spite of these defeats neither the Etruscans nor the Samnites remained quiet. After the consul had withdrawn his army the Perusians recommenced hostilities, a force of Samnites
descended into the country round Vescia and Formiae, plundering and harrying as they went, whilst another body invaded the district of Aesernum and the region round the Vulturnus.
Appius Claudius was sent against these with Decius' old army; Fabius, who had marched into Etruria, slew 4500 of the Perusians, and took 1740 prisoners, who were ransomed at 310 ases
per head; the rest of the booty was given to the soldiers.
The Samnites, one body of which was pursued by Appius Claudius, the other by L. Volumnius, effected a junction in the Stellate district and took up a position there.
A desperate battle was fought, the one army was furious against those who had so often taken up arms against them, the other felt that this was their last hope. The Samnites lost 16,300 killed and 2700 prisoners; on the side of the Romans 2700 fell.
As far as military operations went, the year was a prosperous one, but it was rendered an anxious one by a severe pestilence and by alarming portents.
In many places showers of earth were reported to have fallen, and a large number of men in the army under Appius Claudius were said to have been struck by lightning.
The Sacred Books were consulted in view of these occurrences.
During this year Q. Fabius Gurges, the consul's son, who was an aedile, brought some matrons to trial before the people on the charge of adultery. Out of their fines he obtained sufficient money to build the temple of Venus which stands near the Circus.
The Samnite wars are still with us, those wars which I have been occupied with through these last four books, and which have gone on continuously for six-and-forty years, in fact ever since the consuls, M. Valerius and A. Cornelius, carried the arms of Rome for the first time into Samnium.
It is unnecessary now to recount the numberless defeats which overtook both nations, and the toils which they endured through all those years, and yet these things were powerless to break down the resolution or crush the spirit of that people;
I will only allude to the events of the past year. During that period the Samnites, fighting sometimes alone, sometimes in conjunction with other nations, had been defeated by Roman armies under Roman generals on four several occasions, at Sentinum, amongst the Paeligni, at Tifernum, and in the Stellate plains;
they had lost the most brilliant general they ever possessed; they now saw their allies —Etruscans, Umbrians, Gauls —overtaken by the same fortune that they had suffered; they were unable any longer to stand either in their own strength or in that afforded by foreign arms.
And yet they would not abstain from war; so far were they from being weary of defending their liberty, even though unsuccessfully, that they would rather be worsted than give up trying for victory.
What sort of a man must he be who would find the long
story of those wars tedious, though he is only narrating or reading it, when they failed to wear out those who were actually engaged in them?