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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 21: A great alliance formed.[296 BC]
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This predatory incursion into Campania created great excitement in Rome, and it so happened that just at this time grave news was received from Etruria. After the withdrawal of Volumnius' army, the whole country, acting in concert with the Samnite captain-general Gellius Egnatius, had risen in arms; whilst the Umbrians were being called on to join the movement, and the Gauls were being approached with offers of lavish pay. The senate, thoroughly alarmed at these tidings, ordered all legal and other business to be suspended, and men of all ages and of every class to be enrolled for service. Not only were the free-born and all within the military age obliged to take the military oath, but cohorts were formed of the older men, and even the freedmen were formed into centuries. Arrangements were made for the defence of the City, and Publius Semproniustook supreme command. |
The senate was, however, relieved of some of its anxiety by the receipt of despatches from Lucius Volumnius, from which it was ascertained that the raiders of Campania had been routed and killed. Thanksgivings for this success were ordered in honour of the consul, the suspension of business was withdrawn after lasting eighteen days, and the thanksgivings were of a most joyous character.
The next question was the protection of the district which had been devastated by the Samnites, and it was decided to settle bodies of colonists about the Vescinian and Falernian country. One was to be at the mouth of the Liris, now called the colony of Menturna, the other in the Vescinian Forest where it is contiguous with the territory of Falernum. Here the Greek city of Sinope is said to have stood, and from this the Romans gave the place the name of Sinuessa. It was arranged that the tribunes of the plebs should get a plebiscite passed requiring Publius Sempronius, the praetor, to appoint commissioners for the founding of colonies in those spots. But it was not easy to find people to be sent to what was practically a permanent outpost in a dangerously hostile country, instead of having fields allotted to them for cultivation.
The attention of the senate was diverted from these matters to the growing seriousness of the outlook in Etruria. There were frequent despatches from Appius warning them not to neglect the movement that was going on in that part of the world; four nations were in arms together, the Etruscans, the Samnites, the Umbrians, and the Gauls, and they were compelled to form two separate camps, for one place would not hold so great a multitude. The date of the elections was approaching, and Volumnius was recalled to Rome to conduct them, and also to advise on the general policy. Before calling upon the centuries to vote he summoned the people to an Assembly. Here he dwelt at some length upon the serious nature of the war in Etruria. Even, he said, when he and his colleague were conducting a joint campaign, the war was on too large a scale for any single general with his one army to cope with. Since then he understood that the Umbrians and an enormous force of Gauls had swollen the ranks of their enemies. The electors must bear in mind that two consuls were being elected on that day to act against four nations. The choice of the Roman people would, he felt certain, fall on the one man who was unquestionably the foremost of all their generals. Had he not felt sure of this he was prepared to nominate him at once as dictator.
Event: Fourth war with Samnites