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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 39: Mutiny of Troops in Campania. Titus Quinctius.[342 BC]
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After settling the army in their summer-quarters, whilst all was quiet among the Samnites the consul [Note 1] began to purify it by getting rid of the mutinous spirits. Some were dismissed as having served their time; others were pronounced to be incapacitated through age or infirmity; others were sent home on furlough, at first separately, then selected cohorts were sent together, on the ground that they had passed the winter far from their homes and belongings. A large number were transferred to different places, ostensibly for the needs of the service. All these the other consul and the praetor detained in Rome on various imaginary pretexts. At first, unaware of the trick that was being played upon them, they were delighted to revisit their homes. They soon, however, found out that even those who were first sent away were not rejoining the colours and that hardly any were disbanded but those who had been in Campania, and amongst these mainly the leading agitators. At first they were surprised, and then they felt a well-grounded apprehension that their plans had leaked out. "Now," they said, "we shall have to suffer court-martial, informers will give evidence against us, we shall one after another be executed in secret; the reckless and ruthless tyranny of the consuls and senators will be let loose on us." |
One cohort, which was stationed not far from Antium, took up a position at Lantulae in a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea to intercept those whom the consul was sending home on the various pretexts mentioned above. They soon grew to a very numerous body, and nothing was wanting to give it the form of a regular army except a general. They moved on into the Alban district plundering as they went, and entrenched themselves in a camp under the hill of Alba Longa. After completing their entrenchments they spent the rest of the day in arguing about the choice of a leader, as they had not sufficient confidence in any one amongst themselves. But who could be invited from Rome? Which of the patricians or plebeians would expose himself to such peril, or to whom could the cause of an army maddened by injustice be safely committed? The next day found them still engaged in the discussion, when some of those who had been dispersed in the marauding expedition brought back the information that Titus Quinctius was cultivating a farm in the neighbourhood and had lost all interest in his City and the honourable distinctions he had won. This man belonged to a patrician house, and after achieving great reputation as a soldier, had his military career cut short by a wound which made him lame in one of his feet, and he betook himself to a rural life, far from the Forum and its party struggles. On hearing his name mentioned they recalled the man to mind, and hoping that all might turn out well they ordered an invitation to be sent to him. They hardly expected that he would come voluntarily, and prepared to intimidate him into compliance. The messengers accordingly entered his farmhouse in the dead of night and woke him up from a sound sleep, and after telling him that there was no alternative, it must either be authority and rank or, if he resisted, death, they carried him off to the camp. On his arrival he was saluted as their commander, and all dismayed as he was by the strangeness and suddenness of the affair, the insignia of his office were brought to him and he was peremptorily told to lead them to the City. Acting on their own impulse rather than their leader's advice they plucked up their standards and marched in hostile array as far as the eighth milestone on what is now the Appian Road. They would have gone on at once to the City had they not received word that an army was on its march, and that Marcus Valerius Corvus had been nominated dictator, with Lucius Aemilius Mamercus as his Master of the Horse, to act against them.
Note 1: consul = Gaius Marcius Rutilus
Event: Mutiny of Troops in Campania
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.
Via Appia:This famous road extended from Rome to Capua, a distance of about 120 miles, and was carried through deep cuttings, over the hills, and on vast substructures of stones through the valleys. It was subsequently extended to Brundisium.