When the armies had been disbanded,1
and there was peace with other nations, and —thanks to the goodwill betwixt the orders —quietness at home, that the happiness of the citizens might not pass all bounds, a pestilence attacked them and the senate was compelled to order the ten commissioners2
to consult the Sibylline Books.
By their direction a lectisternium3
was held. In the same year a colony was sent out to Satricum by the Antiates, and that city, which had been destroyed by the Latins, was rebuilt.
Further, a treaty was entered into at Rome with envoys of the Carthaginians, who had come seeking friendship and an alliance.4
The same peaceful conditions continued at home and abroad during the consulship of Titus Manlius Torquatus and Gaius Plautius. But the rate of interest was reduced from one to one-half per cent.,5
and debts were made payable, one-fourth down and the remainder in three annual instalments; even so some of the plebeians were distressed, but the public credit was of greater concern to the senate than were the hardships of single persons. What did the most to lighten the burden was the omission of the war-tax and the levy.
In the second year after the rebuilding of Satricum by the Volsci, Marcus Valerius Corvus became consul for the second time, with Gaius Poetelius.
A report having come out of Latium that emissaries of the [p. 451]
Antiates were circulating amongst the Latin peoples6
with a view to stir up war, Valerius was ordered to deal with the Volsci before more enemies should arise, and marched to the attack of Satricum. There he was opposed by the Antiates and the other Volsci, with forces which they had levied in advance, in case any measures should be taken by the Romans; and both sides being actuated by inveterate hatred, the battle was joined without delay.
The Volsci, a race more spirited in beginning than in prosecuting war, were defeated in the struggle and fled in disorder to the walls of Satricum. Indeed, they put no great reliance even in their walls, for when the city had been encircled with troops and was on the point of being escaladed, they surrendered, being in number about four thousand soldiers, besides the unarmed populace.
The town was dismantled and burnt; only the temple of Mater Matuta7
was saved from the flames. All the booty was given to the soldiers. The four thousand who had surrendered were not reckoned a part of the spoils; these the consul sent in chains before his chariot when he triumphed, and they were subsequently sold, and brought in a great sum to the treasury.
Some think that this multitude of captives consisted of slaves, and this is more likely than that surrendered men were sold.