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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 31: War with Veii.[426 BC]
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Four consular tribunes were elected - Titus Quinctius Poenus, who had been consul, Gaius Furius, Marcus Postumius, and Aulus Cornelius Cossus. Cossus was warden of the City, the other three after completing the levy advanced against Veii, and they showed how useless a divided command is in war. By each insisting on his own plans, when they all held different views, they gave the enemy his opportunity. For whilst the army was perplexed by different orders, some giving the signal to advance, whilst the others ordered a retreat, the Veientines seized the opportunity for an attack. Breaking into a disorderly flight, the Romans sought refuge in their camp which was close by; they incurred more disgrace than loss. The common-wealth, unaccustomed to defeat, was plunged in grief; they hated the tribunes and demanded a dictator; all their hopes rested on that. Here too a religious impediment was met with, as a dictator could only be nominated by a consul. The augurs were consulted and removed the difficulty. Aulus Cornelius nominated Mamercus Aemilius as dictator, he himself was appointed by him Master of the Horse. This proved how powerless the action of the censors was to prevent a member of a family unjustly degraded from being entrusted with supreme control when once the fortunes of the State demanded real courage and ability. (1)|
Elated by their success, the Veientines sent envoys round to the cantons of Etruria, boasting that three Roman generals had been defeated by them in a single battle. As, however, they could not induce the national council to join them, they collected from all quarters volunteers who were attracted by the prospect of booty. The Fidenates alone decided to take part in the war, and as though they thought it impious to begin war otherwise than with a crime, they stained their weapons with the blood of the new colonists, as they had previously with the blood of the Roman ambassadors. Then they joined the Veientines. The chiefs of the two peoples consulted whether they should make Veii or Fidenae the base of operations. Fidenae appeared the more suitable; the Veientines accordingly crossed the Tiber and transferred the war to Fidenae.
(1): This was that Mamercus who, now nominated dictator, had been degraded by the censors.
Event: War with Veii
|Tribuni militum consulari potestate quattuor creati sunt, T. Quinctius Poenus ex consulatu C. Furius M. Postumius A. Cornelius Cossus. Ex his Cossus praefuit urbi, tres dilectu habito profecti sunt Veios, documentoque fuere quam plurium imperium bello inutile esset. Tendendo ad sua quisque consilia, cum aliud alii videretur, aperuerunt ad occasionem locum hosti; incertam namque aciem, signum aliis dari, receptui aliis cani iubentibus, invasere opportune Veientes. Castra propinqua turbatos ac terga dantes accepere; plus itaque ignominiae quam cladis est acceptum. Maesta civitas fuit vinci insueta; odisse tribunos, poscere dictatorem: in eo verti spes civitatis. Et cum ibi quoque religio obstaret ne non posset nisi ab consule dici dictator, augures consulti eam religionem exemere. A. Cornelius dictatorem Mam. Aemilium dixit et ipse ab eo magister equitum est dictus; adeo, simul fortuna civitatis virtute vera eguit, nihil censoria animadversio effecit, quo minus regimen rerum ex notata indigne domo peteretur. Veientes re secunda elati, missis circum Etruriae populos legatis, iactando tres duces Romanos ab se uno proelio fusos, cum tamen nullam publici consilii societatem movissent, voluntarios undique ad spem praedae adsciuerunt. Uni Fidenatium populo rebellare placuit; et tamquam nisi ab scelere bellum ordiri nefas esset, sicut legatorum ante, ita tum novorum colonorum caede imbutis armis, Veientibus sese coniungunt. Consultare inde principes duorum populorum, Veios an Fidenas sedem belli caperent. Fidenae visae opportuniores; itaque traiecto Tiberi Veientes Fidenas transtulerunt bellum. Romae terror ingens erat. Accito exercitu a Veiis, eoque ipso ab re male gesta perculso, castra locantur ante portam Collinam, et in muris armati dispositi, et iustitium in foro tabernaeque clausae, fiuntque omnia castris quam urbi similiora,|