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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 22: War with the Volscians and Aequi[458 BC]
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The consuls elected were Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, for the third time, and Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis. In that year the census was taken, and owing to the seizure of the Capitol and the death of the consul, the lustrum" was closed on religious grounds. |
During their consulship matters became disturbed at the very beginning of the year. The tribunes began to instigate the plebs.
Second War with Aequi and Volscians
The Latins and Hernici reported that war on an immense scale was commenced by the Volscians and Aequi, the Volscian legions were already at Antium, and there were grave fears of the colony itself revolting. With great difficulty the tribunes were induced to allow the war to take precedence of their Law. Then their respective spheres of operation were allotted to the consuls: Fabius was commissioned to take the legions to Antium; Cornelius was to protect Rome and prevent detachments of the enemy from coming on marauding expeditions, as was the custom with the Aequi. The Hernici and Latins were ordered to furnish troops, in accordance with the treaty; two-thirds of the army consisted of allies, the rest of Roman citizens. The allies came in on the appointed day, and the consul encamped outside the Capene gate. When the lustration of the army was completed, he marched to Antium and halted at a short distance from the city and from the enemies' standing camp. As the army of the Aequi had not arrived, the Volscians did not venture on an engagement, and prepared to act on the defensive and protect their camp. The next day Fabius formed his troops round the enemies' lines, not in one mixed army of allies and citizens, but each nation in a separate division, he himself being in the centre with the Roman legions. He gave orders to carefully observe his signals, that all might commence the action and retire -- should the signal for retirement be sounded -- at the same moment. The cavalry were stationed behind their respective divisions. In this triple formation he assaulted three sides of the camp, and the Volscians, unable to meet the simultaneous attack, were dislodged from the breastworks. Getting inside their lines he drove the panic-struck crowd, who were all pressing in one direction, out of their camp. The cavalry, unable to surmount the breastworks, had so far been merely spectators of the fight, now they overtook the enemy and cut them down as they fled in disorder over the plain, and so enjoyed a share of the victory. There was a great slaughter both in the camp and in the pursuit, but a still greater amount of spoil, as the enemy had hardly been able to carry away even their arms. Their army would have been annihilated had not the fugitives found shelter in the forest.
Lustrum:Lustrum, or expiation. The last act of the censors during their period of office was to offer an expiatory sacrifice for the whole people. On the appointed day the citizens assembled in military formation in the Campus Martius. The victims, a boar, a ram, and a bull -- hence the name of the sacrifice, suovetaurilia" -- were carried thrice round the assembled host, who were then declared "purified," and whilst the animals were being offered on the altar, the censor to whom the lot had fallen of conducting the ceremony recited a traditional form of prayer for the strengthening and extension of the might of the Roman people. As the censor's office was originally fixed for five years, "lustrum" was used to denote that period of time.