The report of the unsuccessful battle and of the abandonment of the camp had already reached there; and, above all other objects, the horsemen were mourned not more with private than with public grief;
and the consul Fabius, the city also being now alarmed, stationed guards before the gates; when the horsemen, seen at a distance, not without so e degree of terror by those who doubted who they were, but soon being recognised, from a state of dread produced such joy, that a shout pervaded the city, of persons congratulating each other on the horsemen having returned safe and victorious;
and from the houses a little before in mourning, as they had given up their friends for lost, persons were seen running into the street; and the affrighted mothers and wives, forgetful of all ceremony through joy, ran out to meet the band, each one rushing up to her own friends, and through extravagance of delight scarcely retaining power over body or mind.
The tribunes of the people who had appointed a day of trial for Marcus Postumius and Titus Quintius, because of the unsuccessful battle fought near Veii by their means, thought that an opportunity now presented itself for renewing the public odium against them by reason of the recent displeasure felt against the consul Sempronius.
Accordingly, a meeting being convened, when they exclaimed aloud that the commonwealth had been betrayed at Veii by the generals, that the army was afterwards betrayed by the consul in the country of the Volscians, because they had escaped with impunity, that the very brave horsemen were consigned to slaughter, that the camp was shamefully deserted;
Caius Julius, one of the tribunes, ordered the horseman Tempanius to be cited, and in presence of them he says, “Sextus Tempanius, I ask of you, whether do you think that Caius Sempronius the consul either commenced the battle at the proper time, or strengthened his line with reserves, or that he discharged any duty of a good consul?
or did you yourself, when the Roman legions were beaten, of your own judgment dismount the cavalry and re- [p. 296]
store the fight? then when you and the horsemen with you were cut off from our army, did either the consul himself come to your relief, or did he send you succour?
Then again, on the following day, had you any assistance any where? or did you and your cohort by your own bravery make your way into your camp? Did you find a consul or an army in the camp, or did you find the camp forsaken, the wounded soldiers left behind?
These things are to be declared by you this day, as becomes your valour and honour, by which alone the republic has stood its ground on this day. In a word, where is Caius Sempronius, where are our legions? Have you been deserted, or have you deserted the consul and the army? In a word, have we been defeated, or have we gained the victory?”