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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 32: Capture and Destruction of Fidenae[426 BC]
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Very great was the alarm in Rome. The army, demoralised by its ill-success, was recalled from Veii; an entrenched camp was formed in front of the Colline Gate, the walls were manned, the shops and law courts closed, and a cessation of all business in the Forum ordered. The whole City wore the appearance of a camp.|
The dictator despatched criers through the streets to summon the anxious citizens to an Assembly. When they were gathered together he reproached them for allowing their feelings to be so swayed by slight changes of fortune that, after meeting with an insignificant reverse, due not to the courage of the enemy or the cowardice of the Roman army, but simply to want of harmony amongst the generals, they should be in a state of panic over the Veientines, who had been defeated six times, and Fidenae, which had been captured almost more frequently than it had been attacked. Both the Romans and the enemy were the same that they had been for so many centuries, their courage, their prowess, their arms were what they had always been. They had as dictator the same Mamercus Aemilius who at Nomentum defeated the combined forces of Veii and Fidenae supported by the Faliscans; the Master of the Horse would in future battles be the same Aulus Cornelius who killed Lars Tolumnius, king of Veii, before the eyes of the two armies and carried the spolia opima to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. They must take up arms, remembering that on their side were triumphs and the spoils of victory, on the side of the enemy, the crime against the law of nations in the assassination of the ambassadors and the massacre of the colonists at Fidenae in a time of peace, a broken truce, a seventh unsuccessful revolt -- remembering all this, they must take up arms. When once they were in touch with their enemy, he was confident that the guilt-stained foe would not long rejoice over the disgrace that had overtaken the Roman army, and the people of Rome would see how much better service was rendered to the republic by those who had, for the third time, nominated him dictator, than by those who had cast a slur upon his second dictatorship because he had deprived the censors of their autocratic power.
After reciting the usual vows, he marched out and fixed his camp a mile and a half on this side of Fidenae, with the hills on his right and the Tiber on his left. He ordered Titus Quinctius to secure the hills and to seize, by a concealed movement, the ridge in the enemies' rear.
On the following day, the Etruscans advanced to battle in high spirits at their success the previous day, which had been due rather to good luck than good fighting. After waiting a short time till the scouts reported that Quinctius had gained the height near the citadel of Fidenae, the dictator ordered the attack and led the infantry at a quick double against the enemy. He gave instructions to the Master of the Horse not to begin fighting till he got orders; when he needed the assistance of the cavalry he would give him the signal, then he must take his part in the action, inspired by the memory of his combat with Tolumnius, of the spolia opima, and of Romulus and Jupiter Feretrius. The legions charged with great impetuosity. The Romans expressed their burning hatred in words as much as in deeds; they called the Fidenates traitors," the Veientines brigands," "breakers of truces," "stained with the horrible murder of the ambassadors and the blood of Roman colonists," "faithless as allies, cowardly as soldiers."
Event: War with Veii