Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
No links to documents found
Do not display Latin text
History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 27: War with the Volscians and Aequi. Cont.[431 BC]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
All these preparations were completed with extraordinary despatch. The consul Gnaeus Julius was left in charge of the defences of the City; Lucius Julius, the Master of the Horse, took command of the reserves to meet any sudden emergency, and to prevent operations from being delayed through inadequacy of supplies at the front. As the war was such a serious one, the dictator [Note 1] vowed in the form of words prescribed by the Pontifex Maximus, Aulus Cornelius, to celebrate the Great Games if he were victorious. He formed the army into two divisions, one of which he assigned to the consul Quinctius, and their joint force advanced up to the enemies' position. As they saw that the hostile camps were separated by a short distance from each other, they also formed separate camps, about a mile from the enemy, the dictator fixing his in the direction of Tusculum, the consul nearer Lanuvium.
The four armies had thus separate entrenched positions, with a plain between them broad enough not only for small skirmishes, but for both armies to be drawn out in battle order. Ever since the camps had confronted each other there had been no cessation of small fights, and the dictator was quite content for his men to match their strength against the enemy, in order that through the issues of these contests they might entertain the hope of a decisive and final victory. The enemy, hopeless of winning a regular battle, determined to stake everything on the chances of a night attack on the consul's camp. The shout which suddenly arose not only startled the consul's outposts and the whole army, but even woke the dictator. Everything depended on prompt action; the consul showed equal courage and coolness; part of his troops reinforced the guards at the camp gates, the rest lined the entrenchments. As the dictator's camp was not attacked, it was easier for him to see what had to be done. Supports were at once sent to the consul under Spurius Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general, and the dictator in person with a portion of his force made for a place away from the actual fighting, from which to make an attack on the enemy's rear. He left Quintus Sulpicius, lieutenant-general, in charge of the camp, and gave the command of the cavalry to Marcus Fabius, lieutenant general, with orders not to move their troops before daylight, as it was difficult to handle them in the confusion of a night attack. Besides taking every measure which any other general of prudence and energy would have taken under the circumstances, the dictator gave a striking instance of his courage and generalship, which deserves especial praise, for, on ascertaining that the enemy had left his camp with the greater part of his force, he sent Marcus Geganius with some picked cohorts to storm it. The defenders were thinking more of the issue of their comrades' dangerous enterprise than of taking precautions for their own safety, even their outposts and picket-duty were neglected, and he stormed and captured the camp almost before the enemy realised that it was attacked. When the dictator saw the smoke -- the agreed signal -- he called out that the enemy's camp was taken, and ordered the news to be spread everywhere.

Note 1: dictator = Postumius

Event: War with Volscians and Aqui

Haec omnia celeritate ingenti acta; relictoque Cn. Iulio consule ad praesidium urbis et L. Iulio magistro equitum ad subita belli ministeria, ne qua res qua eguissent in castris moraretur, dictator, praeeunte A. Cornelio pontifice maximo, ludos magnos tumultus causa uouit, profectusque ab urbe, diviso cum Quinctio consule exercitu, ad hostes pervenit. Sicut bina castra hostium paruo inter se spatio distantia viderant, ipsi quoque mille ferme passus ab hoste dictator Tusculo, consul Lanuuio propiorem locum castris ceperunt. Ita quattuor exercitus, totidem munimenta planitiem in medio non paruis modo excursionibus ad proelia, sed vel ad explicandas utrimque acies satis patentem habebant. Nec ex quo castris castra conlata sunt cessatum a leuibus proeliis est, facile patiente dictatore conferendo vires spem universae victoriae temptato paulatim euentu certaminum suos praecipere. Itaque hostes nulla in proelio iusto relicta spe, noctu adorti castra consulis rem in casum ancipitis euentus committunt. Clamor subito ortus non consulis modo vigiles, exercitum deinde omnem, sed dictatorem quoque ex somno exciuit. Ubi praesenti ope res egebant, consul nec animo defecit nec consilio: pars militum portarum stationes firmat, pars corona vallum cingunt. In alteris apud dictatorem castris quo minus tumultus est, eo plus animadvertitur quid opus facto sit. Missum extemplo ad castra subsidium, cui Sp. Postumius Albus legatus praeficitur: ipse parte copiarum paruo circuitu locum maxime secretum ab tumultu petit, unde ex necopinato auersum hostem invadat. Q. Sulpicium legatum praeficit castris; M. Fabio legato adsignat equites, nec ante lucem movere iubet manum inter nocturnos tumultus moderatu difficilem. Omnia quae vel alius imperator prudens et impiger in tali re praeciperet ageretque, praecipit ordine atque agit: illud eximium consilii animique specimen et neutiquam volgatae laudis, quod ultro ad oppugnanda castra hostium, unde maiore agmine profectos exploratum fuerat, M. Geganium cum cohortibus delectis misit. Qui postquam intentos homines in euentum periculi alieni, pro se incautos neglectis vigiliis stationibusque est adortus, prius paene cepit castra quam oppugnari hostes satis scirent. Inde fumo, ut conuenerat, datum signum ubi conspectum ab dictatore est, exclamat capta hostium castra nuntiarique passim iubet.