When the elections were over, the previous consuls received a six months' extension of their command and were ordered to prosecute the war in Samnium.
P. Decius, who had been left by his colleague in Samnium and was now proconsul, continued his ravages of the Samnite fields until he had driven their army, which nowhere ventured to encounter him, outside their frontiers. They made for Etruria, and were in hopes that the object which they had failed to secure by their numerous deputations might be achieved now that they had a strong force and could back up their appeals by intimidation.
They insisted upon a meeting of the Etruscan chiefs being convened.
When it had assembled they pointed out how for many years they had been fighting with the Romans, how they had tried in every possible way to sustain the weight of that war in their own strength, and how they had proved the assistance of their neighbours to be of small value.
They had sued for peace because they could no longer endure war, they had taken to war again because a peace which reduced them to slavery was heavier to bear than a war in which they could fight as free men. The only hope left to them now lay in the Etruscans.
They knew that they of all the nations of Italy were the richest in arms and men and money, and they had for their neighbours the Gauls, trained to arms from the cradle, naturally courageous to desperation and especially against the Romans, a nation whom they justly boast of having captured and then allowing them to ransom themselves with gold.
If the Etruscans had the same spirit which Porsena and their ancestors once had there was no reason why they should not expel the Romans from the whole of their land as far as the Tiber and compel them to fight, not for their insupportable dominion over Italy, but for their very existence.
The Samnite army had come to them completely provided with arms and a war chest, and were ready to follow them at once, even if they led them to an attack on Rome itself.