The debtors had been given a little time1
for breathing, but no sooner did hostilities cease than the courts began once more to be alive with prosecutions, and not only was there no prospect of obtaining relief from the old debts, but further debts were incurred through the levying of a tax to build a wall of hewn stone,2
which the censors had contracted for.
To this burden the plebs were forced to submit, in the absence of any levy which their tribunes could obstruct.
The nobles even possessed sufficient influence to oblige the plebs to elect all patricians to the millitary tribunate; these were Lucius Aemilius, Publius Valerius (for the fourth time), Gaius Veturius Servius Sulpicius, Lucius and Gaius Quinctius Cincinnatus.
The same influence enabled them to carry through their plans against the Latins and the Volsci, who had united their forces and were encamped near Satricum.
No one objected when the men of military age were all compelled to take the oath, and three armies were enrolled: one was intended to defend the City; another was for use in sudden expeditions, if a revolt should break out anywhere; a third —much the strongest —marched to Satricum, under Publius Valerius and Lucius Aemilius.
There they found the [p. 307]
enemy drawn up in a strong position, and at once3
and though victory was not yet assured, yet the battle was in a hopeful state, when great gusts of wind brought on a heavy downpour of rain and interrupted it.
Next day the combat was renewed, and for some little time the enemy —particularly the Latin legions, schooled in Roman discipline by their long alliance —resisted with equal courage and success. But the cavalry were sent against them and threw their ranks into confusion, and before they could recover, the infantry were upon them;
in proportion as the Roman line advanced, was the enemy forced out of his position; and when once the tide of battle turned, there was no stopping the onrush of the Romans.
The routed enemy made for Satricum, two miles away, instead of their camp, and suffered great slaughter, especially at the hands of the cavalry. Their camp was taken and sacked. The night after the battle they fled rather than marched towards Antium; and though the Roman army followed hard after, fear proved swifter than wrath.
So the enemy got within the walls before the Romans could harass or delay their rear. A few days were then consumed in ravaging the land, since the Romans had not enough equipment to attack the walls, nor the enemy to risk a battle.