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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 47: War of Rome and Veii (Cont.)[480 BC]
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Whilst the battle was restored in one direction, the consul Gnaeus Manlius was showing no less energy on the other wing, where the fortunes of the day took a similar turn.|
For, like Quintus Fabius on the other wing, the consul Manlius was here driving the enemy before him and his soldiers were following up with great vigour, when he was seriously wounded and retired from the front. Thinking that he was killed, they fell back, and would have abandoned their ground had not the other consul ridden up at full gallop with some troops of cavalry, and, crying out that his colleague was alive and that he had himself routed the other wing of the enemy, succeeded in checking the retreat. Manlius also showed himself amongst them, to rally his men. The well-known voices of the two consuls gave the soldiers fresh courage. At the same time the enemies' line was now weakened, for, trusting to their superiority in numbers, they had detached their reserves and sent them to storm the camp. These met with but slight resistance, and whilst they were wasting time by thinking more about plundering than about fighting, the Roman triarii, who had been unable to withstand the first assault, despatched messengers to the consul to tell him the position of affairs, and then, retiring in close order to the head-quarters tent, renewed the fighting without waiting for orders. The consul Manlius had ridden back to the camp and posted troops at all the gates to block the enemies' escape. The desperate situation roused the Tuscans to madness rather than courage; they rushed in every direction where there seemed any hope of escape, and for some time their efforts were fruitless. At last a compact body of young soldiers made an attack on the consul himself, conspicuous from his arms. The first weapons were intercepted by those who stood round him, but the violence of the onset could not long be withstood. The consul fell mortally wounded and all around him were scattered. The Tuscans were encouraged, the Romans fled in panic through the length of the camp, and matters would have come to extremities had not the members of the consul's staff hurriedly taken up his body and opened a way for the enemy through one gate. They burst through it, and in a confused mass fell in with the other consul who had won the battle; here they were again cut to pieces and scattered in all directions.
A glorious victory was won, though saddened by the death of two illustrious men. The senate decreed a triumph, but the consul replied that if the army could celebrate a triumph without its commander, he would gladly allow them to do so in return for their splendid service in the war. But as his family were in mourning for his brother, Marcus Fabius, and the State had suffered partial bereavement through the loss of one of its consuls, he could not accept laurels for himself which were blighted by public and private grief. The triumph he declined was more brilliant than any actually celebrated, so much does glory laid by for the moment return sometimes with added splendour. Afterwards he conducted the obsequies of his colleague and his brother, and pronounced the funeral oration over each. The greatest share of the praise which he conceded to them rested upon himself.
He had not lost sight of the object which he set before him at the beginning of his consulship, the conciliation of the plebs. To further this, he distributed amongst the patricians the care of the wounded. The Fabii took charge of a large number, and nowhere was greater care showed them. From this time they began to be popular; their popularity was won by no methods which were inconsistent with the welfare of the State.
Event: War of Rome with Veii