The following year, on which Publius Cornelius Cossus, Caius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Quintius Cincinnatus, Numerius Fabius Vibulanus were military tribunes with consular power, would have brought with it two continual wars, had not the Veientian campaign been deferred by the religious scruples of the
leaders, whose lands were destroyed, chiefly by the ruin of the country-seats, in consequence of the Tiber having overflowed its banks.
At the same time the loss sustained three years before prevented the Aequans from affording assistance to the Bolani, a state belonging to their own nation.
Excursions had been made from thence on the contiguous territory of Lavici, and hostilities were committed on the new colony.
As they had expected to be able to defend this act of aggression by the concurrent support of all the Aequans, when deserted by their friends they lost both their town and lands, after a war not even worth mentioning, through a siege and one slight battle.
An attempt made by Lucius Sextius, tribune of the people, to move a law by which colonists might be sent to Bole also, in like manner as to Lavici, was defeated by the protests of his colleagues, who declared openly that they would suffer no order of the commons to be passed, unless with the approbation of the senate.
On the following year the Aequans, having recovered Bolae, [p. 307]
and sent a colony thither, strengthened the town with additional fortifications, the military tribunes with consular power at Rome being Cneius Cornelius Cossus, Lucius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus a second time, Marcus Postumius Regillensis.
The war against the Aequans was intrusted to the latter, a man of depraved mind, which victory manifested more effectually than war.
For having with great activity levied an army and marched it to Bolae, after breaking down the spirits of the Aequans in slight engagements, he at length forced his way into the town. He then turned the contest from the enemy to his countrymen; and when during the assault he had proclaimed, that the plunder should belong to the soldiers, after the town was taken he broke his word.
I am more inclined to believe that this was the cause of the displeasure of the army, than that in a city lately sacked and in a colony still young there was less booty found than the tribune had represented.
An expression of his heard in the assembly, which was very silly and almost insane, after he returned into the city on being sent for on account of some tribunitian disturbances, increased this bad feeling; on Sextus, a tribune of the commons, proposing an agrarian law, and at the same time declaring that he would also propose that colonists should be sent to Bole; for that those who had taken them by their arms were deserving that the city and lands of Bolae should belong to them, he exclaimed, “Woe to my soldiers, if they are not quiet;” which words, when heard, gave not greater offence to the assembly, than they did soon after to the patricians.
And the plebeian tribune being a sharp man and by no means devoid of eloquence, having found among his adversaries this haughty temper and unbridled tongue, which by irritating and exciting he could urge into such expressions as might prove a source of odium not only to himself, but to his cause and to the entire
body, he strove to draw Postumius into discussion more frequently than any of the college of military tribunes.
Then indeed, after so brutal and inhuman an expression, “Romans,” says he, “do ye hear him threatening woe to his soldiers as to slaves? Yet this brute will appear to you more deserving of so high an honour than those who send you into colonies, after having granted to you cities and lands; who provide a settlement for your old age, who fight against such cruel and arrogant adversaries in defence [p. 308]
of your interests.
Begin then to wonder why few persons now undertake your cause. What are they to expect from you?
is it honours which you give to your adversaries rather than to the champions of the Roman people. You felt indignant just now, on hearing an expression of this man? What matters that, if you will prefer this man who threatens woe to you, to those who are desirous to secure for you lands, settlements, and property?”