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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 43: Subjugation of the Hernicans and Aequi -- Peace with the Samnites[306 BC]
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Now that Fabius had evacuated the country the Samnites became restless. Calatia and Sora and the Roman garrisons there were taken by storm, and the soldiers who had been taken prisoners were cruelly massacred. Publius Cornelius was despatched thither with an army. The war with the Anagnians and Hernicans had been assigned to Marcius. At first the enemy occupied such a well-chosen position between the camps of the two consul that no messenger, however active, could get through, and for some days both consuls were kept in ignorance of everything and in anxious suspense as to each other's movements. Tidings of this alarming state of things reached Rome, and every man liable to service was called out; two complete armies were raised against sudden emergencies. But the progress of the war did not justify this extreme alarm, nor was it worthy of the old reputation which the Hernicans enjoyed. They attempted nothing worth mentioning, within a few days they were stripped of three camps in succession, and begged for a thirty days' armistice to allow of their sending envoys to Rome. To obtain this they consented to supply the troops with six months' pay and one tunic per man. The envoys were referred by the senate to Marcius, to whom they had given full powers to treat, and he received the formal surrender of the Hernicans. |
The other consul in Samnium, though superior in strength, was more hampered in his movements. The enemy had blocked all the roads and secured the passes so that no supplies could be brought in, and though the consul drew up his line and offered battle each day he failed to allure the enemy into an engagement. It was quite clear that the Samnites would not risk an immediate conflict, and that the Romans could not stand a prolonged campaign. The arrival of Marcius, who after subjugating the Hernicans had hurried to the assistance of his colleague, made it impossible for the enemy to delay matters any longer. They had not felt themselves strong enough to meet even one army in the open field, and they knew that their position would be perfectly hopeless if the two consular armies formed a junction; they decided, therefore, to attack Marcius while he was on the march before he had time to deploy his men. The soldiers' kits were hurriedly thrown together in the centre, and the fighting line was formed as well as the time allowed. The noise of the battle-shout rolling across and then the sight of the cloud of dust in the distance created great excitement in the standing camp of Cornelius. He at once ordered the men to arm for battle, and led them hurriedly out of the camp into line. It would, he exclaimed, be a scandalous disgrace if they allowed the other army to win a victory which both ought to share, and failed to maintain their claim to the glory of a war which was especially their own. He then made a flank attack, and breaking through the enemy's centre pushed on to their camp, which was denuded of defenders, and burnt it As soon as Marcius' troops caught sight of the flames, and the enemy looking behind them saw them too, the Samnites took to flight in all directions, but no place afforded them a safe refuge, death awaited them everywhere.
After 30,000 of the enemy had been killed the consuls gave the signal to retire. They were recalling and collecting the troops together amidst mutual congratulations when suddenly fresh cohorts of the enemy were seen in the distance, consisting of recruits who had been sent up as reinforcements. This renewed the carnage, for, without any orders from the consuls or any signal given, the victorious Romans attacked them, exclaiming as they charged that the Samnite recruits would have to pay dearly for their training. The consuls did not check the ardour of their men, for they knew well that raw soldiers would not even attempt to fight when the veterans around them were in disorderly flight. Nor were they mistaken; all the Samnite forces, veterans and recruits alike, fled to the nearest mountains. The Romans went up after them, no place afforded safety to the beaten foe, they were routed from the heights they had occupied, and at last with one voice they all begged for peace. They were ordered to supply corn for three months, a year's pay, and a tunic for each soldier, and envoys were despatched to the senate to obtain terms of peace.
Cornelius was left in Samnium; Marcius entered the City in triumphal procession alter his subjugation of the Hernicans. An equestrian statue was decreed to him which was erected in the Forum in front of the Temple of Castor (1). Three of the Hernican communities -- Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum -- had their municipal independence restored to them as they preferred that to the Roman franchise, and the right of intermarriage with each other was granted them, a privilege which for a considerable period they were the only communities amongst the Hernicans to enjoy. The Anagnians and the others who had taken up arms against Rome were admitted to the status of citizenship without the franchise, they were deprived of their municipal self-government and the right of intermarriage with each other, and their magistrates were forbidden to exercise any functions except those connected with religion.
In this year the censor Gaius Junius Bubulcus signed a contract for the building of the temple to Salus which he had vowed when engaged as consul in the Samnite war. He and his colleague, Marcus Valerius Maximus, also undertook the construction of roads through the country districts out of the public funds.
(1): The temple of Castor and Pollux was built on the very spot on which the two brothers had been miraculously seen watering their horses at the spring of Juturna to announce the great victory at Lake Regillus.