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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 20: Revolt and Recovery of Privernum and Fundi. Privernum[330-29 BC]
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Whilst Privernum was invested by two consular armies one of the consuls was recalled home to conduct the elections. It was in this year that the carceres were erected in the Circus Maximus. |
The trouble of the war with Privernum was not yet over when a most alarming report of a sudden approach of the Gauls reached the senate. Such reports were not often treated lightly. The new consuls, Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus and Gaius Plautius, were immediately ordered to arrange their respective commands on the very day they assumed office, namely July 1. The Gaulish war fell to Mamercinus, and he allowed none of those who were called up for service to claim exemption. It is even asserted that the mob of mechanics and artisans, a class utterly unfit for warfare, were called out. An immense army was concentrated at Veii to check the advance of the Gauls. It was thought better not to march any further in case the enemy took some other route to the City. After a thorough reconnaissance had been made, it was ascertained after a few days that all was quiet as far as the Gauls were concerned, and the whole force was thereupon marched to Privernum.
From this point there is a twofold story. Some state that the city was stormed and Vitrubius taken alive; other authorities aver that before the final assault the townsmen came out with a caduceus and surrendered to the consul, whilst Vitrubius was given up by his own men. The senate, when consulted as to the fate of Vitrubius and the Privernates, instructed the consul to demolish the walls of Privernum and station a strong garrison there, and then to celebrate his triumph. Vitrubius was to be kept in prison until the consul returned and then to be scourged and beheaded; his house on the Palatine was to be razed and his goods devoted to Semo Sancus. The money realised by their sale was melted down into brazen orbs which were deposited in the Chapel of Sancus opposite the temple of Quirinus. With regard to the senate of Privernum, it was decreed that every senator who had remained in that city after its revolt from Rome should be deported beyond the Tiber on the same conditions as those of Velitrae. After his triumph, when Vitrubius and his accomplices had been put to death, the consul thought that as the senate was satisfied with the punishment of the guilty, he might safely refer to the matter of the Privernates. He addressed the House in the following terms:
"Since the authors of the revolt, senators, have been visited by the immortal gods and by you with the punishment they deserved, what is your pleasure with regard to the innocent population? Although it is my duty to ask for opinions rather than to give them, I should like to say that in view of the fact that the Privernates are neighbours of the Samnites, with whom peaceful relations are now upon a most uncertain footing, I am anxious that as few grounds of complaint as possible should exist between us and them."