The business in the city being settled, and the rights of the commons being firmly established, the consuls departed to their respective provinces. Valerius prudently deferred all warlike operations against the armies of the Aequans and the Volscians, which had now formed a junction at Algidum.
But if he had immediately committed the result to fortune, I know not but that, such were the feelings both of the Romans and of their enemies since the unfavourable auspices of the decemvirs, the contest would have stood them in a heavy loss.
Having pitched his camp at the distance of a mile from the enemy, he kept his men quiet. The enemy filled the space lying between the two camps with their army in order of battle, and not a single Roman made them any answer when they challenged them to battle.
At length, wearied from standing and from waiting in vain for a contest, the Aequans and Volscians, considering that the victory was in a manner conceded to them, go off, some to the Hernicians, some to the Latins, to commit depredations. There was left in the camp rather a garrison for its defence than sufficient force for a contest.
When the consul perceived this, he retorted the terror previously occasioned to his men, and drawing up his troops in order of battle, he now in his turn provokes the enemy to fight.
When they, from a feeling of the absence of their forces, declined battle, the courage of the Romans immediately increased, and they considered as vanquished those who stood panic-stricken within their rampart.
After having stood for the entire day prepared for the contest, they retired at night. And the Romans, now full of hope, set about refreshing themselves. The enemy, in by no means equal spirits, being now in trepidation, despatch messengers in every direction to call back the plundering parties.
Those in the nearest places return thence; those who were farther off were not found. [p. 233]
When the day dawned, the Romans leave the camp, determining on assaulting the rampart unless an opportunity of fighting were afforded; and when the day was now far advanced, and no movement was made by the enemy, the consul orders them to advance; and the troops being put in motion, the Aequans and the Volscians became indignant, that victorious armies were to be defended by a rampart rather than by valour and arms. Wherefore they also earnestly demanded the signal for battle from their generals, and received it.
And now half of them had got out of the gates, and the others in succession were observing order, marching down each to his own post, when the Roman consul, before the enemy's line could be drawn up, supported by their entire strength, advanced on them;
and having attacked them before they were all as yet led forth, and when those who were so had not their ranks sufficiently arranged, he falls on the unsteady crowd of them, running in trepidation from one place to another, and throwing around their eyes on themselves and on their friends, a shout and violent onset adding to the already confused state of their minds.
The enemy at first gave way; then, when they had rallied their spirits, and their generals on every side reprovingly asked them, whether they were about to yield to their vanquished foes, the battle was restored.