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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 25: Commencement of the Second Samnite War.[326 BC]
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A laetisternium took place this year (326 B.C.), the fifth since the foundation of the City, and the same deities were propitiated in this as in the former one. |
The new consuls, acting on the orders of the people, sent heralds to deliver a formal declaration of war to the Samnites, and made all their preparations on a much greater scale for this war than for the one against the Greeks. New and unexpected succours were forthcoming, for the Lucanians and Apulians, with whom Rome had up to that time established no relations, came forward with offers to make an alliance and promised armed assistance; a friendly alliance was formed with them. Meantime the operations in Samnium were attended with success, the towns of Allifae, Callifae, and Rufrium passed into the hands of the Romans, and ever since the consuls had entered the country the rest of the territory was ravaged far and wide.
Whilst this war was commencing thus favourably, the other war against the Greeks was approaching its close. Not only were the two towns Palaeopolis and Neapolis cut off from all communication with each other by the enemy's lines, but the townsfolk within the walls were practically prisoners to their own defenders, and were suffering more from them than from anything which the outside enemy could do; their wives and children were exposed to such extreme indignities as are only inflicted when cities are stormed and sacked. A report reached them that succours were coming from Tarentum and from the Samnites. They considered that they had more Samnites than they wanted already within their walls, but the force from Tarentum composed of Greeks, they were prepared to welcome, being Greeks themselves, and through their means they hoped to resist the Samnites and the Nolans no less than the Romans.
At last, surrender to the Romans seemed the less of the two evils. Charilaus and Nymphius, the leading men in the city, arranged with one another the respective parts they were to play. One was to desert to the Roman commander, the other to remain in the city and prepare it for the successful execution of their plot. Charilaus was the one who went to Publilius Philo. After expressing the hope that all might turn out for the good and happiness of Palaeopolis and Rome, he went on to say that he had decided to deliver up the fortifications. Whether in doing this he should be found to have preserved his country or betrayed it depended upon the Roman sense of honour. For himself he made no terms and asked for no conditions, but for his countrymen he begged rather than stipulated that if his design succeeded the people of Rome should take into consideration the eagerness with which they sought to renew the old friendly relations, and the risk attending their action rather than their folly and recklessness in breaking the old ties of duty. The Roman commander gave his approval to the proposed scheme and furnished him with 3000 men to seize that part of the city which was in the occupation of the Samnites. Lucius Quinctius, a military tribune was in command of this force.
Lectisternium:It was essentially a banquet of the gods; richly covered couches were placed round tables which were loaded with offerings from the sacrifices which were going on in the temples and in private houses throughout the City. On these couches were laid either the emblems of the particular deity of draped wax effigies. Whether it was an importation from Greece or an old Italian rite seems doubtful.