It was determined that the levy should not be made out of the entire body of the people indiscriminately. Ten tribes were drawn by lot; the two tribunes enlisted the younger men out of these, and led them to the war.
The contentions which commenced between them in the city, were, through the same eager ambition for command, carried to a much greater height in the camp: on no one point did they think alike; they contended strenuously for their own opinion; they desired their own plans, their own commands only to be ratified;
they mutually despised each other, and were despised, until, on the remonstrances of the lieutenant-generals, it was at length so arranged, that they should hold the supreme command on alternate days.
When an account of these proceedings was brought to Rome, Quintus Servilius, taught by years [p. 303]
and experience, is said to have prayed to the immortal gods, that the discord of the tribunes might not prove more detrimental to the commonwealth than it had done at Veii: and, as if some certain disaster was impending over them, he pressed his son to enlist soldiers and prepare arms.
Nor was he a false prophet. For under the conduct of Lucius Sergius, whose day of command it was, being suddenly attacked by the Aequans on disadvantageous ground near the enemy's camp, after having been decoyed thither by the vain hope of taking it, because the enemy had counterfeited fear and betaken themselves to their rampart, they were beaten down a declivity, and great numbers were overpowered and slaughtered by their tumbling one over the other rather than by flight:
and the camp, retained with difficulty on that day, was, on the following day, deserted by a shameful flight through the opposite gate, the enemy having invested it in several directions.
The generals, lieutenant-generals, and such of the main body of the army as kept near the colours, made their way to Tusculum; others, dispersed in every direction through the fields, hastened to Rome by different roads, announcing a heavier loss than had been sustained.
There was less of consternation, because the result corresponded to the apprehensions of persons; and because the reinforcements, which they could look to in this distressing state of things, had been prepared by the military tribune:
and by his orders, after the disturbance in the city was quieted by the inferior magistrates, scouts were instantly despatched, and brought intelligence that the generals and the army were at Tusculum; that the enemy had not removed their camp.
And, what raised their spirits most, Quintus Servilius Priscus was created dictator in pursuance of a decree of the senate; a man whose judgment in public affairs the state had experienced as well on many previous occasions, as in the issue of that war, because he alone had expressed his apprehensions of the result of the disputes among the tribunes, before the occurrence of the misfortune;
he having appointed for his master of the horse, by whom, as military tribune, he had been nominated dictator, his own son, as some have stated, (for others mention that Ahala Servilius was master of the horse that year;)
and setting out to the war with his newly-raised army, after sending for those who were [p. 304]
at Tusculum, chose ground for his camp at the distance of two miles from the enemy.