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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 56: Operations against the Volscians.[408 BC]
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At Rome, whilst the plebs had been so far victorious as to secure the election which they preferred, the result of that election was a victory for the senate. Contrary to all expectation, three patricians were elected consular tribunes, viz., Gaius Julius Julus, Publius Cornelius Cossus, and Gaius Servilius Ahala. It was stated that the patricians had recourse to a trick; the Icilii actually accused them of it at the time. They were charged with having introduced a crowd of unsuitable candidates amongst those who were worthy of being elected, and the disgust felt at the notoriously low character of some of these candidates alienated the people from the plebeian candidates as a body. |
After this a report was received that the Volscians and Aequi were devoting their utmost energies to getting ready for war. Either the fact that they had kept possession of the citadel of Carventum had raised their hopes, or the loss of the detachment at Verrugo had roused their ire. The Antiates were stated to be the prime movers; their ambassadors had gone the round of the cities of both nations reproaching them with cowardice in having skulked behind their walls the year before and allowing the Romans to harry their fields in all directions and the garrison at Verrugo to be destroyed. Not only were armies despatched, but even colonists were being settled in their territories. Not only had the Romans distributed their property amongst themselves, but they had even made a present to the Hernici, of Ferentinum, after they had taken it. These reproaches kindled the war spirit in each city as they came to it, and a large number of fighting men were enrolled. A force gathered from all the States was concentrated at Antium; there they fixed their camp and awaited the enemy. These proceedings were reported at Rome, and created greater excitement than the facts warranted, and the senate at once ordered a dictator to be nominated - the last resource in imminent danger.
It is stated that Julius and Cornelius were extremely angry at thus step, and matters proceeded amidst much bitterness on both sides. The leaders of the senate censured the consular tribunes for not recognising the authority of the senate, and finding their protests useless, actually appealed at last to the tribunes of the plebs and reminded them how on a similar occasion their authority had acted as a check on the consuls. The tribunes, delighted at the dissension amongst the senators, said that they could render no assistance to those in whose eyes they were not regarded as citizens or even as men. If the honours of the State were ever open to both orders, and they had their share in the government, then they would take measures to prevent the decisions of the senate from being nullified by the arrogance of any magistrate; till then the patricians, devoid as they were of any respect for magistrates or laws, might deal with the consular tribunes by themselves.