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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 31: Domestic Troubles. War with Volscians.[378 BC]
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The new consular tribunes were Spurius Furius, Quintus Servilius(for the second time), Lucius Menenius (for the third time), Publius Cloelius, Marcus Horatius, and Lucius Geganius. |
No sooner had their year begun than the flames of a violent disturbance broke out, for which the distress caused by the debts supplied both cause and motive. Spurius Servilius Priscus and Quintus Cloelius Siculus were appointed censors to go into the matter, but they were prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war. The Volscian legions invaded the Roman territory and were committing ravages in all directions. The first intimation came through panic-stricken messengers followed by a general flight from the country districts. So far was the alarm thus created from repressing the domestic dissensions that the tribunes showed all the greater determination to obstruct the enrolment of troops. They succeeded at last in imposing two conditions on the patricians: that none should pay the war-tax until the war was over, and that no suits for debt should be brought into court.
After the plebs had obtained this relief there was no longer any delay in the enrolment. When the fresh troops had been raised they were formed into two armies, both of which were marched into the Volscian territory. Spurius Furius and Marcus Horatius turned to the right in the direction of Antium and the coast; Quintus Servilius and Lucius Geganius proceeded to the left towards Ecetra and the mountain district. In neither direction did the enemy meet them. So they commenced to ravage the country in a very different method from that which the Volscians had practised. These, emboldened by the dissensions but afraid of the courage of their enemy, had made hasty depredations like freebooters dreading a surprise, but the Romans acting as a regular army wreaked their just anger in ravages which were all the more destructive because they were continuous. The Volscians, fearing lest an army might come from Rome, confined their ravages to the extreme frontier; the Romans, on the other hand, lingered in the enemy's country to provoke him to battle. After burning all the scattered houses and several of the villages and leaving not a single fruit tree or any hope of harvest for the year, and carrying off as booty all the men and cattle that remained outside the walled towns, the two armies returned to Rome.
Event: Second war with Volscians