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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 41: War with the Volscians. Cont.[423 BC]
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The speech which Tempanius made in reply is said to have been unpolished, but marked by soldierly dignity, free from the vanity of self-praise, and showing no pleasure in the inculpation of others. "It was not," he said, "a soldier's place to criticise his commander, or judge how much military skill he possessed; that was for the Roman people to do when they elected him consul [Note 1]. They must not therefore demand of him what tactics a commander should adopt, or what military capacity a consul should display; these were matters which even great minds and intellects would have to weigh very carefully. He could, however, relate what he saw. Before he was cut off from the main body he saw the consul fighting in the front line, encouraging his men, going to and fro between the Roman standards and the missiles of the enemy. After he, the speaker, was carried out of sight of his comrades, he knew from the noise and shouting that the combat was kept up till night; and he did not believe that a way could have been made to the eminence which he had occupied, owing to the numbers of the enemy. Where the army was he knew not; he thought that as he found protection for himself and his men at a moment of extreme peril in the nature of the ground, so the consul had selected a stronger position for his camp, to save his army. He did not believe that the Volscians were in any better plight than the Romans; the varying fortunes of the fight and the fall of night had led to all sorts of mistakes on both sides." He then begged them not to keep him any longer, as he was exhausted with his exertions and his wounds, and thereupon was dismissed amidst loud praises of his modesty no less than his courage. |
Whilst this was going on the consul had reached the Labican road and was at the chapel of Quies. Wagons and draught - cattle were despatched thither from the City for the conveyance of the army, who were worn out by the battle and night march. Shortly afterwards the consul entered the City, quite as anxious to give Tempanius the praise he so well deserved as to remove the blame from his own shoulders.
Whilst the citizens were mourning over their reverses and angry with their generals, Marcus Postumius, who as consular tribune had commanded at Veii, was brought before them for trial. He was sentenced to a fine of 10,000 ases." His colleague, Titus Quinctius, who had been successful against the Volscians under the auspices of the dictator Postumius Tubertus, and at Fidenae as second in command under the other dictator, Mamercus Aemilius, threw all the blame for the disaster at Veii on his colleague who had been previously sentenced. He was acquitted by the unanimous vote of the tribes. It is said that the memory of his venerated father, Cincinnatus, stood him in good stead, as also did the now aged Capitolinus Quinctius, who earnestly entreated them not to allow him, with so brief a span of life left to him, to be the bearer of such sad tidings to Cincinnatus.
Note 1: consul = Sempronius
Event: War with the Volscians
|Adversus haec Tempani oratio incompta fuisse dicitur, ceterum militariter grauis, non suis uana laudibus, non crimine alieno laeta: quanta prudentia rei bellicae in C. Sempronio esset, non militis de imperatore existimationem esse, sed populi Romani fuisse, cum eum comitiis consulem legeret. Itaque ne ab se imperatoria consilia neu consulares artes exquirerent, quae pensitanda quoque magnis animis atque ingeniis essent; sed quod viderit referre posse. Vidisse autem se priusquam ab acie intercluderetur consulem in prima acie pugnantem, adhortantem, inter signa Romana telaque hostium versantem. Postea se a conspectu suorum ablatum ex strepitu tamen et clamore sensisse usque ad noctem extractum certamen; nec ad tumulum quem ipse tenuerat prae multitudine hostium credere perrumpi potuisse. Exercitus ubi esset se nescire; arbitrari, velut ipse in re trepida loci praesidio se suosque sit tutatus, sic consulem seruandi exercitus causa loca tutiora castris cepisse; nec Volscorum meliores res esse credere quam populi Romani; fortunam noctemque omnia erroris mutui implesse. Precantemque deinde ne se fessum labore ac volneribus tenerent, cum ingenti laude non virtutis magis quam moderationis dimissum. Cum haec agerentur, iam consul via Labicana ad fanum Quietis erat. Eo missa plaustra iumentaque alia ab urbe exercitum adfectum proelio ac via nocturna excepere. Paulo post in urbem est ingressus consul, non ab se magis enixe amovens culpam quam Tempanium meritis laudibus ferens. Maestae civitati ab re male gesta et iratae ducibus M. Postumius reus obiectus, qui tribunus militum pro consule ad Veios fuerat, decem milibus aeris grauis damnatur. T. Quinctium collegam eius, quia et in Volscis consul auspicio dictatoris Postumi Tuberti et ad Fidenas legatus dictatoris alterius Mam. Aemili res prospere gesserat, totam culpam eius temporis in praedamnatum collegam transferentem omnes tribus absolverunt. Profuisse ei Cincinnati patris memoria dicitur, venerabilis viri, et exactae iam aetatis Capitolinus Quinctius, suppliciter orans ne se, breui reliquo vitae spatio, tam tristem nuntium ferre ad Cincinnatum paterentur.|