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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 18: The Samnites and Etruscans allied against Rome.[296 BC]
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Whilst this campaign was going on in Samnium -- whoever may have been the commander -- a very serious war against Rome was being organised in Etruria, in which many nations were to take part. The chief organiser was Gellius Egnatius, a Samnite. Almost all the Tuscan cantons had decided on war, the contagion had infected the nearest cantons in Umbria, and the Gauls were being solicited to help as mercenaries. All these were concentrating at the Samnite camp. |
When the news of this sudden rising reached Rome, Lucius Volumnius had already left for Samnium with the second and third legions and 15,000 allied troops; it was therefore decided that Appius Claudius should at the earliest possible moment enter Etruria. Two Roman legions followed him, the first and fourth, and 12,000 allies. He fixed his camp not far from the enemy. The advantage gained by his prompt arrival did not, however, show itself in anywise or fortunate generalship on his part so much as the check imposed by the fear of Rome upon some of the Etrurian cantons which were meditating war. Several engagements took place in unfavourable positions and at unfortunate times, and the more the enemy's hopes of success, the more formidable he became. Matters almost reached the point when the soldiers distrusted their general and the general had no confidence in his soldiers. I find it stated by some annalists that he sent a letter to his colleague summoning him from Samnium, but I cannot assert this as a fact since this very circumstance became a subject of dispute between the two consuls, who were now in office together for the second time; Appius denying that he had sent any letter and Volumnius insisting that he had been summoned by a letter from Appius.
Volumnius had by this time taken three fortified posts in Samnium in which as many as 3000 men were killed and almost half that number made prisoners. He had also sent Quintus Fabius, the proconsul, with his veteran army much to the satisfaction of the Lucanian magnates, to repress the disturbances which had been got up in that part of the country by the plebeian and indigent classes. Leaving the ravaging of the enemy's fields to Decius he proceeded with his whole force to Etruria.
On his arrival he was universally welcomed. As to the way Appius treated him, I think that if he had a clear conscience in the matter, that is, if he had written nothing, his anger was justifiable, but if he had really stood in need of help he showed a disingenuous and ungrateful spirit in concealing the fact. When he went out to meet his colleague, almost before they had had time to exchange mutual greetings, he asked: "Is all well, Volumnius? How are things going in Samnium? What induced you to leave your allotted province? " Volumnius replied that all was going on satisfactorily and that he had come because he had been asked to do so by letter. If it was a forgery and there was nothing for him to do in Etruria he would at once countermarch his troops and depart. "Well then," said Appius, "go, let nobody keep you here for it is by no means right that whilst perhaps you are hardly able to cope with your own war you should boast of having come to the assistance of others." " May Hercules guide all for the best," replied Volumnius. "I would rather have taken all this trouble in vain than that anything should happen which would make one consular army insufficient for Etruria."
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