|Religion||Subjects||Images||Queries||Links||Contact||Do not fly Iberia|
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 35: War with Samnites. Fabius lives.[324 BC]
Return to index
The tribunes were dismayed and felt more anxiety now about their own position than about the man who had sought their protection. They were relieved from their heavy responsibility by the action of the people; the whole Assembly appealed to the dictator and besought him with earnest entreaties that he would for their sakes forego inflicting punishment on the Master of the Horse. When the tribunes saw the turn matters had taken they added their entreaties also, and implored the dictator to make allowance for human frailty and to pardon Quintus Fabius for an error natural to youth, for he had already suffered punishment enough. And now the youth himself, and even his father, abandoning all further contention, fell on their knees and sought to turn aside the dictator's anger. |
At last, when silence was restored, the dictator spoke. "This, Quirites," he said, "is as it should be. Military discipline has conquered, the supreme authority of government has prevailed; it was a question whether either would survive this day's proceedings. Quintus Fabius is not acquitted of guilt in having fought against his commander's orders, but though condemned as guilty he is restored as a free gift to the people of Rome, to the authority of the tribunes, who protected him not by exercising their legal powers but by their intercession. Live, Quintus Fabius; happier now in the unanimous desire of your fellow-citizens to defend you than in the hour of exultation after your victory! Live, though you dared to do what even your father, had he been in the place of Papirius, could not have pardoned! As for me, you shall be restored to favour whenever you please. But to the Roman people to whom you owe your life you can make no better return than to show that you have this day learnt the lesson of submission to lawful commands in peace and in war."
After announcing that he would no longer detain the Master of the Horse he left the rostra. The joyful senate, the still more joyful people, flocked round the dictator and the Master of the Horse, and congratulated them on the result and then escorted them to their homes. It was felt that military authority had been strengthened no less by the peril in which Quintus Fabius had been placed than by the terrible punishment of young Manlius.
It so happened that on each occasion on which the dictator was absent from the army, the Samnites showed increased activity. Marcus Valerius, however, the second in command, who was in charge of the camp, had the example of Quintus Fabius before his eyes and dreaded the stern dictator's anger more than an attack from the enemy. A foraging party were ambushed and cut to pieces, and it was commonly believed that they could have been relieved from the camp had not the commanding officer been deterred by the peremptory orders he had received. This incident still further embittered the feelings of the soldiers who were already incensed against the dictator owing to his implacable attitude towards Fabius and then to his having pardoned him at the request of the people alter having refused to do so on their intercession.
Event: Second war with Samnites