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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 70: War with Aequi and Volscians. The battle.[446 BC]
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In the Roman army the two consuls possessed equal authority. Agrippa, however, voluntarily resigned the supreme command to his colleague -- a very beneficial arrangement where matters of great importance are concerned -- and the latter, thus preferred by the ungrudging self-suppression of his colleague, courteously responded by imparting to him his plans, and treating him in every way as his equal. |
When drawn up in battle order, Quinctius commanded the right wing, Agrippa the left. The centre was assigned to Spurius Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general; the other lieutenant-general, Publius Sulpicius, was given charge of the cavalry. The infantry on the right wing fought splendidly, but met with stout resistance on the side of the Volscians. Publius Sulpicius with his cavalry broke the enemy's centre. He could have got back to the main body before the enemy reformed their broken ranks, but he decided to attack from the rear, and would have scattered the enemy in a moment, attacked as they were in front and rear, had not the cavalry of the Volscians and Aequi, adopting his own tactics, intercepted him and kept him for some time engaged. He shouted to his men that there was no time to lose, they would be surrounded and cut off from their main body if they did not do their utmost to make a finish of the cavalry fight; it was not enough simply to put them to flight, they must dispose of both horses and men, that none might return to the field or renew the fighting. They could not resist those before whom a serried line of infantry had given way.
His words did not fall on deaf ears. In one shock they routed the whole of the cavalry, hurled a vast number from their seats, and drove their lances into the horses. That was the end of the cavalry fight. Next they made a rear attack on the infantry, and when their line began to waver they sent a report to the consuls of what they had done. The news gave fresh courage to the Romans, who were now winning, and dismayed the retreating Aequi. Their defeat began in the centre, where the cavalry charge had thrown them into disorder. Then the repulse of the left wing by the consul Quinctius commenced. The right wing gave more trouble. Here Agrippa, whose age and strength made him fearless, seeing that things were going better in all parts of the field than with him, seized standards from the standard-bearers and advanced with them himself, some he even began to throw amongst the masses of the enemy. Roused at the fear and disgrace of losing them, his men made a fresh charge on the enemy, and in all directions the Romans were equally successful.
At this point a message came from Quinctius that he was victorious, and was now threatening the enemy's camp, but would not attack it till he knew that the action on the left wing was decided. If Agrippa had defeated the enemy he was to join him, so that the whole army might together take possession of the spoil. The victorious Agrippa, amidst mutual congratulations, proceeded to his colleague and the enemy's camp. The few defenders were routed in a moment and the entrenchment forced without any resistance. The army was marched back to camp after securing immense spoil and recovering their own property which had been lost in the ravaging of their lands.
I cannot find that a triumph was either demanded by the consuls or granted by the senate; nor is any reason recorded for this honour having been either not expected or not thought worth asking for. As far as I can conjecture after such an interval of time, the reason would appear to be that as a triumph was refused by the senate to the consuls Valerius and Horatius, who, apart from the Volscians and Aequi, had won the distinction of bringing the Sabine war to a close, the present consuls were ashamed to ask for a triumph for doing only half as much, lest, if they did obtain it, it might appear to be out of consideration for the men more than for their services.
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.
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.