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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 37: A triumph for Postumius.[294 BC]
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The other consul, Postumius, finding nothing for his troops to do amongst the Samnites, led them into Etruria and began to lay waste the district of Volsinia. The townsmen came out to defend their borders and a battle ensued not far from their walls ; 2800 of the Etruscans were killed, the rest were saved by the proximity of their city. He then passed over into the Rusellan territory; there, not only were the fields harried, but the town itself was successfully assaulted. More than 2000 were made prisoners, and under 2000 killed in the storming of the place. The peace which ensued this year in Etruria was more important and redounded more to the honour of Rome than even the war which led to it. Three very powerful cities, the chief cities in Etruria, Vulsinii, Perusia, and Arretium, sued for peace, and after agreeing to supply the troops with clothing and corn, they obtained the consul's consent to send spokesmen to Rome, with the result that they obtained a forty years' truce. Each of the cities was at once to pay an indemnity of 500,000 ases. |
For these services the consul asked the senate to decree him a triumph. The request was made more as a matter of form, to comply with the established custom, than from any hope of obtaining it . He saw that some who were his personal enemies and others who were friends of his colleague refused his request on various grounds, some alleging that he had been too late in taking the field, others that he had transferred his army from Samnium to Etruria without any orders from the senate, whilst a third party were actuated by a desire to solace Atilius for the refusal which he had met with. In face of this opposition he simply said: senators, I am not so mindful of your authority as to forget that I am consul. By the same right and authority by which I have conducted wars, now that these wars have been brought to a successful close, Samnium and Etruria subdued, victory and peace secured, I shall celebrate my triumph." And with that he left the senate.
A sharp contention now broke out between the tribunes of the plebs. Some declared that they should interpose to prevent his obtaining a triumph in a way which violated all precedent, others asserted that they should give him their support in spite of their colleagues. The matter was brought before the Assembly, and the consul was invited to be present. In his speech he alluded to the cases of the consuls Marcus Horatius and Lucius Valerius and the recent one of Gaius Marcius Rutilus, the father of the man who was censor at the time. All these, he said, had been allowed a triumph, not on the authority of the senate but by an order of the people. He would have brought the question before the people himself had he not been aware that certain tribunes of the plebs who were bound hand and foot to the nobles would veto the proposal. He regarded the goodwill and favour of a unanimous people as tantamount to all the formal orders that were made.
Supported by three of the tribunes against the veto of the remaining seven and against the unanimous voice of the senate he celebrated his triumph on the following day amidst a great outburst of popular enthusiasm.
The records of this year vary widely from each other. According to Claudius, Postumius, after taking some cities in Samnium, was routed and put to flight in Apulia, he himself being wounded, and was driven with a small body of his troops to Luceria; the victories in Etruria were won by Atilius and it was he who celebrated the triumph. Fabius tells us that both consuls conducted the campaign in Samnium and at Luceria, and that the army was transferred to Etruria, but he does not say by which consul. He also states that at Luceria the losses were heavy on both sides, and that a temple was vowed to Jupiter Stator in that battle. This same vow Romulus had made many centuries before, but only the fanum, that is the site of the temple, had been consecrated. As the State had become thus doubly pledged, it became necessary to discharge its obligation to the god, and the senate made an order this year for the construction of the temple.
Event: War with Etruscans