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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 36: War with Etruria. The Ciminian forest.[309 BC]
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The Ciminian forest was, in those days, more frightful and impassable than the German forests were recently found to be; not a single trader had, up to that time, ventured through it. Of those present in the Council of war, hardly any one but the general himself was bold enough to undertake to enter it; they had not yet forgotten the horrors of Caudium. According to one tradition, it appears that Marcus Fabius, the consul's brother -- others say Caeso, others again Lucius Claudius, the consul's half-brother -- declared that he would go and reconnoitre, and shortly return with accurate information. He had been brought up in Caere, and was thoroughly conversant with the Etruscan language and literature. There is authority for asserting that at that time Roman boys were, as a rule, instructed in Etruscan literature as they now are in Greek, but I think the probability is that there was something remarkable about the man who displayed such boldness in disguising himself and mingling with the enemy. He is said to have been accompanied by only one servant, and during their journey they only made brief inquiries as to the nature of the country and the names of its leading men, lest they should make some startling blunder in conversing with the natives and so be found out. They went disguised as shepherds, with their rustic weapons, each carrying two bills and two heavy javelins. But neither their familiarity with the language nor the fashion of their dress nor their implements afforded them so much protection as the impossibility of believing that any stranger would enter the Ciminian forest. It is stated that they penetrated as far as Camerinum in Umbria, and on their arrival there the Roman ventured to say who they were. He was introduced into the senate, and, acting in the consul's name, he established a treaty of friendship with them. After having been most kindly and hospitably received, he was requested to inform the Romans that thirty days' provision would be ready for them if they came into that district, and the Camertine soldiery would he prepared to act under their orders. |
When the consul received this report, he sent the baggage on in advance at the first watch. The legions were ordered to march behind the baggage, while he himself remained behind with the cavalry. The following day at dawn he rode up with his cavalry to the enemy's outposts stationed on the edge of the forest, and after he had engaged their attention for a considerable time, he returned to the camp and, in the evening, leaving by the rear gate, he started after the column. By dawn on the following day he was holding the nearest heights of the Ciminian range, and after surveying the rich fields of Etruria he sent out parties to forage. A very large quantity of plunder had already been secured when some cohorts of Etruscan peasantry, hastily got together by the authorities of the neighbourhood, sought to check the foragers; they were, however, so badly organised that, instead of rescuing the prey, they almost fell a prey themselves. After putting them to flight with heavy loss, the Romans ravaged the country far and wide, and returned to their camp loaded with plunder of every kind.
It happened to be during this raid that a deputation, consisting of five members of the senate with two tribunes of the plebs, came to warn Fabius, in the name of the senate, not to traverse the Ciminian forest. They were very glad to find that they had come too late to prevent the expedition, and returned to Rome to report victory.
Event: War with Etruria.
|Silua erat Ciminia magis tum inuia atque horrenda quam nuper fuere Germanici saltus, nulli ad eam diem ne mercatorum quidem adita. Eam intrare haud fere quisquam praeter ducem ipsum audebat; aliis omnibus cladis Caudinae nondum memoria aboleuerat. Tum ex iis qui aderant, consulis frateróM. Fabium, Caesonem alii, C. Claudium quidam matre eadem qua consulem genitum, traduntóspeculatum se iturum professus breuique omnia certa allaturum. Caere educatus apud hospites, Etruscis inde litteris eruditus erat linguamque Etruscam probe nouerat. Habeo auctores uolgo tum Romanos pueros, sicut nunc Graecis, ita Etruscis litteris erudiri solitos; sed propius est uero praecipuum aliquid fuisse in eo qui se tam audaci simulatione hostibus immiscuerit. Seruus ei dicitur comes unus fuisse, nutritus una eoque haud ignarus linguae eiusdem; nec quicquam aliud proficiscentes quam summatim regionis quae intranda erat naturam ac nomina principum in populis accepere, ne qua inter conloquia insigni nota haesitantes deprendi possent. Iere pastorali habitu, agrestibus telis, falcibus gaesisque binis armati. Sed neque commercium linguae nec uestis armorumue habitus sic eos texit quam quod abhorrebat ab fide quemquam externum Ciminios saltus intraturum. Vsque ad Camertes Vmbros penetrasse dicuntur; ibi qui essent fateri Romanum ausum; introductumque in senatum con sulis uerbis egisse de societate amicitiaque atque inde comi hospitio acceptum nuntiare Romanis iussum commeatum exercitui dierum triginta praesto fore, si ea loca intrasset, iuuentutemque Camertium Vmbrorum in armis paratam imperio futuram. Haec cum relata consuli essent, impedimentis prima uigilia praemissis, legionibus post impedimenta ire iussis ipse substitit cum equitatu et luce orta postero die obequitauit stationibus hostium, quae extra saltum dispositae erant; et cum satis diu tenuisset hostem, in castra sese recepit portaque altera egressus ante noctem agmen adsequitur. Postero die luce prima iuga Ciminii montis tenebat; inde contemplatus opulenta Etruriae arua milites emittit. Ingenti iam abacta praeda tumultuariae agrestium Etruscorum cohortes, repente a principibus regionis eius concitatae, Romanis occurrunt adeo incompositae ut uindices praedarum prope ipsi praedae fuerint. Caesis fugatisque his, late depopulato agro uictor Romanus opulentusque rerum omnium copia in castra rediit. Eo forte quinque legati cum duobus tribunis plebis uenerant denuntiatum Fabio senatus uerbis ne saltum Ciminium transiret. Laetati serius se quam ut impedire bellum possent uenisse, nuntii uictoriae Romam reuertuntur.|