|Do not fly Iberia
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 51: The Etruscans threaten Rome.[477-6 BC]
Return to index
When this disaster occurred, Gaius Horatius and Titus Menenius were consuls. Menenius was at once sent against the Tuscans, flushed with their recent victory. Another unsuccessful action was fought, and the enemy took possession of the Janiculum. The City, which was suffering from scarcity as well as from the war, would have been invested -- for the Etruscans had crossed the Tiber -- had not the consul Horatius been recalled from the Volsci. The fighting approached so near the walls that the first battle, an indecisive one, took place near the temple of Spes, and the second at the Colline gate. In the latter, although the Romans gained only a slight advantage, the soldiers recovered something of their old courage and were better prepared for future campaigns.
The next consuls were Aulus Verginius and Spurius Servilius. After their defeat in the last battle, the Veientines declined an engagement. There were forays. From the Janiculum as from a citadel they made raids in all directions on the Roman territory; nowhere were the cattle or the country-folk safe. They were ultimately caught by the same stratagem by which they had caught the Fabii. Some cattle were purposely driven in different directions as a decoy; they followed them and fell into an ambuscade; and as their numbers were greater, the slaughter was greater. Their rage at this defeat was the cause and commencement of a more serious one. They crossed the Tiber by night and marched up to an attack on Servilius' camp, but were routed with great loss, and with great difficulty reached the Janiculum. The consul himself forthwith crossed the Tiber and entrenched himself at the foot of the Janiculum. The confidence inspired by his victory of the previous day, but still more the scarcity of corn, made him decide upon an immediate but precipitate move. He led his army at daybreak up the side of the Janiculum to the enemies' camp; but he met with a more disastrous repulse than the one he had inflicted the day before. It was only by the intervention of his colleague that he and his army were saved. The Etruscans caught between the two armies, and retreating from each alternately were annihilated. So the Veientine war was brought to a sudden close by an act of happy rashness.
Event: War of Rome with Veii