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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 25: Preparations to meet the four Nations.[295 BC]
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When this decision was come to, all the men of military age flocked to the consul, and every one began to give in his name, so eager were they to serve under him as their general. Seeing himself surrounded by this crowd, he called out: "I do not intend to enlist more than 4000 infantry and 6oo cavalry, and will take with me those of you who give in your names to-day and tomorrow. I am more concerned to bring you all back wealthy men than to have a large number of men for my fighting force." |
With this compact army full of confidence and hope -- all the more so because he felt no need of a great host -- he marched to the town of Aharna, which was not far from the enemy, and from there went on to Appius' camp. He was still some miles distant from it when he was met by some soldiers sent to cut wood who were accompanied by an armed escort. When they saw the lictors marching in front of him, and heard that it was Fabius their consul, they were overjoyed and thanked the gods and the people of Rome for having sent him to them as their commander. As they pressed round the consul to salute him, Fabius asked them where they were going, and on their replying that they were going to cut wood, "What do you say?" he inquired; "surely you have a ramparted camp?" They informed him that they had a double rampart and fosse round the camp, and yet they were in a state of mortal fear. "Well, then," he replied, "go back and pull down your stockade, and you will have quite enough wood." They returned into camp and began to demolish the rampart, to the great terror of those who had remained in camp, and especially of Appius himself, until the news spread from one to another that they were acting under the orders of Quintus Fabius, the consul. On the following day the camp was shifted, and Appius was sent back to Rome to take up his duties as praetor.
From that time the Romans had no standing camp. Fabius said that it was bad for the army to remain fixed in one spot; it became more healthy and active by frequent marches and change of position. They made as long and frequent marches as the season allowed, for the winter was not yet over. As soon as spring set in, he left the second legion at Clusium, formerly called Camars, and placed Lucius Scipio in charge of the camp as propraetor. He then returned to Rome to consult the senate as to future operations. He may have taken this step on his own initiative after finding from personal observation that the war was a bigger thing than he had believed it to be from the reports received, or he may have been summoned home by the senate; both reasons are assigned by our authorities. Some want to make it appear that he was compelled to return, owing to the action of Appius Claudius, who had sent alarming despatches about the state of things in Etruria, and was now adding to the alarm by his speeches in the senate and before the Assembly. He considered one general with only one army quite insufficient to cope with four nations; whether they combined their forces against him or acted separately, there was the danger of his being unable, single-handed, to meet all emergencies. He had left only two legions there, and less than 5000 infantry and cavalry had arrived with Fabius, and he advised that Publius Decius should join his colleague in Etruria as soon as possible. Samnium could be handed over to Lucius Volumnius, or, if the consul preferred to keep to his own province, Volumnius should go to the support of Fabius with a full consular army.
As the praetor's representations were producing a considerable impression, we are told that Decius gave it as his opinion that Fabius ought not to be interfered with, but left free to act as he thought best until he had either himself come to Rome, if he could do so with safety to the State, or had sent some member of his staff from whom the senate could learn the actual state of things in Etruria, what force would be necessary, and how many generals would be required.