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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 25: Gaulish Marauders and Greek Pirates.[349 BC]
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-- Before the new consuls entered upon their office Popilius celebrated his triumph over the Gauls amidst the delighted applause of the plebs, and people asked each other with bated breath whether there was any one who regretted the election of a plebeian consul. At the same time they were very bitter against the dictator for having seized the consulship as a bribe for his treating the Licinian Law with contempt. They considered that he had degraded the consulship more by his greedy ambition than by his acting against the public interest, since he had actually procured his own election as consul whilst he was dictator. |
The year was marked by numerous disturbances. The Gauls came down from the hills of Alba because they could not stand the severity of the winter, and they spread themselves in plundering hordes over the plains and the maritime districts. The sea was infested by fleets of Greek pirates who made descents on the coast round Antium and Laurentum and entered the mouth of the Tiber. On one occasion the searobbers and the landrobbers encountered one another in a hard-fought battle and drew off, the Gauls to their camp, the Greeks to their ships, neither side knowing whether they were to consider themselves victors or vanquished.
These various alarms were followed by a much more serious one. The Latins had received a demand from the Roman government to furnish troops, and after discussing the matter in their national council repliedin these uncompromising terms: "Desist from making demands on those whose help you need; we Latins prefer to bear arms in defence of our own liberty rather than in support of an alien dominion." With two foreign wars on their hands and this revolt of their allies, the anxious senate saw that they would have to restrain by fear those who were not restrained by any considerations of honour. They ordered the consuls to exert their authority to the utmost in levying troops, since, as the body of their allies were deserting them, they would have to depend upon their fellow-citizens entirely. Men were enlisted everywhere, not only from the City but also from the country districts. It is stated that ten legions were enrolled, each containing 4200 foot and 300 horse. In these days the strength of Rome, for which the world hardly finds room, would even, if concentrated, find it difficult on any sudden alarm to raise a fresh army of that size; to such an extent have we progressed in those things to which alone we devote our efforts - wealth and luxury.
Amongst the other mournful events of this year was the death of the second consul, Appius Claudius, which occurred while the preparations for war were going on. The government passed into the hands of Camillus, as sole consul, and the senate did not think it well for a dictator to be appointed, either because of the auspicious omen of his name in view of trouble with the Gauls, or because they would not place a man of his distinction under a dictator.
Leaving two legions to protect the City, the consul divided the remaining eight between himself and Lucius Pinarius, the praetor. He kept the conduct of the war against the Gauls in his own hands instead of deciding upon the field of operations by the usual drawing of lots, inspired as he was by the memory of his father's brilliant successes. The praetor was to protect the coast-line and prevent the Greeks from effecting a landing, whilst he himself marched down into the Pomptine territory. His intention was to avoid any engagement in the flat country unless he was forced to fight, and to confine himself to checking their depredations; for as it was only by pillaging that they were able to maintain themselves, he thought that he could best crush them in this way. Accordingly he selected suitable ground for a stationary camp.
Events: Third war with the Gauls, Greek Pirates