Accordingly Kaeso Fabius, having been elected consul with T. Virginius not more with the zealous wishes of the senators than of the commons, attended neither to wars, nor levies, nor any other object, until the hope of concord being now in some measure commenced, the feelings of the commons might be consolidated with those of the senators as soon as possible.
Wherefore at the commencement of the year he proposed: “that before any tribune should stand forth as an abettor of the agrarian law, the patricians themselves should be beforehand with them in performing their duty; that they should distribute among the commons the land taken from the enemy in as equal a proportion as possible; that it was but just that those should obtain it, by whose blood and sweat [p. 138]
it was obtained.”
The patricians rejected the proposal with scorn; some even complained that the once brilliant talents of Kaeso were now becoming wanton, and were waning through excess of glory.
There were afterwards no factions in the city. The Latins were harassed by the incursions of the Aequi. Kaeso being sent thither with an army, passes into the very territory of the Aequi to depopulate it. The Aequi retired into the towns, and kept themselves within the walls: on that account no battle worth mentioning was fought.
But a blow was received from the Veientian foe through the temerity of the other consul; and the army would have been all cut off, had not Kaeso Fabius come to their assistance in time. From that time there was neither peace nor war with the Veientians; their proceedings had now come very near to the form of that of brigands.
They retired from the Roman troops into the city; when they perceived that the troops were drawn off, they made incursions into the country, alternately evading war by quiet, quiet by war. Thus the matter could neither be dropped altogether, nor brought to a conclusion; and other wars were impending either at the moment, as from the Aequi and Volsci, who remained inactive no longer than until the recent smart of their late disaster should pass away; or it was evident that the Sabines, ever hostile, and all Etruria would put themselves in motion:
but the Veientians, a constant rather than a formidable enemy, kept their minds in constant uneasiness by their insults more frequently than by any danger apprehended from them; a matter which could at no time be neglected, and which suffered them not to direct their attention to any other object.
Then the Fabian family addressed the senate; the consul speaks in the name of the family: “Conscript fathers, the Veientian war requires, as you know, a constant rather than a strong force. Do you attend to other wars: assign the Fabii as enemies to the Veientians.
We pledge ourselves that the majesty of the Roman name shall be safe in that quarter. That war, as the property of our family, it is our determination to conduct at our own private expense. Let the republic be spared the expense of soldiers and money there.”
The warmest thanks were returned to them. The consul, leaving the senate-house, accompanied by the Fabii in a body, who had been standing in the porch of the senate-house, returned home. Being ordered to attend [p. 139]
on the following day in arms at the consul's gate, they retire to their homes.