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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 19: War with the Etruscans.[354-3 BC]
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Two wars were brought to a successful close this year. The Tiburtines were reduced to submission; the city of Sassula was taken from them and all their other towns would have shared the same fate had not the nation as a whole laid down their arms and made peace with the consul. A triumph was celebrated over them, otherwise the victory was followed by mild treatment of the vanquished. The Tarquinians were visited with the utmost severity. A large number were killed in battle; of the prisoners, all those of noble birth to the number of 358 were sent to Rome, the rest were put to the sword. Those who had been sent to Rome met with no gentler treatment from the people, they were all scourged and beheaded in the middle of the Forum. This punishment was an act of retribution for the Romans who had been immolated in the forum of Tarquinii. |
The plebs did not enjoy the same good fortune at home which they had met with in the field. In spite of the reduction in the rate of interest, which was now fixed at 8 and 1/3 %, the poor were unable to repay the capital, and were being made over to their creditors. Their personal distress left them little thought for public affairs and political struggles, elections, and patrician consuls; both consulships accordingly remained with the patricians. The consuls elected were Gaius Sulpicius Peticus (for the fourth time) and Marcus Valerius Publicola (for the second).
Rumours were brought that the people of Caere, out of sympathy with their co-nationalists, had sided with the Tarquinians. Whilst the minds of the citizens were in consequence filled with apprehensions of a war with Etruria, the arrival of envoys from Latium diverted their thoughts to the Volscians (353 BC). They reported that an army had been raised and equipped and was now threatening their frontiers and intended to enter and ravage the Roman territory. The senate thought that neither of these movements ought to be ignored; orders were issued for troops to be enrolled for both wars; the consuls were to draw lots for their respective commands.
The arrival of despatches from the consul Sulpicius made the Etruscan war appear the more serious of the two. He was directing the operations against Tarquinii, and reported that the country round the Roman salt-works had been raided and a portion of the plunder sent to Caere, some of whose men had undoubtedly been amongst the depredators. The consul Valerius, who was acting against the Volscians and had his camp on the frontiers of Tusculum, was recalled and received orders from the senate to nominate a dictator. Titus, the son of Lucius Manlius, was nominated, and he named Aulus Cornelius Cossus as Master of the Horse. Finding the army which the consul had commanded sufficient for his purpose, he was authorised by the senate and the people to formally declare war upon the Caerites