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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 5: War in Etruria. The Etruscans defeated.[301-0 BC]
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When the message reached the dictator, he ordered the standards to go forward and the troops to follow. But everything was done almost more rapidly than the orders were given. The standards were instantly snatched up, and the troops were with difficulty prevented from charging the enemy at a run. They were burning to avenge their recent defeat, and the shouts, becoming continually louder in the battle that was already going on, made them still more excited. They kept urging each other on, and telling the standard-bearers to march more quickly, but the more haste the dictator saw them making the more determined was he to check the column and insist upon their marching deliberately. |
The Etruscans had been present in their full strength when the battle began. Message after message was sent to the dictator telling him that all the legions of the Etruscans were taking part in the fight and that his men could no longer hold out against them, whilst he himself from his higher ground saw for himself in what a critical position the outposts were. As however, he felt quite confident that their commander could still sustain the attack, and as he was himself near enough to save him from all danger of defeat, he decided to wait until the enemy became utterly fatigued, and then to attack him with fresh troops. Although his own men were advancing so slowly there was now only a moderate distance over which to charge, at all events for cavalry, between the two lines. The standards of the legions were in front, to prevent the enemy from suspecting any sudden or secret manoeuvre, but the dictator had left intervals in the ranks of infantry through which the cavalry could pass. The legions raised the battle-shout, and at the same moment the cavalry charged down upon the enemy, who were unprepared for such a hurricane, and a sudden panic set in. As the outposts, who had been all but cut off, were now relieved at the last moment, they were all allowed a respite from further exertions. The fresh troops took up the fighting, and the result did not long remain in doubt. The routed enemy sought their camp, and as they retreated before the Romans who were attacking it, they became crowded together in the furthest part. In trying to escape, they became blocked in the narrow gates, and a good many climbed on to the mound and stockade in the hope of defending themselves on higher ground, or possibly of crossing ramparts and fosse and so escaping. In one part the mound had been built up too loosely, and, owing to the weight of those standing on it, crumbled down into the fosse, and many, both soldiers and non-combatants, exclaiming that the gods had cleared the passage for their flight, made their escape that way.
In this battle the power of the Etruscans was broken up for the second time. After undertaking to provide a year's pay for the army and a two months' supply of corn, they obtained permission from the dictator to send envoys to Rome to sue for peace. A regular treaty of peace was refused, but they were granted a two years' truce. The dictator returned in triumphal procession to the City.
Some of my authorities aver that Etruria was pacified without any important battle being fought simply through the settlement of the troubles in Arretium and the restoration of the Cilnii to popular favour.
No sooner had Marcus Valerius laid down the dictatorship than he was elected consul. Some have thought that he was elected without having been a candidate and, therefore, in his absence, and that the election was conducted by an interrex. There is no question, however, that he held the consulship with Apuleius Pansa.
Event: Fourth war with Etruria