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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 17: Sidicines, Pestilence, Samnites and Gauls.[334-2 BC]
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The new consuls, after taking over the army from their predecessors, entered the enemy territory's and carried their depredations up to the walls of their city. The Sidicines had got together an immense army, and were evidently prepared to fight desperately for their last hope; there was also a report that Samnium was being roused into hostilities. A dictator was accordingly nominated by the consuls on the resolution of the senate -- Publius Cornelius Rufinus; the Master of the Horse was Marcus Antonius. Subsequently a religious difficulty arose through an informality in their nomination, and they resigned their posts. In consequence of a pestilence, which followed, it seemed as though all the auspices were tainted by that informality, and matters reverted to an interregnum. There were five interreges and under the last one, Marcus Valerius Corvus, the consuls elected were Gaius Cornelius (for the second time) and Gnaeus Domitius. |
Matters were now quiet, but a rumour of a Gaulish war created as much alarm as an actual invasion, and it was decided that a dictator should be appointed. Marcus Papirius Crassus was nominated, his Master of the Horse being Publius Valerius Publicola. Whilst they were raising a stronger levy than was usual in wars near at hand, the reconnoitring parties that had been sent out reported that all was quiet amongst the Gauls
For the last two years there had been suspicions of a movement in Samnium in favour of a change of policy, and as a measure of precaution the Roman army was not withdrawn from the Sidicines territory. The landing of Alexander of Epirus near Paestum led the Samnites to make common cause with the Lucanians, but their united forces were defeated by turn in a pitched battle. He then established friendly relations with Rome, but it is very doubtful how far he would have maintained them had his other enterprises been equally successful.
In this year a census was taken, the censors being Quintus Publilius Philo and Spurius Postumius. The new citizens were assessed and formed into two additional tribes, the Maecian and the Scaptian. Lucius Papirius, the praetor, secured the passage of a law by which the rights of citizenship without the franchise were conferred on the inhabitants of Acerrae
Auspicium:Type of divination
Interregnum:The time an interrex governed the state.
Interrex:Temporary (5 days!) head of state when the king or both consuls had died.