Quintus Fabius and C. Julius were then made consuls. During this year the dissension at home was not abated, and the war abroad was more desperate. Arms were taken up by the Aequans; the Veientes also entered the territory of the Romans committing devastations; the solicitude about which wars increasing, Kaeso Fabius and Sp. Fusius are created consuls. The Aequi were laying siege to Ortona, a Latin city.
The Veientes, now satiated with plunder, threatened that they would besiege Rome itself.
Which terrors, when they ought to assuage, increased still further the bad feelings of the commons: and the custom of declining the military service was now returning, not of their own accord; but Sp. Licinius, a tribune of the people, thinking that the time was come for forcing the agrarian law on the patricians by extreme necessity, had taken on him the task of obstructing the military preparations.
But all the odium of the tribunitian power was turned on the author; nor did the consuls rise up against him [p. 131]
more zealously than his own colleagues; and by their assistance the consuls hold the levy.
An army is raised for the two wars at the same time; one is given to Fabius to be led against the Aequi, the other to Furius against the Veientians. And with respect to the Veientians, nothing was done worthy of mention.
Fabius had much more trouble with his countrymen than with the enemy: that one man himself, as consul, sustained the commonwealth, which the army was betraying, as far as in them lay, through their hatred of the consul.
For when the consul, in addition to his other military talents, which he exhibited amply in his preparations for and conduct of war, had so drawn up his line that he routed the enemy's army solely by a charge of his cavalry, the infantry refused to pursue them when routed:
and though the exhortation of their general, whom they hated, could not move them, neither could even their own infamy, and the present public disgrace and subsequent danger, if the enemy should recover courage, oblige them to quicken their pace, or even to stand in order of battle, if nothing else.
Without orders they face about, and with a sorrowful air (you would suppose them beaten) they return to the camp, execrating at one time their general, at another time the services rendered by the cavalry.
Nor were any remedies sought by the general for this so pestilent an example; so true is it that the most distinguished talents are more likely to be deficient in the tact of managing their countrymen than in that of conquering an enemy.
The consul returned to Rome, not having so much increased his military glory as irritated and exasperated the hatred of his soldiers towards him. The patricians, however, succeeded in having the consulship remain in the Fabian family. They elect M. Fabius consul: Cn. Manlius is assigned as a colleague to Fabius.