In the mean time it was determined that the military tribunes should lead an army into the Volscian territory.
Cneius Cornelius alone was left at Rome. The three tribunes, when it became evident that the Volscians had not established a camp any where, and that they would not venture an engagement, separated into three different parties to lay waste the country.
Valerius makes for Antium, Cornelius for Ecetrae. Wherever they came, they committed extensive devastations on the houses and lands, so as to separate the Volscians: Fabius, without committing any devastation, proceeded to attack Auxur, which was a principal object in view.
Auxur is the town now called Tarracinae; a city built on a declivity leading to a morass: Fabius made a feint of attacking it on that side.
When four cohorts sent round under Caius Servilius Ahala took possession of a hill which commanded the city, they attacked the walls with a loud shout and tumult, from the higher ground where there was no guard of defence.
Those who were defending the lower parts of the city against Fabius, astounded at this tumult, afforded him an opportunity of applying the scaling ladders, and every place soon became filled with the enemy, and a dreadful slaughter continued for a long time, indiscriminately of those who fled and those who resisted, of the armed or unarmed.
The vanquished were therefore obliged to fight, there being no hope for those who gave way, when a pro- [p. 319]
clamation suddenly issued, that no persons except those with arms in their hands should be injured, induced all the remaining multitude voluntarily to lay down their arms; of whom two thousand five hundred are taken alive.
Fabius kept his soldiers from the spoil, until his colleagues should come;
affirming that Auxur had been taken by these armies also, who had diverted the other Volscian troops from the defence of that place.
When they came, the three armies plundered the town, which was enriched with wealth of many years' accumulation; and this generosity of the commanders first reconciled the commons to the patricians.
It was afterwards added, by a liberality towards the people on the part of the leading men the most seasonable ever shown, that before any mention should be made of it by the commons or tribunes, the senate should decree that the soldiers should receive pay out of the public treasury, whereas up to that period every one had discharged that duty at his own expense.