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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 20: The Revolt of Fidenae. The death of Tolumnius[437 BC]
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Successful in all directions, the dictator [Note 1] returned home to enjoy the of a honour triumph granted him by decree of the senate and resolution of the people. By far the finest sight in the procession was Cossus bearing the spolia opima of the king he had slain. The soldiers sang rude songs in his honour and placed him on a level with Romulus. He solemnly dedicated the spoils to Jupiter Feretrius, and hung them in his temple near those of Romulus, which were the only ones which at that time were called spolia opima prima. All eyes were turned from the chariot of the dictator to him; he almost monopolised the honours of the day. By order of the people, a crown of gold, a pound in weight, was made at the public expense and placed by the dictator in the Capitol as an offering to Jupiter. |
In stating that Cossus placed the Spolia Opima secunda in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius when he was a military tribune I have followed all the existing authorities. But not only is the designation of spolia opima restricted to those which a commander-in-chief has taken from a commander-in-chief -- and we know of no commander-in-chief but the one under whose auspices the war is conducted -- but I and my authorities are also confuted by the actual inscription on the spoils, which states that Cossus took them when he was consul. Augustus Caesar, the founder and restorer of all the temples, rebuilt the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which had fallen to ruin through age, and I once heard him say that after entering it he read that inscription on the linen cuirass with his own eyes. After that I felt it would be almost a sacrilege to withhold from Cossus the evidence as to his spoils given by the Caesar who rstored that very temple. Whether the mistake, if there be one, may have arisen from the fact that the ancient annals, and the Linen Rolls -- the lists of magistrates preserved in the temple of Moneta which Macer Licinius frequently quotes as authorities -- have an Aulus Cornelius Cossus as consul with Titus Quinctius Poenus, ten years later - of this every man must judge for himself. For there is this further reason why so famous a battle could not be transferred to this later date, namely, that during the three years which preceded and followed the consulship of Cossus war was impossible owing to pestilence and famine, so that some of the annals, as though they were records of deaths, supply nothing but the names of the consuls. The third year after his consulship has the name of Cossus as a consular tribune, and in the same year he is entered as Master of the Horse, in which capacity he fought another brilliant cavalry action. Every one is at liberty to form his own conjecture; these doubtful points, in my belief, can be made to support any opinion. The fact remains that the man who fought the battle placed the newly-won spoils in the sacred shrine near Jupiter himself, to whom they were consecrated, and with Romulus in full view -- two witnesses to be dreaded by any forger -- and that he described himself in the inscription as "A. Cornelius Cossus, Consul." [Note 2].
Note 1: dictator = Mamercus
Event: The Revolt of Fidenae.
|Omnibus locis re bene gesta, dictator senatus consulto iussuque populi triumphans in urbem rediit. Longe maximum triumphi spectaculum fuit Cossus, spolia opima regis interfecti gerens; in eum milites carmina incondita aequantes eum Romulo canere. Spolia in aede Iouis Feretri prope Romuli spolia quae, prima opima appellata, sola ea tempestate erant, cum sollemni dedicatione dono fixit; auerteratque in se a curru dictatoris civium ora et celebritatis eius diei fructum prope solus tulerat. Dictator coronam auream, libram pondo, ex publica pecunia populi iussu in Capitolio Ioui donum posuit. Omnes ante me auctores secutus, A. Cornelium Cossum tribunum militum secunda spolia opima Iouis Feretri templo intulisse exposui; ceterum, praeterquam quod ea rite opima spolia habentur, quae dux duci detraxit nec ducem novimus nisi cuius auspicio bellum geritur, titulus ipse spoliis inscriptus illos meque arguit consulem ea Cossum cepisse. Hoc ego cum Augustum Caesarem, templorum omnium conditorem aut restitutorem, ingressum aedem Feretri Iouis quam vetustate dilapsam refecit, se ipsum in thorace linteo scriptum legisse audissem, prope sacrilegium ratus sum Cosso spoliorum suorum Caesarem, ipsius templi auctorem, subtrahere testem. Qui si ea in re sit error quod tam veteres annales quodque magistratuum libri, quos linteos in aede repositos Monetae Macer Licinius citat identidem auctores, septimo post demum anno cum T. Quinctio Poeno A. Cornelium Cossum consulem habeant, existimatio communis omnibus est. Nam etiam illud accedit, ne tam clara pugna in eum annum transferri posset, quod imbelle triennium ferme pestilentia inopiaque frugum circa A. Cornelium consulem fuit, adeo ut quidam annales velut funesti nihil praeter nomina consulum suggerant. Tertius ab consulatu Cossi annus tribunum eum militum consulari potestate habet, eodem anno magistrum equitum; quo in imperio alteram insignem edidit pugnam equestrem. Ea libera coniectura est. Sed, ut ego arbitror, uana versare in omnes opiniones licet, cum auctor pugnae, recentibus spoliis in sacra sede positis, Iovem prope ipsum, cui uota erant, Romulumque intuens, haud spernendos falsi tituli testes, se A. Cornelium Cossum consulem scripserit.|