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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 49: The Fabii against the Veii.[478 BC]
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News of what had happened spread through the whole City, the Fabii were praised up to the skies; people said, "One family had taken up the burden of the State, the war had become a private concern, a private quarrel. If there were two houses of the same strength in the City, and the one claimed the Volscians for themselves, the other the Aequi, then all the neighbouring states could be subjugated while Rome itself remained in profound tranquillity." |
The next day the Fabii took their arms and assembled at the appointed place. The consul, wearing his paludamentum, went out into the vestibule and saw the whole of his house drawn up in order of march. Taking his place in the centre, he gave the word of advance. Never has an army marched through the City smaller in numbers or with a more brilliant reputation or more universally admired. Three hundred and six soldiers, all patricians, all members of one house, not a single man of whom the senate even in its palmiest days would deem unfitted for high command, went forth, threatening ruin to the Veientines through the strength of a single family. They were followed by a crowd; made up partly of their own relatives and friends, whose minds were not occupied with ordinary hope and anxiety, but filled with the loftiest anticipations; partly of those who shared the public anxiety, and could not find words to express their affection and admiration. "Go on," they cried, "you gallant band, go on, and may you be fortunate; bring back results equal to this beginning, then look to us for consulships and triumphs and every possible reward." As they passed the Citadel and the Capitol and other temples, their friends prayed to each deity, whose statue or whose shrine they saw, that they would send that band with all favourable omens to success, and in a short time restore them safe to their country and their kindred. In vain were those prayers sent up! They proceeded on their ill-starred way by the right postern of the Carmental gate, and reached the banks of the Cremera. This seemed to them a suitable position for a fortified post.
Lucius Aemilius and Gaius Servilius were the next consuls. As long as it was only a question of forays and raids, the Fabii were quite strong enough not only to protect their own fortified post, but, by patrolling both sides of the border-line between the Roman and Tuscan territories, to make the whole district safe for themselves and dangerous for the enemy. There was a brief interruption to these raids, when the Veientines, after summoning an army from Etruria, assaulted the fortified post at the Cremera. The Roman legions were brought up by the consul Lucius Aemilius and fought a regular engagement with the Etruscan troops. The Veientines, however, had not time to complete their formation, and during the confusion, whilst the men were getting into line and the reserves were being stationed, a squadron of Roman cavalry suddenly made a flank attack, and gave them no chance of commencing a battle or even of standing their ground. They were driven back to their camp at the Saxa Rubra, and sued for peace. They obtained it, but their natural inconstancy made them regret it before the Roman garrison was recalled from the Cremera.
Event: War of Rome with Veii