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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 63: The Sabines beaten.[449 BC]
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So they resumed the struggle which they were giving up and recovered the ground they had lost, and in a moment not only was the battle restored but the Sabines on that wing were even forced back. The cavalry returned to their horses, protected by the infantry through whose ranks they passed, and galloped off to the other wing to announce their success to their comrades. At the same time they made a charge on the enemy, who were now demoralised through the defeat of their strongest wing. None showed more brilliant courage in that battle. The consul's [Note 1] eyes were everywhere, he commended the brave, had words of rebuke wherever the battle seemed to slacken. Those whom he censured displayed at once the energy of brave men, they were stimulated by a sense of shame, as much as the others by his commendation. The battle-cry was again raised, and by one united effort on the part of the whole army they repulsed the enemy; the Roman attack could no longer be withstood. The Sabines were scattered in all directions through the fields, and left their camp as a spoil to the enemy. What the Romans found there was not the property of their allies, as had been the case on Algidus, but their own, which had been lost in the ravaging of their homesteads. |
For this double victory, won in two separate battles, the senate decreed thanksgivings on behalf of the consuls, but their jealousy restricted them to one day. The people, however, without receiving orders, went on the second day also in vast crowds to the temples, and this unauthorised and spontaneous thanksgiving was celebrated with almost greater enthusiasm than the former.
The consuls had mutually agreed to approach the City during these two days and convene a meeting of the senate in the Campus Martius. Whilst they were making their report there on the conduct of the campaigns, the leaders of the senate entered a protest against their session being held in the midst of the troops, in order to intimidate them. To avoid any ground for this charge the consuls immediately adjourned the senate to the Flaminian Meadows, where the temple of Apollo -- then called the Apollinare -- now stands. The senate by a large majority refused the consuls the honour of a triumph, whereupon Lucius Icilius, as tribune of the plebs, brought the question before the people. Many came forward to oppose it, particularly Gaius Claudius, who exclaimed in excited tones that it was over the senate, not over the enemy, that the consuls wished to celebrate their triumph. It was demanded as an act of gratitude for a private service rendered to a tribune, not as an honour for merit. Never before had a triumph been ordered by the people, it had always lain with the senate to decide whether one was deserved or not; not even kings had infringed the prerogative of the highest order in the State. The tribunes must not make their power pervade everything, so as to render the existence of a Council of State impossible. The State will only be free, the laws equal, on condition that each order preserves its own rights, its own power and dignity.
Much to the same effect was said by the senior members of the senate, but the tribes unanimously adopted the proposal. That was the first instance of a triumph being celebrated by order of the people without the authorisation of the senate.
Note 1: consul = Horatius
Event: War with Sabines and Aequi