The Romans then returned to Sora; and1
new consuls, Marcus Poetelius and Gaius Sulpicius, [p. 255]
took over the army from Fabius the dictator, dismissing2
a great part of the veteran troops and bringing in new cohorts to replace them.3
but the city lay in a troublesome position, where the Romans could devise no very certain way of getting at it, and it seemed that victory would either be long in coming, or fraught with fearful risks;
when a Soran deserter stole out of the town, and picking his way to the Roman sentinels, bade them bring him immediately to the consuls. arrived in their presence, he offered to betray the city.
on being questioned how he could accomplish it, he satisfied his interrogators that his plan was not unfeasible, and induced them to withdraw the Roman camp —which was almost in contact with the city walls —to a distance of six miles from the town; for so, he said, the sentinels would be less vigilant in guarding the place, whether by night or day.
he himself on the following night, having directed certain cohorts to seek cover in the woods below the town, took with him ten picked men, whom he conducted over steep and almost impassable ground up to the citadel.4
here he had brought together a quantity of missiles out of all proportion to the number of men, besides which there were stones —both those which happened to be lying there, as is usual in rough country, and those which the townsmen had piled up on purpose, for the better protection of the place.
on this height he posted the Romans, and, indicating to them a steep and narrow path which led up from the town to the citadel, lie said, “from an ascent like this three men would be enough to keep back a multitude, however numerous: you are not [p. 257]
only ten, but Romans, and of Romans the very5
you will have the advantage of position and of night, which makes everything loom greater in the eyes of frightened men, because of the obscurity. as for me, I will presently strike terror into every heart: do you hold the citadel and watch.”
he then ran down, making all the noise he could, as he cried “to arms!” and “help, help, my countrymen! The citadel has been taken by the enemy! defend us!”
These words he shouted as he knocked at the doors of the great, the same to all he met, the same to those who rushed out terrified into the streets. The panic begun by one man was spread by numbers through all the city.
quaking with fear, the magistrates dispatched scouts to investigate, and on hearing that armed men, in exaggerated numbers, held the citadel, relinquished all hope of regaining it.
The city was thronged with fugitives, and men who were hardly yet awake and most of them unarmed, began battering down the gates. through one of them rushed in the band of Romans, who had started up on hearing the outcry, and now running through the streets, cut down the frightened townsfolk.
Sora was already taken, when the consuls arrived at early dawn, and received the surrender of such as Fortune had spared in the rout and slaughter of the night.
of these, two hundred and twenty —five, who were designated on all hands as the authors of the revolt and the hideous massacre of the colonists, they sent to Rome in chains; the rest they left unharmed in Sora, only setting a garrison over them.
all those who were taken to Rome were scourged and beheaded in the Forum, to the great joy of the commons, whom it most [p. 259]
nearly concerned that the people who were sent out6
here and there to colonies should in every case be protected.