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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 31: War against Sabines and Aequi (Cont.)[494 BC]
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Whilst these events were occurring amongst the Volscians, the dictator, after entering the Sabine territory; where the most serious part of the war lay, defeated and routed the enemy and chased them out of their camp. A cavalry charge had broken the enemy's centre which, owing to the excessive lengthening of the wings, was weakened by an insufficient depth of files, and while thus disordered the infantry charged them. In the same charge the camp was captured and the war brought to a close. Since the battle at Lake Regillus no more brilliant action had been fought in those years. |
The dictator rode in triumph into the City. In addition to the customary distinctions, a place was assigned in the Circus Maximus to him and to his posterity, from which to view the Games, and the sella curulis was placed there.
Some time later, an engagement took place with the Aequi. The consul was reluctant to fight as he would have to attack on unfavourable ground, but his soldiers forced him into action. They accused him of protracting the war in order that the dictator's term of office might expire before they returned home, in which case his promises would fall to the ground, as those of the consul had previously done. They compelled him to march his army up the mountain at all hazards; but owing to the cowardice of the enemy this unwise step resulted in success.
Whilst these three wars were thus brought to a successful issue, the course which domestic affairs were taking continued to be a source of anxiety to both the patricians and the plebeians. The money-lenders possessed such influence and had taken such skillful precautions that they rendered the commons and even the dictator himself powerless. After the consul Vetusius had returned, Valerius introduced, as the very first business of the senate, the treatment of the men who had been marching to victory, and moved a resolution as to what decision they ought to come to with regard to the debtors. His motion was negatived, on which he said, "I am not acceptable as an advocate of concord. Depend upon it, you will very soon wish that the Roman plebs had champions like me. As far as I am concerned, I will no longer encourage my fellow-citizens in vain hopes nor will I be dictator in vain. Internal dissensions and foreign wars have made this office necessary to the common-wealth; peace has now been secured abroad, at home it is made impossible. I would rather be involved in the revolution as a private citizen than as dictator." So saying, he left the House and resigned his dictatorship. The reason was quite clear to the plebs; he had resigned office because he was indignant at the way they were treated. The non-fulfilment of his pledge was not due to him, they considered that he had practically kept his word and on his way home they followed him with approving cheers.
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.
Sella curulis:"the chariot seat", and hence the seat of the supreme magistrate when administering justice.