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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 32: War with Etruria.[311 BC]
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During these occurrences in Samnium the whole of the cities of Etruria with the exception of Arretium had taken up arms and commenced what proved to be a serious war by an attack on Sutrium. This city was in alliance with Rome, and served as a barrier on the side of Etruria. Aemilius marched thither to raise the siege, and selected a site before the city where he entrenched himself. His camp was plentifully supplied with provisions from Sutrium. The Etruscans spent the day after his arrival in discussing whether they should bring on an immediate engagement or protract the war. Their generals decided upon the more energetic course as the safer one, and the next day at sunrise the signal for battle was displayed and the troops marched into the field. As soon as this was reported to the consul he ordered the tessera to be given out, instructing the men to take their breakfast, and after they were strengthened by food to arm themselves for battle. When he saw that they were in complete readiness, he ordered the standards to go forward, and after the army had emerged from the camp he formed his battle-line not far from the enemy. For some time both sides stood in expectation, each waiting for the other to raise the battle-shout and begin the fighting. The sun passed the meridian before a single missile was discharged on either side. At length the Etruscans, not caring to leave the field without securing some success, raised the battle-shout; the trumpets sounded and the standards advanced. The Romans showed no less eagerness to engage. They closed with each other in deadly earnest. The Etruscans had the advantage in numbers, the Romans in courage. The contest was equally maintained and cost many lives, including the bravest on both sides, nor did either army show any signs of giving way until the second Roman line came up fresh into the place of the first, who were wearied and exhausted. The Etruscans had no reserves to support their first line, and all fell in front of their standards or around them. No battle would have witnessed fewer fugitives or involved greater carnage had not the Tuscans, who had made up their minds to die, found protection in the approach of night, so that the victors were the first to desist from fighting. After sunset the signal was given to retire, and both armies returned in the night to their respective camps. |
Nothing further worth mention took place that year at Sutrium. The enemy had lost the whole of their first line in a single battle and had only their reserves left, who were hardly sufficient to protect their camp. Amongst the Romans there were so many wounded that those who left the field disabled were more numerous than those who had fallen in the battle.
Event: War with Etruria.
Tessera:A wooden tablet on which the watchword was written -- it was not as a rule given verbally -- and frequently, also, the order of the day, as in the present instances.
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.