|Do not fly Iberia
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 18: War with Faliscans and Capenae.[396 BC]
Return to index
The prerogative centuries elected Publius Licinius Calvus consular tribune though he was not a candidate. His appointment was not at all distasteful to the senate, for when in office before he had shown himself a man of moderate views. He was, however, advanced in years. As the voting proceeded it became clear that all who had been formerly his colleagues in office were being reappointed one after another. They were Lucius Titinius, Publius Maenius, Quintus Manlius, Gnaeus Genucius, and Lucius Atilius. After the tribes had been duly summoned to hear the declaration of the poll, but before it was actually published, Publius Licinius Calvus, by permission of the interrex, spoke as follows: "I see, Quirites, that from what you remember of our former tenure of office, you are seeking in these elections an omen of concord for the coming year, a thing most of all helpful in the present state of affairs. But, whilst you are re-electing my old comrades, who have become wiser and stronger by experience, you see in me not the man I was, but only a mere shadow and name of Publius Licinius. My bodily powers are worn out, my sight and hearing are impaired, my memory is failing, my mental vigour is dulled. Here," he said, holding his son by the hand, "is a young man, the image and counterpart of him whom in days gone by you elected as the first consular tribune taken from the ranks of the plebs. This young man whom I have trained and moulded I now hand over and dedicate to the republic to take my place, and I beg you, Quirites, to confer this honour which you have bestowed unsought on me, on him who is seeking it, and whose candidature I would fain support and further by my prayers." His request was granted, and his son Publius Licinius Calvus was formally announced as consular tribune with those above mentioned.
Titinius and Genucius marched against the Faliscans and Capenates, but they proceeded with more courage than caution and fell into an ambuscade. Genucius atoned for his rashness by an honourable death, and fell fighting amongst the foremost. Titinius rallied his men from the disorder into which they had fallen and gained some rising ground where he reformed his line, but would not come down to continue the fight on level terms. More disgrace was incurred than loss, but it almost resulted in a terrible disaster, so great was the alarm it created not only in Rome, where very exaggerated accounts were received, but also in the camp before Veii. Here a rumour had gained ground that after the destruction of the generals and their army, the victorious Capenates and Faliscans and the whole military strength of Etruria had proceeded to Veii and were at no great distance; in consequence of this the soldiers were with difficulty restrained from taking to flight. Still more disquieting rumours were current in Rome; at one moment they imagined that the camp before Veii had been stormed, at another that a part of the enemies' forces was in full march to the City. They hurried to the walls; the matrons, whom the general alarm had drawn from their homes, made prayers and supplications in the temples; solemn petitions were offered up to the gods that they would ward off destruction from the houses and temples of the City and from the walls of Rome, and divert the fears and alarms to Veii if the sacred rites had been duly restored and the portents expiated.