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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 4: War of Aequi and Volscians (Cont.)[464 BC]
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The next consuls were Aulus Postumius Albus and Spurius Furius Fusus. Some writers call the Furii, Fusii. I mention this in case any one should suppose that the different names denote different people. |
It was pretty certain that one of the consuls would continue the war with the Aequi. They sent, accordingly, to the Volscians of Ecetra for assistance. Such was the rivalry between them as to which should show the most inveterate enmity to Rome, that the assistance was readily granted, and preparations for war were carried on with the utmost energy. The Hernici became aware of what was going on and warned the Romans that Ecetra had revolted to the Aequi. The colonists of Antium were also suspected, because on the capture of that town a large number of the inhabitants had taken refuge with the Aequi, and they were the most efficient soldiers throughout the war. When the Aequi were driven into their walled towns, this body was broken up and returned to Antium. There they found the colonists already disaffected, and they succeeded in completely alienating them from Rome. Before matters were ripe, information was laid before the senate that a revolt was in preparation, and the consuls were instructed to summon the chiefs of the colony to Rome and question them as to what was going on. They came without any hesitation, but after being introduced by the consuls to the senate, they gave such unsatisfactory replies that heavier suspicion attached to them on their departure than on their arrival.
War was certain. Spurius Furius, the consul to whom the conduct of the war had been assigned, marched against the Aequi and found them committing depredations in the territory of the Hernici. Ignorant of their strength, because they were nowhere all in view at once, he rashly joined battle with inferior forces. At the first onset he was defeated, and retired into his camp, but he was not out of danger there. For that night and the next day the camp was surrounded and attacked with such vigour that not even a messenger could be despatched to Rome. The news of the unsuccessful action and the investment of the consul and his army was brought by the Hernici, and created such an alarm in the senate that they passed a decree in a form which has never been used except under extreme emergencies. They charged Postumius to "see that the common-wealth suffered no hurt."
It was thought best that the consul himself should remain in Rome to enrol all who could bear arms whilst Titus Quinctius was sent as his representative (1) to relieve the camp with an army furnished by the allies. This force was to be made up of the Latins and the Hernici, whilst the colony at Antium was to supply "subitary" troops -- a designation then applied to hastily raised auxiliary troops.
(1): representative -- He was invested with consular authority to conduct the campaign, the consul himself being detained in Rome. Livy's phrase is Pro Consule" (in the consul's stead), whence the governors-general of the provinces of the empire were designated proconsuls.
Event: War with Aequi and Volscians