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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 19: The Capture of Veii.[396 BC]
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By this time the Games and the Latin Festival been celebrated afresh, and the water drawn off from the Alban Lake on the fields, and now the fated doom was closing over Veii. Accordingly the commander destined by the Fates for the destruction of that city and the salvation of his country -- Marcus Furius Camillus -- was nominated dictator. He appointed as his Master of the Horse Publius Cornelius Scipio. With the change in the command everything else suddenly changed; men's hopes were different, their spirits were different, even the fortunes of the City wore a different aspect.|
His first measure was to execute military justice upon those who had fled during the panic from the camp, and he made the soldiers realise that it was not the enemy who was most to be feared. He then appointed a day for the enrolment of troops, and in the interim went to Veii to encourage the soldiers, after which he returned to Rome to raise a fresh army. Not a man tried to escape enlistment. Even foreign troops -- Latins and Hernicans -- came to offer assistance for the war. The dictator formally thanked them in the senate, and as all the preparations for war were now sufficiently advanced, he vowed, in pursuance of a senatorial decree, that on the capture of Veii he would celebrate the Great Games and restore and dedicate the temple of Matuta the Mother, which had been originally dedicated by Servius Tullius. He left the City with his army amid a general feeling of anxious expectation rather than of hopeful confidence on the part of the citizens, and his first engagement was with the Faliscans and Capenates in the territory of Nepete. As usual where everything was managed with consummate skill and prudence, success followed. He not only defeated the enemy in the field, but he stripped them of their camp and secured immense booty. The greater part was sold and the proceeds paid over to the quaestor, the smaller share was given to the soldiers.
From there the army was led to Veii. The forts were constructed more closely together. Frequent skirmishes had occurred at random in the space between the city wall and the Roman lines, and an edict was issued that none should fight without orders, thereby keeping the soldiers to the construction of the siege-works. By far the greatest and most difficult of these was a mine which was commenced, and designed to lead into the enemies' citadel. That the work might not be interrupted, or the troops exhausted by the same men being continuously employed in underground labour, he formed the army into six divisions. Each division was told off in rotation to work for six hours at a time; the work went on without any intermission until they had made a way into the citadel.
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Great Games:Were celebrated in honour of a God, usually in fulfilment of a vow made by the commander-in-chief at the commencement of a war, or as an act of thanksgiving at deliverance of the City from some great danger.
Quaestor:There were two sets of officers bearing this title, the commissioners of the treasure, and the "trackers of murder" -- as their title may be literally translated -- whose duty was to search for and bring up for prosecution those who had been guilty of capital crimes.