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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 3: War with Etruria.[389 BC]
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While these successes were occurring in the field of operations where Camillus was the life and soul of the Roman cause, in another direction a terrible danger was threatening. Nearly the whole of Etruria was in arms and was besieging Sutrium, a city in alliance with Rome. Their envoys approached the senate with a request for help in their desperate condition, and the senate passed a decree that the dictator should render assistance to the Sutrines as soon as he possibly could. Their hopes were deferred, and as the circumstances of the besieged were such as to admit of no longer delay -- their scanty numbers being worn out with toil, want of sleep, and fighting, which always fell upon the same persons -- they made a conditional surrender of their city. As the mournful procession set forth, leaving their hearths and homes, without arms and with only one garment apiece, Camillus and his army happened just at that moment to appear on the scene. The grief-stricken crowd flung themselves at his feet; the appeals of their leaders, wrung from them by dire necessity, were drowned by the weeping of the women and children who were being dragged along as companions in exile. Camillus bade the Sutrines spare their laments, it was to the Etruscans that he was bringing grief and tears. He then gave orders for the baggage to be deposited, and the Sutrines to remain where they were, and leaving a small detachment on guard ordered his men to follow him with only their arms. With his disencumbered army he marched to Sutrium, and found, as he expected, everything in disorder, as usual after a success, the gates open and unguarded, and the victorious enemy dispersed through the streets carrying plunder away from the houses. |
Sutrium was captured accordingly twice in the same day; the lately victorious Etruscans were everywhere massacred by their new enemies; no time was allowed them either to concentrate their strength or seize their weapons. As they tried each to make their way to the gates on the chance of escaping to the open country they found them closed; this was the first thing the dictator ordered to be done. Then some got possession of their arms, others who happened to be armed when the tumult surprised them called their comrades together to make a stand. The despair of the enemy would have led to a fierce struggle had not criers been despatched throughout the city to order all to lay down their arms and those without arms to be spared; none were to be injured unless found in arms. Those who had determined in their extremity to fight to the end, now that hopes of life were offered them threw away their arms in all directions, and, since Fortune had made this the safer course, gave themselves as unarmed men to the enemy. Owing to their great number, they were distributed in various places for safe keeping. Before nightfall the town was given back to the Sutrines uninjured and untouched by all the ruin of war, since it had not been taken by storm but surrendered on conditions.
Event: Second war with Etruria