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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 59: Capture of Anxur.[406 BC]
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Meantime the consular tribunes decided to lead the army into the territory of the Volscians; Gnaeus Cornelius was left in charge of the City. The three tribunes ascertained that there was no camp of the Volscians anywhere, and that they would not risk a battle, so they divided into three separate forces to ravage the country. Valerius made Antium his objective; Cornelius, Ecetrae. Wherever they marched they destroyed the homesteads and crops far and wide to divide the forces of the Volscians. Fabius marched to Anxur, which was the chief objective, without losing time in devastating the country. This city is now called Terracina; it was built on the side of a hill and sloped down to the marshes. Fabius made a show of attacking the city on that side. Four cohorts were despatched with Gaius Servilius Ahala by a circuitous route to seize the hill which overhung the town on the other side. After doing so they made an attack amidst loud shouts and uproar from their higher position upon that part of the town where there was no defence. Those who were holding the lower part of the city against Fabius were stupefied with astonishment at the noise, and this gave him time to plant his scaling ladders. The Romans were soon in all parts of the city, and for some time a ruthless slaughter went on of fugitives and fighters, armed and unarmed alike. As there was no hope of quarter, the defeated enemy were compelled to keep up the fight, till suddenly an order was issued that none but those taken with arms should be injured. On this the whole of the population threw down their arms; prisoners to the number of 2500 were taken. Fabius would not allow his men to touch the other spoils of war until the arrival of his colleagues, for those armies too had taken their part in the capture of Anxur, since they had prevented the Volscians from coming to its relief. On their arrival the three armies sacked the town, which, owing to its long-continued prosperity, contained much wealth. This generosity on the part of the generals was the first step towards the reconciliation of the plebs and the senate(1).
Institution of Military Pay.
This was followed by a boon which the senate, at a most opportune moment, conferred on the plebeians. Before the question was mooted either by the plebs or their tribunes, the senate decreed that the soldiery should receive pay from the public treasury. Previously, each man had served at his own expense.
(1): Instead of giving the spoil to the soldiers, they might have, as in other cases, sold it for the public treasury.