Two wars were successfully prosecuted this1
year, and the Tarquinienses and Tiburtes were forced to make submission. From the latter their city of Sassula was taken, and the rest of their towns would have met with the same fortune, had the whole nation not laid down their arms and cast themselves upon the mercy of the consul.
A triumph was celebrated over them, but in all other respects the victory was used with clemency. The men of Tarquinii were shown no ruth; many were slain in the field of battle, and out of the vast number taken prisoners three hundred and fifty-eight were selected —the noblest of them all —to be sent to Rome, and the rest of the populace were put to the sword.
Neither were the People less stern towards those who had been sent to Rome, but scourged them all with rods in the middle of the Forum and struck off their heads. Such was the vengeance they exacted of their enemies for the Romans sacrificed [p. 421]
in the market-place of Tarquinii.2
Their success in3
war induced the Samnites also to apply for their friendship. The senate made a courteous answer to their ambassadors, and granted them a treaty of alliance.
The Roman commons were not so fortunate at home as in the field. For notwithstanding they had been relieved of usury by the adoption of a one per cent. rate, the very poor found even the principal sum a crushing burden, and were being bound over to their creditors. Hence it was that neither the incumbency of two patrician consuls, nor concern for the elections or affairs of state, could divert the thoughts of the plebeians from their personal distresses.
Accordingly both consulships continued in the hands of the patricians; Gaius Sulpicius Peticus was elected for the fourth time, and Marcus Valerius Publicola for the second.
While the citizens were occupied with thoughts of an Etruscan war —for it was rumoured that the people of Caere, out of compassion for their kinsmen of Tarquinii, had made common cause with them —came envoys from the Latins and turned their thoughts upon the Volsci, with a report that they had mustered and equipped an army, which was even then descending upon Latium, from whence it would invade and devastate the territory of the Romans.
The senate therefore resolved that neither threat must be neglected; and ordered that legions should be enrolled for both campaigns, and that the consuls should decide the commands by lot.
But the Etruscan war afterwards came to be their chief concern, on the receipt of a dispatch from the consul Sulpicius, who had received the assignment [p. 423]
to Tarquinii, with the news that the countryside4
lying near the Roman salt-works had been pillaged, and a part of the booty carried into the borders of the Caerites, whose soldiers had, without question, been amongst the depredators.
And so the senate recalled Valerius the consul, who was opposing the Volsci and had his camp close to the Tusculan frontier, and ordered him to nominate a dictator.
His choice fell upon Titus Manlius,5
the son of Lucius, who appointed as master of the horse Aulus Cornelius Cossus. Asking for no more than the consular army, the dictator, by the senate's authority, and at the bidding of the people, proclaimed war on the Caerites.