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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 31: War against Sabines and Aequi (Cont.)[494 BC]
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Whilst these events were occurring amongst the Volscians, the dictator, after entering the Sabine territory; where the most serious part of the war lay, defeated and routed the enemy and chased them out of their camp. A cavalry charge had broken the enemy's centre which, owing to the excessive lengthening of the wings, was weakened by an insufficient depth of files, and while thus disordered the infantry charged them. In the same charge the camp was captured and the war brought to a close. Since the battle at Lake Regillus no more brilliant action had been fought in those years. |
The dictator rode in triumph into the City. In addition to the customary distinctions, a place was assigned in the Circus Maximus to him and to his posterity, from which to view the Games, and the sella curulis was placed there.
Some time later, an engagement took place with the Aequi. The consul was reluctant to fight as he would have to attack on unfavourable ground, but his soldiers forced him into action. They accused him of protracting the war in order that the dictator's term of office might expire before they returned home, in which case his promises would fall to the ground, as those of the consul had previously done. They compelled him to march his army up the mountain at all hazards; but owing to the cowardice of the enemy this unwise step resulted in success.
Whilst these three wars were thus brought to a successful issue, the course which domestic affairs were taking continued to be a source of anxiety to both the patricians and the plebeians. The money-lenders possessed such influence and had taken such skillful precautions that they rendered the commons and even the dictator himself powerless. After the consul Vetusius had returned, Valerius introduced, as the very first business of the senate, the treatment of the men who had been marching to victory, and moved a resolution as to what decision they ought to come to with regard to the debtors. His motion was negatived, on which he said, "I am not acceptable as an advocate of concord. Depend upon it, you will very soon wish that the Roman plebs had champions like me. As far as I am concerned, I will no longer encourage my fellow-citizens in vain hopes nor will I be dictator in vain. Internal dissensions and foreign wars have made this office necessary to the common-wealth; peace has now been secured abroad, at home it is made impossible. I would rather be involved in the revolution as a private citizen than as dictator." So saying, he left the House and resigned his dictatorship. The reason was quite clear to the plebs; he had resigned office because he was indignant at the way they were treated. The non-fulfilment of his pledge was not due to him, they considered that he had practically kept his word and on his way home they followed him with approving cheers.
|Dum haec in Volscis geruntur, dictator Sabinos, ubi longe plurimum belli fuerat, fundit exuitque castris. Equitatu immisso mediam turbauerat hostium aciem, quam, dum se cornua latius pandunt, parum apte introrsum ordinibus firmauerant; turbatos pedes inuasit. Eodem impetu castra capta debellatumque est. Post pugnam ad Regillum lacum non alia illis annis pugna clarior fuit. Dictator triumphans urbem inuehitur. Super solitos honores locus in circo ipsi posterisque ad spectaculum datus; sella in eo loco curulis posita. Volscis deuictis Veliternus ager ademptus; Velitras coloni ab urbe missi et colonia deducta. Cum Aequis post aliquanto pugnatum est, inuito quidem consule quia loco iniquo subeundum erat ad hostes; sed milites extrahi rem criminantes ut dictator priusquam ipsi redirent in urbem magistratu abiret inritaque, sicut ante consulis, promissa eius caderent, perpulere ut forte temere in aduersos montes agmen erigeret. Id male commissum ignauia hostium in bonum uertit, qui priusquam ad coniectum teli ueniretur, obstupefacti audacia Romanorum, relictis castris quae munitissimis tenuerant locis, in auersas ualles desiluere. Ibi satis praedae et uictoria incruenta fuit. Ita trifariam re bello bene gesta, de domesticarum rerum euentu nec patribus nec plebi cura decesserat: tanta cum gratia tum arte praeparauerant feneratores quae non modo plebem, sed ipsum etiam dictatorem frustrarentur. Namque Valerius post Vetusi consulis reditum omnium actionum in senatu primam habuit pro uictore populo, rettulitque quid de nexis fieri placeret. Quae cum reiecta relatio esset, "non placeo" inquit, "concordiae auctor. Optabitis, mediusfidius, propediem, ut mei similes Romana plebis patronos habeat. Quod ad me attinet, neque frustrabor ultra ciues meos neque ipse frustra dictator ero. Discordiae intestinae, bellum externum fecere ut hoc magistratu egeret res publica: pax foris parta est, domi impeditur; priuatus potius quam dictator seditioni interero." Ita curia egressus dictatura se abdicauit. Apparuit causa plebi, suam uicem indignantem magistratu abisse; itaque uelut persoluta fide, quoniam per eum non stetisset quin praestaretur, decedentem domum cum fauore ac laudibus prosecuti sunt.|