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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 15: Victory on the Gauls.[357 BC]
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The Gauls directed their fiercest attack upon the Roman right, and the dictator's [Note 1] presence with that division alone prevented the attack from succeeding. When he saw the men wavering he called out sharply to Sextius and asked him if this was the way in which he had pledged his soldiers to fight. "Where," he cried, "are the shouts of the men who clamoured for arms? Where are their threats of going into battle without their commander's orders? Here is the commander, calling loudly to them to fight, and himself fighting in the forefront of the battle; who out of all those who were just now going to lead the way was following him? Braggarts in camp, cowards in battle!" They felt the truth of what they heard, and they were so stung by a sense of shame that they rushed on the enemy's weapons without any thought of danger. They charged like madmen and threw the enemy's lines into confusion, and a cavalry attack which followed turned the confusion into rout. As soon as the dictator saw their line broken in this part of the field he turned the attack on to their left, where he saw them closing up into a crowded mass, and at the same time gave the agreed signal to those on the mountain. When a fresh battle shout arose and these were seen crossing the mountain slope in the direction of the Gauls' camp, the enemy, afraid of being cut off, gave up the fight and ran in wild disorder to their camp. They were met by Marcus Valerius, the Master of the Horse, who after putting their right wing to flight was riding up to their lines, and he turned their flight towards the mountain and woods. A great many were intercepted by the muleteers whom they took for cavalry, and a terrible slaughter took place amongst those whom panic had driven into the woods after the main battle was over. |
No one since Camillus celebrated a more justly deserved triumph over the Gauls than Gaius Sulpicius. A large quantity of gold taken out of the spoil was dedicated by him and stored away in a vault beneath the Capitol.
The campaigns in which the consuls for the year were engaged ended in a very different way. Whilst the Hernici were defeated and reduced to submission by his colleague, [Note 2] Fabius showed a sad want of caution and skill in his operations against the Tarquinians . The humiliation which Rome incurred through his defeat was embittered by the barbarity of the enemy, who sacrificed 307 prisoners of war. That defeat was followed by a sudden predatory incursion of the Privernates and afterwards by one in which the Veliternians took part.
In this year two additional tribes were formed -- the Pomptine and the Publilian. The Games which Camillus had vowed when dictator were celebrated [Note 3]. A measure dealing with improper canvassing was for the first time submitted to the people, after passing the senate, by Gaius Poetilius, tribune of the plebs. It was intended to check the canvassing, mainly by rich plebeians, in the markets and promiscuous gatherings.
Note 1: dictator = Gaius Sulpicius
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Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.
Curia:Division of the Roman people for the Assembly, worship and military purposes.