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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 33: War with the Volscians and Latins. Tusculum.[377 BC]
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A quarrel now arose between the Antiates and the Latins. The Antiates, crushed by their misfortunes and exhausted by a state of war which had lasted all their lives, were contemplating peace; the newly revolted Latins, who had enjoyed a long peace and whose spirits were yet unbroken, were all the more determined to keep up hostilities. When each side had convinced the other that it was perfectly free to act as it thought best, there was an end of the quarrel. The Latins took their departure and so cleared themselves from all association with a peace which they considered dishonourable; the Antiates, when once the inconvenient critics of their salutary counsels were out of the way, surrendered their city and territory to the Romans. |
The exasperation and rage of the Latins at finding themselves unable to injure the Romans in war or to induce the Volscians to keep up hostilities rose to such a pitch that they set fire to Satricum, which had been their first shelter after their defeat. They flung firebrands on sacred and profane buildings alike, and not a single roof of that city escaped except the temple of Mother Matuta. It is stated that it was not any religious scruple or fear of the gods that restrained them, but an awful Voice which sounded from the temple threatening them with terrible punishment if they did not keep their accursed firebrands far from the shrine.
Whilst in this state of frenzy, they next attacked Tusculum, in revenge for its having deserted the national Council of the Latins and not only becoming an ally of Rome but even accepting her citizenship. The attack was unexpected and they burst in through the open gates. The town was taken at the first alarm with the exception of the citadel. Thither the townsmen fled for refuge with their wives and children, after sending messengers to Rome to inform the senate of their plight. With the promptitude which the honour of the Roman people demanded an army was marched to Tusculum under the command of the consular tribunes Lucius Quinctius and Servius Sulpicius.
They found the gates of Tusculum closed and the Latins, with the feelings of men who are at once besieging and being besieged, were in one direction defending the walls and in the other attacking the citadel, inspiring terror and feeling it at the same time. The arrival of the Romans produced a change in the temper of both sides; it turned the gloomy forebodings of the Tusculans into the utmost cheerfulness, whilst the confidence which the Latins had felt in a speedy capture of the citadel, as they were already in possession of the town, sank into a faint and feeble hope of even their own safety. The Tusculans in the citadel gave a cheer, it was answered by a much louder one from the Roman army. The Latins were hard pressed on both sides; they could not withstand the attack of the Tusculans charging from the higher ground, nor could they repel the Romans who were mounting the walls and forcing the gates. The walls were first taken by escalade, then the bars of the gates were burst. The double attack in front and rear left the Latins no strength to fight and no room for escape; between the two they were killed to a man.