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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 13: War with the Samnites. To Luceria.[320 BC]
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Accordingly they drew up their forces for action. |
Before engaging them Publilius thought he ought to address a few words to his men, and ordered the Assembly to be sounded. There was such an eager rush, however, to the general's tent, and such loud shouts were raised in all directions as the men clamoured to be led to battle, that none of the general's address was heard; the memory of their recent disgrace was quite enough of itself to stimulate every man to fight. They strode rapidly into battle, urging the standard-bearers to move faster, and, to avoid any delay in having to hurl their javelins, they flung them away as if at a given signal and rushed upon the enemy with naked steel. There was no time for the commander's skill to be shown in manoeuvring his men or posting his reserves, it was all carried through by the enraged soldiers, who charged like madmen. The enemy were not only routed, they did not even venture to stay their flight at their camp, but went in scattered parties in the direction of Apulia. Eventually they rallied and reached Luceria in a body. The same rage and fury which had carried the Romans through the midst of the enemy hurried them on to the Samnite camp, and more carnage took place there than on the battle-field. Most of the plunder was destroyed in their excitement.
The other army under Papirius had marched along the coast and reached Arpi. The whole of the country through which he passed was peaceably disposed, an attitude which was due more to the injuries inflicted by the Samnites than to any services which the Romans had rendered. For the Samnites used to live at that day in open hamlets among the mountains, and they were in the habit of making marauding incursions into the low country and the coastal districts. Living the free open-air life of mountaineers, themselves they despised the less hardy cultivators of the plains who, as often happens, had developed a character in harmony with their surroundings. If this tract of country had been on good terms with the Samnites, the Roman army would either have failed to reach Arpi or they would have been unable to obtain provisions on their route, and so would have been cut off from supplies of every kind. Even as it was, when they had advanced to Luceria both besieged and besiegers were suffering from scarcity of provisions. The Romans drew all their supplies from Arpi but in very small quantities, for, as the infantry were all employed in outpost and patrol duty and in the construction of the siege-works, the cavalry brought the corn from Arpi in their haversacks, and sometimes when they encountered the enemy they were compelled to throw these away so as to be free to fight. The besieged, on the other hand, were obtaining their provisions and reinforcements from Samnium. But the arrival of the other consul, Publilius, with his victorious army led to their being more closely invested. He left the conduct of the siege to his colleague that he might be free to intercept the enemy's convoys on all sides. When the Samnites, who were encamped before Luceria, found that there was no hope of the besieged enduring their privations any longer, they were compelled to concentrate their whole strength and offer battle to Papirius.
|Aduersus quos Publilius consul cum dimicaturus esset, prius adloquendos milites ratus contionem aduocari iussit; ceterum sicut ingenti alacritate ad praetorium concursum est, ita prae clamore poscentium pugnam nulla adhortatio imperatoris audita est; suus cuique animus memor ignominiae adhortator aderat. Vadunt igitur in proelium urgentes signiferos et, ne mora in concursu pilis emittendis stringendisque inde gladiis esset, pila uelut dato ad id signo abiciunt strictisque gladiis cursu in hostem feruntur. Nihil illic imperatoriae artis ordinibus aut subsidiis locandis fuit; omnia ira militaris prope uesano impetu egit. Itaque non fusi modo hostes sunt sed ne castris quidem suis fugam impedire ausi Apuliam dissipati petiere; Luceriam tamen coacto rursus in unum agmine est peruentum. Romanos ira eadem, quae per mediam aciem hostium tulerat, et in castra pertulit. Ibi plus quam in acie sanguinis ad caedis factum praedaeque pars maior ira corrupta. Exercitus alter cum Papirio consule locis maritimis peruenerat Arpos per omnia pacata Samnitium magis iniuriis et odio quam beneficio ullo populi Romani; nam Samnites, ea tempestate in montibus uicatim habitantes, campestria et maritima loca contempto cultorum molliore atque, ut euenit fere, locis simili genere ipsi montani atque agrestes depopulabantur. Quae regio si fida Samnitibus fuisset, aut peruenire Arpos exercitus Romanus nequisset aut interiecta [inter Romam et Arpos] penuria rerum omnium exclusos a commeatibus absumpsisset. Tum quoque profectos inde ad Luceriam iuxta obsidentes obsessosque inopia uexauit: omnia ab Arpis Romanis suppeditabantur, ceterum adeo exigue ut militi occupato stationibus uigiliisque et opere eques folliculis in castra ab Arpis frumentum ueheret, interdum occursu hostium cogeretur abiecto ex equo frumento pugnare: obsessis priusquam alter consul uictore exercitu aduenit, et commeatus ex montibus Samnitium inuecti erant et auxilia intromissa. Artiora omnia aduentus Publili fecit, qui obsidione delegata in curam collegae uacuus per agros cuncta infesta commeatibus hostium fecerat. Itaque cum spes nulla esset diutius obsessos inopiam laturos, coacti Samnites, qui ad Luceriam castra habebant, undique contractis uiribus signa cum Papirio conferre.|