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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 9: War with the Volscians and Etruscans. Sutrium.[386 BC]
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The general, however, had a more important object in view -- Antium, the capital of the Volscians and the starting point of the last war. Owing to its strength, the capture of that city could only be effected by a considerable quantity of siege apparatus, artillery, and war machines. Camillus therefore left his colleague in command and went to Rome to urge upon the senate the necessity of destroying Antium. In the middle of his speech -- I think it was the will of heaven that Antium should remain some time longer -- envoys arrived from Nepete and Sutrium begging for help against the Etruscans and pointing out that the chance of rendering assistance would soon be lost. |
Fortune diverted Camillus' energies from Antium to that quarter, for those places, fronting Etruria, served as gates and barriers on that side, and the Etruscans were anxious to secure them whenever they were meditating hostilities, whilst the Romans were equally anxious to recover and hold them. The senate accordingly decided to arrange with Camillus that he should let Antium go and undertake the war with Etruria. They assigned to him the legions in the City which Quinctius was commanding, and though he would have preferred the army which was acting against the Volsci, of which he had had experience and which was accustomed to his command, he raised no objection; all he asked for was that Valerius should share the command with him. Quinctius and Horatius were sent against the Volscians in succession to Valerius.
When they reached Sutrium, Furius and Valerius found a part of the city in the hands of the Etruscans; in the rest of the place the inhabitants were with difficulty keeping the enemy at bay behind barricades which they had erected in the streets. The approach of succours from Rome and the name of Camillus, famous amongst allies and enemies alike, relieved the situation for the moment and allowed time to render assistance.
Camillus accordingly formed his army into two divisions and ordered his colleague to take one round to the side which the enemy were holding and commence an attack on the walls. This was done not so much in the hope that the attack would succeed as that the enemy's attention might be distracted so as to afford a respite to the wearied defenders and an opportunity for him to effect an entrance into the town without fighting. The Etruscans, finding themselves attacked on both sides, the walls being assaulted from without and the townsmen fighting within, flung themselves in one panic-stricken mass through the only gate which happened to be clear of the enemy. A great slaughter of the fugitives took place both in the city and in the fields outside. Furious men accounted for many inside the walls, whilst Valerius' troops were more lightly equipped for pursuit, and they did not put an end to the carnage till nightfall prevented their seeing any longer.