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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 11: War with Etruria.[299-8 BC]
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The campaign in Etruria fell to the consul Titus Manlius. He had scarcely entered the hostile territory when, as he was wheeling his horse round in some cavalry exercises, he was flung off and almost killed on the spot. Three days later the consul ended his life. The Etruscans derived encouragement from this incident, for they took it as an omen, and declared that the gods were fighting for them. When the sad news reached Rome, not only was the loss of the man severely felt, but also the inopportuneness of the time when it occurred. The senate were prepared to order the nomination of a dictator, but refrained from doing so as the election of a successor to the consul went quite in accordance with the wishes of the leading patricians. Every vote was given in favour of Marcus Valerius, the man whom the senate had decided upon as dictator.

The legions were at once ordered to Etruria. Their presence acted as such a check upon the Etruscans that no one ventured outside their lines; their fears shut them up as closely as though they were blockaded. Valerius devastated their fields and burnt their houses, till not only single farms but numerous villages were reduced to smoking ashes, but he failed to bring the enemy to action.

While this war was progressing more slowly than had been anticipated, apprehensions were felt as to another war which, from the numerous defeats sustained formerly on both sides, was not unreasonably regarded with dread. The Picentes had sent information that the Samnites were arming for war, and that they had approached the Picentes to induce them to join them. The latter were thanked for their loyalty, and the public attention was diverted to a large extent from Etruria to Samnium

The dearness of provisions caused widespread distress amongst the citizens. Those writers who make Fabius Maximus a curule aedile for that year assert that there would have been actual famine if he had not shown the same wise care in the control of the market and the accumulation of supplies which he had so often before displayed in war.

An interregnum occurred this year -- tradition assigns no reason for it. The interreges were Appius Claudius and Publius Sulpicius. The latter held the consular elections at which Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Fulvius were returned.

At the beginning of their year a deputation came from the Lucanians to lay a formal complaint against the Samnites. They informed the senate that that people had tried to allure them into forming an offensive and defensive alliance with them, and, finding their efforts futile, they invaded their territory and were laying it waste, and so, by making war upon them, trying to drive them into a war with Rome. The Lucanians, they said, had made too many mistakes already; they had now quite made up their minds that it would be better to bear and suffer everything than to attempt anything against Rome. They implored the senate to take them under its protection and to defend them from the wanton aggressions of the Samnites. They were fully aware that it Rome declared war against Samnium their loyalty to her would be a matter of life and death, but, notwithstanding that, they were prepared to give hostages as a guarantee of good faith.

Events: War with Etruscans, Fourth war with Samnites

T. Manlio consuli prouincia Etruria sorte euenit; qui uixdum ingressus hostium fines, cum exerceretur inter equites, ab rapido cursu circumagendo equo effusus extemplo prope exspirauit; tertius ab eo casu dies finis uitae consuli fuit. Quo uelut omine belli accepto deos pro se commisisse bellum memorantes Etrusci sustulere animos. Romae cum desiderio uiri tum incommoditate temporis tristis nuntius fuit. Consulis subrogandi comitia ex sententia principum habita: M. Valerium consulem omnes [sententiae] centuriae[que] dixere, ut patres ab iubendo dictatore deterruerint, quem senatus dictatorem dici iussurus fuerat. Tum extemplo in Etruriam ad legiones proficisci iussit. Aduentus eius compressit Etruscos adeo ut nemo extra munimenta egredi auderet timorque ipsorum obsidioni similis esset; neque illos nouus consul uastandis agris urendisque tectis, cum passim non uillae solum sed frequentes quoque uici incendiis fumarent, elicere ad certamen potuit. Cum hoc segnius bellum opinione esset, alterius belli, quod multis in uicem cladibus haud immerito terribile erat, fama, Picentium nouorum sociorum indicio, exorta est: Samnites arma et rebellionem spectare seque ab iis sollicitatos esse. Picentibus gratiae actae et magna pars curae patribus ab Etruria in Samnites uersa est. Caritas etiam annonae sollicitam ciuitatem habuit uentumque ad inopiae ultimum foret, ut scripsere quibus aedilem fuisse eo anno Fabium Maximum placet, ni eius uiri cura, qualis in bellicis rebus multis tempestatibus fuerat, talis domi tum in annonae dispensatione praeparando ac conuehendo frumento fuisset. Eo annoŚnec traditur causaŚinterregnum initum. Interreges fuere Ap. Claudius, dein P. Sulpicius. Is comitia consularia habuit; creauit L. Cornelium Scipionem Cn. Fuluium consules. Principio huius anni oratores Lucanorum ad nouos consules uenerunt questum, quia condicionibus perlicere se nequiuerint ad societatem armorum, Samnites infesto exercitu ingressos fines suos uastare belloque ad bellum cogere. Lucano populo satis superque erratum quondam: nunc ita obstinatos animos esse ut omnia ferre ac pati tolerabilius ducant quam ut unquam postea nomen Romanum uiolent. Orare patres ut et Lucanos in fidem accipiant et uim atque iniuriam ab se Samnitium arceant; se, quamquam bello cum Samnitibus suscepto necessaria iam facta aduersus Romanos fides sit, tamen obsides dare paratos esse.