the election of consular tribunes the patricians succeeded by the utmost exertions in securing the return of M. Furius Camillus. They pretended that in view of the wars they were providing themselves with a general; their real object was to get a man who would oppose the corrupt policy of the plebeian tribunes.
His comrades in the tribuneship were L. Furius Medullinus —for the sixth time —C. Aemilius, L. Valerius Publicola, S. Postumius, and P. Cornelius —
for the second time.
At the beginning of the year the tribunes of the plebs made no move until Camillus left for operations against the Faliscans, the theatre of war assigned to him. This delay took the heart out of their agitation, whilst Camillus, the adversary whom they most dreaded, was gaining fresh glory amongst the Faliscans.
At first the enemy kept within their walls, thinking this the safest course, but by devastating their fields and burning their farms he compelled them to come outside their city.
They were afraid to go very far, and fixed their camp about a mile away; the only thing which gave them any sense of security was the difficulty of approaching it, as all the country round was rough and broken, and the roads narrow in some parts, in others steep. Camillus, however, had gained information from a prisoner captured in the neighbourhood, and made him act as guide.
After breaking up his camp in the dead of night, he showed himself at daybreak in a position considerably higher than the enemy. The Romans of the third line2
began to entrench, the rest of the army stood ready for battle.
When the enemy attempted to hinder the work of entrenchment, he defeated them and put them to flight, and such a panic seized the Faliscans that in their disorderly flight they were carried past their own camp, which was nearer to them, and made for their city.
Many were killed and wounded before they could get inside their gates. The camp was taken, the booty sold, and the proceeds paid over to the quaestors, to the intense indignation of the soldiers, but they were overawed by the sternness of their general's discipline, and though they hated his firmness, at the same time they admired it.
The city was now invested and regular siege-works were constructed. For some time the townsmen used to attack the Roman outposts whenever they saw an opportunity, and frequent skirmishes took place. Time went on and hope inclined to neither side; corn and other supplies had been previously collected, and the besieged were better provisioned than the besiegers.
The task seemed likely to be as long as it had been at Veii, had not fortune given the Roman commander an opportunity of displaying that greatness of mind which had already been proved in deeds of war, and so secured him an early victory.