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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 2: War with the Volscians and Aequi.[389 BC]
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-- They were not, however, long left undisturbed whilst thus considering the best means of restoring the common-wealth after its grievous fall. On the one side, the Volscians, their ancient foes, had taken up arms in the determination to wipe out the name of Rome; on the other side, traders were bringing in reports of an assembly at the fane of Voltumna, where the leading men from all the Etruscan cantons were forming a hostile league. Still further alarm was created by the defection of the Latins and Hernicans. After the Battle of Lake Regillus these nations had never wavered for 100 years in their loyal friendship with Rome. |
As so many dangers were threatening on all sides and it became evident the name of Rome was not only held in hatred by her foes, but regarded with contempt by her allies, the senate decided that the State should be defended under the auspices of the man by whom it had been recovered, and that Marcus Furius Camillus should be nominated dictator. He nominated as his Master of the Horse, Gaius Servilius Ahala, and after closing the law courts and suspending all business he proceeded to enroll all the men of military age. Those of the " seniors" who still possessed some vigour were placed in separate centuries after they had taken the military oath.
When he had completed the enrollment and equipment of the army he formed it into three divisions. One he stationed in the Veientine territory fronting Etruria. The second was ordered to form an entrenched camp to cover the City; Aulus Manlius, as military tribune, was in command of this division, whilst Lucius Aemilius in a similar capacity directed the movement against the Etruscans. The third division he led in person against the Volscians and advanced to attack their encampment at a place called Ad Mecium, not far from Lanuvium. They had gone to war in a feeling of contempt for their enemy as they believed that almost all the Roman fighting men had been annihilated by the Gauls, but when they heard that Camillus was in command they were filled with such alarm that they raised a rampart round them and barricaded the rampart with trees piled up round it to prevent the enemy from penetrating their lines at any point.
As soon as he became aware of this Camillus ordered fire to be thrown on the barricade. The wind happened to be blowing strongly towards the enemy, and so it not only opened up a way through the fire, but by driving the flames into the camp it produced such consternation amongst the defenders, with the steam and smoke and crackling of the green wood as it burnt, that the Roman soldiers found less difficulty in surmounting the rampart and forcing the camp than in crossing the burnt barricade. The enemy were routed and cut to pieces. After the capture of the camp the dictator gave the booty to the soldiers; an act all the more welcome to them as they did not expect it from a general by no means given to generosity. In the pursuit he ravaged the length and breadth of the Volscian territory, and at last after seventy years of war forced them to surrender.