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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 44: Battle with the Samnites in Stellae.[305 BC]
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Publius Cornelius Scipio was nominated dictator this year, with Publius Decius Mus as Master of the Horse, for the purpose of holding the elections, as neither of the consuls could leave the seat of war. The consuls elected were Lucius Postumius and Tiberius Minucius. Piso places these consuls immediately after Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius, omitting the two years in which I have inserted the consulships of Claudius and Volumnius and of Cornelius and Marcius. Whether this was due to a slip of memory in drawing up the lists or whether he purposely omitted them, believing them to be wrongly inserted, is uncertain. |
The Samnites made forays this year into the district of Stellae in Campania. Both consuls accordingly were despatched to Samnium. Postumius marched to Tifernum, Minucius made Bovianum his objective. Postumius was the first to come into touch with the enemy and a battle was fought at Tifernum. Some authorities state that the Samnites were thoroughly beaten and 24,000 prisoners taken. According to others the battle was an indecisive one, and Postumius, in order to create an impression that he was afraid of the enemy, withdrew by night into the mountains, whither the enemy followed him and took up an entrenched position two miles away from him. To keep up the appearance of having sought a safe and commodious place for a standing camp -- and such it really was -- the consul strongly entrenched himself and furnished his camp with all necessary stores. Then, leaving a strong detachment to hold it, he started at the third watch and led his legions in light marching order by the shortest possible route to his colleague, who was also encamped in front of another Samnium army. Acting on Postumius' advice Minucius engaged the enemy, and after the battle had gone on for the greater part of the day without either side gaining the advantage, Postumius brought up his fresh legions and made an unsuspected attack upon the enemy's wearied lines. Exhausted by fighting and by wounds they were incapable of flight and were practically annihilated. Twenty-one standards were captured. Both armies marched to the camp which Postumius had formed, and there they routed and dispersed the enemy, who were demoralised by the news of the previous battle. Twenty-six standards were captured, the captain-general of the Samnites, Statius Gellius, and a large number of men were made prisoners, and both camps were taken.
The next day they commenced an attack on Bovianum which was soon taken, and the consuls after their brilliant successes celebrated a joint triumph. Some authorities assert that the consul Minucius was carried back to the camp severely wounded and died there, and that Marcus Fulvius was made consul in his place, and after taking over the command of Minucius' army effected the capture of Bovianum.
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.
Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.