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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 7: War with the Volscians and Etruscans. Cont.[386 BC]
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After proclaiming a suspension of all public business and completing the enrolment of troops, Furius and Valerius proceeded to Satricum. Here the Antiates had massed not only Volscian troops drawn from a new generation (1) but also an immense body of Latins and Hernicans, nations whose strength had been growing through long years of peace. This coalition of new enemies with old ones daunted the spirits of the Roman soldiers. Camillus was already drawing up his men for battle when the centurions brought reports to him of the discouragement of his troops, the want of alacrity in arming themselves, and the hesitation and unwillingness with which they were marching out of camp. Men were even heard saying that "they were going to fight one against a hundred, and that such a multitude could hardly be withstood even if unarmed, much less now that they were in arms." |
He at once sprang on his horse, faced the line and, riding along the front, addressed his men "What is this gloom, soldiers, this extraordinary hesitation? Are you strangers to the enemy, or to me, or to yourselves? As for the enemy -- what is he but the means through which you always prove your courage and win renown? And as for you -- not to mention the capture of Falerii and Veii and the slaughter of the Gaulish legions inside your captured City -- have you not, under my leadership, enjoyed a triple triumph for a threefold victory over these very Volscians, as well as over the Aequi and over Etruria? Or is it that you do not recognise me as your general because I have given the battle signal not as dictator but as a consular tribune. I feel no craving for the highest authority over you, nor ought you to see in me anything beyond what I am in myself; the dictatorship has never increased my spirits and energy, nor did my exile diminish them. We are all of us, then, the same that we have ever been, and since we are bringing just the same qualities into this war that we have displayed in all former wars, let us look forward to the same result. As soon as you meet your foe, every one will do what he has been trained and accustomed to do; you will conquer, they will fly."
(1): The fighting force of the previous generation had been practically annihilated by Camillus in the action near Lanuvium.
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Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.
Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.