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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 29: War with Praeneste. Battle along the Alia.[380 BC]
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In these different moods, each side reached the banks of the Alia. When the enemy came into view in battle formation ready for action, the dictator [Note 1] turned to Aulus Sempronius, "Do you see," he said, "how they have taken their station on the Alia relying on the fortune of the place? May heaven have given them nothing more certain to trust to, or stronger to help them! You, however, placing your confidence in arms and valour, will charge their centre at full gallop, while I with the legions will attack them whilst in disorder. Ye deities who watch over treaties, assist us, and exact the penalties due from those who have sinned against you and deceived us by appealing to your divinity!" |
Neither the cavalry charge nor the infantry attack was sustained by the Praenestines. At the first onset and battle shout their ranks were broken, and when no portion of the line any longer kept its formation they turned and fled in confusion. In their panic they were carried past their camp, and did not stop their headlong flight until they were within sight of Praeneste. There the fugitives rallied and seized a position which they hastily fortified; they were afraid of retiring within the walls of their city lest their territory should be wasted with fire and, after everything had been devastated, the city should be invested. The Romans, however, after spoiling the camp at the Alia, came up; this position, therefore, was also abandoned. They shut themselves in Praeneste, feeling hardly safe even behind its walls.
There were eight towns under the jurisdiction of Praeneste. These were successively attacked and reduced without much fighting. Then the army advanced against Velitrae, which was successfully stormed. Finally, they arrived at Praeneste, the origin and centre of the war. It was captured, not by assault, but after surrender.
After being thus victorious in battle and capturing two camps and nine towns belonging to the enemy and receiving the surrender of Praeneste, Titus Quinctius returned to Rome. In his triumphal procession he carried up to the Capitol the image of Jupiter Imperator, which had been brought from Praeneste. It was set up in a recess between the shrines of Jupiter and Minerva, and a tablet was affixed to the pedestal recording the dictator's successes. The inscription ran something like this: "Jupiter and all the gods have granted this boon to Titus Quinctius the dictator, that he should capture nine towns."
Event: War with Praeneste
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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.