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Quote of the day: He subsequently incurred the degrading i
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 35: War with Samnites. The plan of Publius Decius Mus.[343 BC]
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After arranging the watches, he [Note 1] ordered the tessera to be given to the rest of the troops; when the bugle sounded for the second watch they were to muster round him in silence. When they had assembled in accordance with instructions, he said: "This silence, soldiers, must be maintained, and all applause as you listen to me checked. When I have laid my proposals fully before you, those of you who approve will cross over silently to the right. The opinion of the majority will be adopted. Now listen to my plans. You were not carried here in flight, nor have you been abandoned through cowardice, and the enemy are investing you. You seized this position by your courage, by your courage you must get away from it. By coming here you have saved a splendid army for Rome, now you must save yourselves by cutting your way out. Though few in number you have brought aid to many, and it is only fitting to your deserts that you yourselves should need the aid of none. We have to do with an enemy who through his slackness yesterday failed to use the chance which Fortune gave him of wiping out an entire army; who did not perceive this most useful peak hanging over his head until it had been seized by us. With all their thousands of men they did not prevent us, few as we are, from climbing it, and now that we are holding it, did they, though plenty of daylight remained, enclose us with lines of circumvallation? The enemy whom you eluded while his eyes were open, and he was on the watch, you certainly ought to evade when he is heavy with sleep. In fact, it is absolutely necessary for you to do so, for our position is such that I have rather to point out the necessity in which you are placed than to suggest any plan of action. For there can be no question as to your remaining here or departing, since Fortune has left you nothing but your arms and the courage which knows how to use them. If we show more fear of the sword than becomes men and Romans we shall have to die of hunger and thirst. Our one chance of safety, then, lies in our breaking our way through and departing. We must do that either in the daytime or at night. But this is a point which admits of little doubt; if we wait for daylight how can we hope that the enemy, who, as you see, has drawn a ring of men all round us, will not completely enclose us with entrenchments? On the other hand, if night be best for our sortie, as it most certainly is, then this hour of the night is most assuredly the fittest. You have mustered at the call for the second watch, an hour when men are buried in sleep. You will pass through them in silence, unnoticed by the sleepers, but should they become aware of your presence you will throw them into a panic by a sudden shout. You have followed me so far, follow me still, while I follow Fortune who has guided us here Those of you who think this a safe plan step forward and pass over to the right."

Note 1: he = Publius Decius Mus

Event: First war with Samnites

Vigiliis deinde dispositis ceteris omnibus tesseram dari iubet, ubi secundae uigiliae bucina datum signum esset, armati cum silentio ad se conuenirent. Quo ubi, sicut edictum erat, taciti conuenerunt, "hoc silentium, milites," inquit, "omisso militari adsensu in me audiendo seruandum est. Vbi sententiam meam uobis peregero, tum quibus eadem placebunt in dextram partem taciti transibitis; quae pars maior erit, eo stabitur consilio. Nunc quae mente agitem audite. Non fuga delatos nec inertia relictos hic uos circumuenit hostis: uirtute cepistis locum, uirtute hinc oportet euadatis. Veniendo huc exercitum egregium populo Romano seruastis: erumpendo hinc uosmet ipsos seruate; digni estis qui pauci pluribus opem tuleritis, ipsi nullius auxilio egueritis. Cum eo hoste res est, qui hesterno die delendi omnis exercitus fortuna per socordiam usus non sit, hunc tam opportunum collem imminentem capiti suo non ante uiderit quam captum a nobis, nos tam paucos tot ipse milibus hominum nec ascensu arcuerit nec tenentes locum, cum diei tantum superesset, uallo circumdederit. Quem uidentem ac uigilantem sic eluseritis, sopitum oportet fallatis, immo necesse est; in eo enim loco res sunt nostrae ut uobis ego magis necessitas uestrae index quam consilii auctor sim. Neque enim, maneatis an abeatis hinc, deliberari potest, cum praeter arma et animos armorum memores nihil uobis fortuna reliqui fecerit fameque et siti moriendum sit, si plus quam uiros ac Romanos decet ferrum timeamus. Ergo una est salus erumpere hinc atque abire; id aut interdiu aut nocte faciamus oportet. Ecce autem aliud minus dubium; quippe, si lux exspectetur, quae spes est non uallo perpetuo fossaque nos saepturum hostem, qui nunc corporibus suis subiectis undique cinxerit, ut uidetis, collem? Atqui si nox opportuna est eruptioni, sicut est, haec profecto noctis aptissima hora est. Signo secundae uigiliae conuenistis, quod tempus mortales somno altissimo premit; per corpora sopita uadetis uel silentio incautos fallentes uel sentientibus clamore subito pauorem iniecturi. Me modo sequimini, quem secuti estis; ego eandem quae duxit huc sequar fortunam. Quibus haec salutaria uidentur, agitedum in dextram partem pedibus transite."