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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 46: Invasion of the Gauls. Camillus appointed dictator.[390 BC]
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During these days there was little going on in Rome; the investment was maintained for the most part with great slackness; both sides were keeping quiet, the Gauls being mainly intent on preventing any of the enemy from slipping through their lines. Suddenly a Roman warrior drew upon himself the admiration of foes and friends alike. The Fabian house had an annual sacrifice on the Quirinal, and Gaius Fabius Dorsuo, wearing his toga in the " Gabine Cincture," and bearing in his hands the sacred vessels came down from the Capitol, passed through the middle of the hostile pickets, unmoved by either challenge or threat, and reached the Quirinal. There he duly performed all the solemn rites and returned with the same composed expression and gait, feeling sure of the divine blessing, since not even the fear of death had made him neglect the worship of the gods; finally he re-entered the Capitol and rejoined his comrades. Either the Gauls were stupefied at his extraordinary boldness, or else they were restrained by religious feelings, for as a nation they are by no means inattentive to the claims of religion. |
At Veii there was a steady accession of strength as well as courage. Not only were the Romans who had been dispersed by the defeat and the capture of the City gathering there, but volunteers from Latium also flocked to the place that they might be in for a share of the booty. The time now seemed ripe for the recovery of their native City out of the hands of the enemy.
It was decided by general consent that Camillus should be invited from Ardea, but the senate was to be consulted first; to such an extent was everything regulated by reverence for law; the proper distinctions of things were observed, even though the things themselves were almost lost.
Frightful risk would have to be incurred in passing through the enemies' outposts. Pontius Cominius, a fine soldier, offered himself for the task. Supporting himself on a cork float, he was carried down the Tiber to the City. Selecting the nearest way from the bank of the river, he scaled a precipitous rock which, owing to its steepness, the enemy had left unguarded, and found his way into the Capitol. On being brought before the supreme magistrates he delivered his instructions from the army. After receiving the decree of the senate, which was to the effect that after being recalled from exile by the comitia curiata Camillus should be forthwith nominated dictator by order of the people, and the soldiers should have the commander they wanted, the messenger returned by the same route and made the best of his way to Veii. A deputation was sent to Ardea to conduct Camillus to Veii. The law was passed in the comitia curiata annulling his banishment and nominating him dictator, and it is, I think, more likely that he did not start from Ardea until he learnt that this law had been passed, because he could not change his domicile without the sanction of the people, nor could he take the auspices in the name of the army until he had been duly nominated dictator.
|Romae interim plerumque obsidio segnis et utrimque silentium esse, ad id tantum intentis Gallis ne quis hostium euadere inter stationes posset, cum repente iuuenis Romanus admiratione in se ciues hostesque conuertit. Sacrificium erat statum in Quirinali colle genti Fabiae. Ad id faciendum C. Fabius Dorsuo Gabino [cinctus in] cinctus sacra manibus gerens cum de Capitolio descendisset, per medias hostium stationes egressus nihil ad uocem cuiusquam terroremue motus in Quirinalem collem peruenit; ibique omnibus sollemniter peractis, eadem reuertens similiter constanti uoltu graduque, satis sperans propitios esse deos quorum cultum ne mortis quidem metu prohibitus deseruisset, in Capitolium ad suos rediit, seu attonitis Gallis miraculo auda ciae seu religione etiam motis cuius haudquaquam neglegens gens est. Veiis interim non animi tantum in dies sed etiam uires crescebant. Nec Romanis solum eo conuenientibus ex agris qui aut proelio aduerso aut clade captae urbis palati fuerant, sed etiam ex Latio uoluntariis confluentibus ut in parte praedae essent, maturum iam uidebatur repeti patriam eripique ex hostium manibus; sed corpori ualido caput deerat. Locus ipse admonebat Camilli, et magna pars militum erat qui ductu auspicioque eius res prospere gesserant; et Caedicius negare se commissurum cur sibi aut deorum aut hominum quisquam imperium finiret potius quam ipse memor ordinis sui posceret imperatorem. Consensu omnium placuit ab Ardea Camillum acciri, sed antea consulto senatu qui Romae esset: adeo regebat omnia pudor discriminaque rerum prope perditis rebus seruabant. Ingenti periculo transeundum per hostium custodias erat. Ad eam rem Pontius Cominus impiger iuuenis operam pollicitus, incubans cortici secundo Tiberi ad urbem defertur. Inde qua proximum fuit a ripa, per praeruptum eoque neglectum hostium custodiae saxum in Capitolium euadit, et ad magistratus ductus mandata exercitus edit. Accepto inde senatus consulto uti comitiis curiatis reuocatus de exsilio iussu populi Camillus dictator extemplo diceretur militesque haberent imperatorem quem uellent, eadem degressus nuntius Veios contendit; missique Ardeam legati ad Camillum Veios eum perduxere, seu-quod magis credere libet, non prius profectum ab Ardea quam compererit legem latam, quod nec iniussu populi mutari finibus posset nec nisi dictator dictus auspicia in exercitu habere—lex curiata lata est dictatorque absens dictus.|