But the consuls had no proceeding on hand, by opposing which they could extort that which they desired; when by an extraordinary and favourable occurrence an account is brought that the Volscians and Aequans had proceeded beyond their frontiers into the Latin and Hernican territory to commit depredations.
For which war when the consuls commence to hold a levy in pursuance of a decree of the senate, the tribunes then strenuously opposed them, affirming that such a fortunate opportunity was presented to them and to the commons.
There were three, and all very active men, and of respectable families, considering they were plebeians. Two of them choose each a consul, to be watched by them with unremitting assiduity; to one is assigned the charge sometimes of restraining, sometimes of exciting, the commons by his harangues.
Neither the consuls effected the levy, nor the tribunes the election which they desired. Then fortune inclining to the cause of the people, expresses arrive that the Aequans had attacked the citadel of Carventa, the soldiers who were in garrison having straggled away in quest of plunder, and had put to death the few left to guard it; that others were slain as they were returning to the citadel, and others who were dispersed through the country.
This circumstance, prejudicial to the state, added force to the project of the tribunes. For, assailed by every argument to no purpose that they would then at length desist from obstructing the war when they yielded neither to the public storm, nor to the odium themselves, they succeed so far as to have a decree of he senate passed for the election of military tribunes;
with an express stipulation, however, that no candidate should be considered, who was tribune of the people that year, and that no one should be re-elected plebeian tribune for the year following; the senate undoubtedly pointing at the Icilians, whom they suspected of aiming at the consular tribuneship as the reward of their turbulent tribuneship of the commons.
Then the levy began to proceed, and preparations for war began to be made with the concurrence of all ranks.
The diversity of the state- [p. 314]
ments of writers leaves it uncertain whether both the consuls set out for the citadel of Carventa, or whether one remained behind to hold the elections; those facts in which they do not disagree are to be received as certain, that they retired from the citadel of Carventa, after having carried on the attack for a long time to no purpose: that Verrugo in the Volscian country was taken by the same army, and that great devastation had been made, and considerable booty captured both amongst the Aequans and in the Volscian territory.