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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 32: War with the Volscians and Latins.[377 BC]
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A short breathing space had been allowed to the debtors, but as soon as hostilities ceased and quiet was restored large numbers of them were again being adjudged to their creditors, and so completely had all hopes of lightening the old load of debt vanished that new debts were being contracted to meet a tax imposed for the construction of a stone wall for which the censors had made a contract. The plebs were compelled to submit to this burden because there was no enrolment which their tribunes could obstruct. They were even forced by the influence of the nobility to elect only patricians as consular tribunes; their names were: Lucius Aemilius, Publius Valerius (for the fourth time), Gaius Veturius, Servius Sulpicius, Lucius and Gaius Quinctius Cincinnatus. |
The patricians were also strong enough to effect the enrolment of three armies to act against the Latins and Volscians, who had united their forces and were encamped at Satricum. All those who were liable for active service were made to take the military oath, none ventured to obstruct. One of these armies was to protect the City; another was to be in readiness to be despatched wherever any sudden hostile movement might be attempted; the third, and by far the strongest, was led by Publius Valerius and Lucius Aemilius to Satricum. Here they found the enemy drawn up for battle on favourable ground and immediately engaged him. The action, though so far not decisive, was going in favour of the Romans when it was stopped by violent storms of wind and rain. The next day it was resumed and was kept up for some time on the part of the enemy with a courage and success equal to that of the Romans, mainly by the Latin legions who through their long alliance were familiar with Roman tactics. A cavalry charge disordered their ranks, and before they could recover, the infantry made a fresh attack and the further they pressed forward the more decided the retreat of the enemy became, and once the battle turned, the Roman attack became irresistible. The rout of the enemy was complete, and as they did not make for their camp but tried to reach Satricum, which was two miles distant, they were mostly cut down by the cavalry. The camp was taken and plundered.
The following night they evacuated Satricum, and in a march which was much more like a flight made their way to Antium, and though the Romans followed almost on their heels, the state of panic they were in enabled them to outstrip their pursuers. The enemy entered the city before the Romans could delay or harass their rear. Some days were spent in harrying the country as the Romans were not sufficiently provided with military engines for attacking the walls, nor were the enemy disposed to run the risk of a battle.
Event: Second war with Volscians