nevertheless the brutality of the punishment made the soldiers more obedient to their general; and not only were guard —duties, watches, and the ordering of outposts, everywhere more carefully observed, but in the final struggle, as well, when the troops had gone down into battle, that stern act did much good.
now the battle was exceedingly like the battles in a civil war, so little [p. 31]
did the Latins differ from the Romans in anything1
The Romans had formerly used small round shields; then, after they began to serve for pay, they made oblong shields instead of round ones;
and what had before been a phalanx, like the Macedonian phalanxes, came afterwards to be a line of battle formed by maniples, with the rearmost troops drawn up in a number of companies.
The first line, or hastati,
comprised fifteen maniples, stationed a short distance apart; the maniple had twenty light —armed soldiers, the rest of their number carried oblong shields; moreover those were called “light —armed” who carried only a spear and javelins.
this front line in the battle contained the flower of the young men who were growing ripe for service. behind These came a line of the same number of maniples, made up of men of a more stalwart age; these were called the principes;
they carried oblong shields and were the most showily armed of all.
this body of thirty maniples they called antepilani,
because behind the standards there were again stationed other fifteen companies, each of which had three sections, the first section in every company being known as pilus.
The company consisted of three vexilla
or “banners”; a single vexillum
had sixty soldiers, two centurions, one vexillarius,
or colourbearer; the company numbered a hundred and eighty —six men. The first banner led the triarii,
veteran soldiers of proven valour; the second banner the rorarii,
younger and less distinguished men; the [p. 33]
third banner the accensi,
who were the least2
dependable, and were, for that reason, assigned to the rear most line.
when an army had been marshalled in this fashion, the hastati
were the first of all to engage. if the hastati
were unable to defeat the enemy, they retreated slowly and were received into the intervals between the companies of the principes.
then took up the fighting and the hastati
knelt beneath their banners, with the left leg advanced, having their shields leaning against their shoulders and their spears thrust into the ground and pointing obliquely upwards, as if their battle —line were fortified with a bristling palisade.
if the principes,
too, were unsuccessful in their fight, they fell back slowly from the battle —line on the friarii.
(From this arose the adage, “to have come to the triarii,
” when things are going badly.)
rising up after they had received the principes
into the intervals between their companies, would at once draw their companies together and close the lanes, as it were; then, with no more reserves behind to count on, they would charge the enemy in one compact array.
this was a thing exeedingly disheartening to the enemy, who, pursuing those whom they supposed they had conquered, all at once beheld a new line rising up, with augmented numbers.
there were customarily four legions raised of five thousand foot each, with three hundred horse to every legion.3
An equivalent contingent used to be added from [p. 35]
the levy of the Latins, who were now the enemies4
of the Romans and had drawn up their battle —line in the same formation; and they knew that not only must section meet in battle with section, hastati
with hastati, principes
but even —if the companies were not disordered —centurion with centurion.
in either army the prinus plus,
or chief centurion, was with the triarii.
The Roman was far from strong in body, but was an energetic man and an experienced soldier; the Latin was a man of might and a first —rate
warrior; they were well acquainted with each other, because they had always commanded companies of equal rank.
The Roman, putting no confidence in his strength, had obtained permission from the consuls before leaving Rome to choose whom he liked for his deputy —centurion, to defend him from the one man marked out for his opponent. this youth, encountering the Latin centurion in the battle, won the victory over him.
The engagement came off not far from the foot of Mount Vesuvius, where the road led to Veseris.5