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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 30: Renewed Fighting with the Volscians. The Manlii.[379 BC]
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When the election of consular tribunes took place, an equal number were elected from each order. The patricians were: Publius and Gaius Manlius, together with Lucius Julius; the plebeians were: Gaius Sextilius, Marcus Albinius, and Lucius Anstitius. As the two Manlii took precedence of the plebeians by birth and were more popular than Julius, they had the Volscians assigned to them by special resolution, without casting lots or any understanding with the other consular tribunes; a step which they themselves and the senate who made the arrangement had cause to regret. |
They sent out some cohorts to forage without previously reconnoitering. On receiving a false message that these were cut off, they started off in great haste to their support, without detaining the messenger, who was a hostile Latin and had passed himself off as a Roman soldier. Consequently, they fell straight into an ambuscade. It was only the sheer courage of the men that enabled them to make a stand on unfavourable ground and offer a desperate resistance. At the same time, their camp, which lay on the plain in another direction, was attacked. In both incidents the generals had imperiled everything by their rashness and ignorance; if by the good fortune of Rome anything was saved it was due to the steadiness and courage of the soldiers who had no one to direct operations.
On the report of these occurrences reaching Rome, it was at first decided that a dictator should be nominated, but on subsequent information being received that all was quiet amongst the Volscians, who evidently did not know how to make use of their victory, the armies were recalled from that quarter. On the side of the Volscians peace prevailed; the only trouble that marked the close of the year was the renewal of hostilities by the Praenestines, who had stirred up the Latin cantons.
The colonists of Setia complained of the fewness of their number, so a fresh body of colonists was sent to join them.
The misfortunes of the war were compensated by the quiet which prevailed at home owing to the influence and authority which the consular tribunes from the plebeians possessed with their party.
Event: Second war with Volscians