From this time, whether it was from the favour of the gods being obtained, or that the more unhealthy season of the year was now passed,
the bodies of the people having shaken off disease, gradually began to be more healthy, and their attention being now directed to public concerns, when several interregna had expired, Publius Valerius Publicola, on the third day after he had entered on his office of interrex, causes Lucretius Tricipitinus, and Titus Veturius Geminus, (or Velusius,) to be elected consuls.
They enter on their consulship on the third day of the Ides of August, the state being now sufficiently strong, not only to repel a hostile attack, but even to act itself on the offensive.
Therefore when the Hernicians brought an account that the enemy had made an incursion into their frontiers, assistance was readily promised two consular armies were enlisted. Veturius was sent against the Volscians to carry on an offensive war.
Tricipitinus being appointed to protect the territory of the allies from devastation, proceeds no further than into the country of the Hernicians.
Veturius routs and puts to flight the enemy in the first en- [p. 168]
gagement. A party of plunderers which had marched over the Praenestine mountains, and from thence descended into the plains, escaped the notice of Lucretius, whilst he lay encamped amongst the Hernicians.
These laid waste all the country around Praeneste and Gabii: from the Gabinian territory they turn their course towards the heights of Tusculum; great alarm was excited in the city of Rome also, more from the suddenness of the affair, than that there was not sufficient strength to repel violence.
Quintus Fabius had the command in the city;1
he, by arming the young men and posting guards, rendered things secure and tranquil. The enemy therefore carrying off plunder from the adjacent places, not venturing to approach the city, when they were returning by a circuitous route, their caution being now more relaxed, in proportion as they removed to a greater distance from the enemy's city, fall in with the consul Lucretius, who had already explored their motions, drawn up in battle-array and determined on an engagement.
Accordingly having attacked them with predetermined resolution whilst struck with sudden panic, though considerably fewer in numbers, they rout and put to flight their numerous army, and having driven them into the deep valleys, when an egress from thence was not easy, they surround them.
There the Volscian nation was almost entirely cut off. In some histories I find that thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy fell in the field and in the pursuit, that one thousand two hundred and fifty were taken alive, that twenty-seven military standards were carried off; where, though there may have been some exaggeration in the number, there certainly was great slaughter.
The victorious consul having obtained immense booty returned to the same standing camp. Then the consuls join their camps. The Volscians and Aequans also unite their shattered strength. This was the third battle on that year; the same good fortune gave them victory; the enemy being beaten, their camp was also taken.