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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 15: War with the Samnites. Capture of Luceria.[320-19 BC]
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The soldiers were dismissed to quarters, and a Council of war was held to decide whether they should press on the siege of Luceria with their whole force or whether Publilius with his army should visit the Apulians and ascertain their intentions, about which there was considerable doubt. The latter was decided upon, and the consul succeeded in reducing a considerable number of their towns in one campaign, whilst others were admitted into alliance. |
Papirius, who had remained behind to prosecute the siege of Luceria, soon found his expectations realised, for as all the roads by which supplies could be brought in were blocked, the Samnite garrison in Luceria was so reduced by famine that they sent to the Roman consul an offer to restore the hostages, for whose recovery the war had been undertaken, if he would raise the siege. He replied that they ought to have consulted Pontius, at whose instigation they had sent the Romans under the yoke, as to what terms he thought ought to he imposed on the vanquished. As, however, they preferred that equal terms should be fixed by the enemy rather than proposed by themselves, he told the negotiators to take back word to Luceria that all the arms, baggage and beasts of burden together with the non-combatant population were to be left behind; the soldiers he should send under the yoke and leave them one garment apiece. In doing this, he said, he was subjecting them to no novel disgrace but simply retaliating upon them one which they had themselves inflicted. They were compelled to accept these terms and 7000 men were sent under the yoke. An enormous amount of booty was found in Luceria, all the arms and standards which had been taken at Caudium, and what created the greatest joy of all -- they recovered the equites, the hostages whom the Samnites had placed there for security. Hardly any victory that Rome ever won was more noteworthy for the sudden change that it wrought in the circumstances of the republic, especially if, as I find stated in some annals, Pontius, the son of Herennius, the Samnite captain-general, was sent under the yoke with the rest, to expiate the disgrace he had inflicted on the consul. I am not, however, so much surprised that uncertainty should exist with regard to this point as I am that any doubt should be felt as to who really captured Luceria; whether, that is to say, it was Lucius Cornelius, acting as dictator, with Lucius Papirius Cursor as Master of the Horse, who achieved those successes at Caudium and afterwards at Luceria, and as the one man who avenged the stain on Roman honour celebrated what I am inclined to think was, with the exception of that of Furius Camillus, the most justly earned triumph that any down to that day had enjoyed, or whether the glory of that distinction should be attributed to the consuls and especially to Papirius. There is a further mistake here owing to doubts as to whether at the next consular elections Papirius Cursor was re-elected for the third time in consequence of his success at Luceria, together with Quintus Aulius Corretanus for the second time, or whether the name should really be Lucius Papirius Mugilanus.