When Camillus returned home, signalized by much more solid glory than when white horses had drawn him through the city, having vanquished the enemy by justice and good faith, the senate did not conceal their sense of respect for him, but immediately set about acquitting him of his vow;
and Lucius Valerius, Lucius Sergius, Aulus Manlius, being sent in a ship of war as ambassadors to carry the golden bowl to Delphos as an offering to Apollo, were intercepted by the pirates of the Liparenses not far from the Sicilian Strait, and carried to Liparae. It was the custom of the state to make a division of all booty which was acquired, as it were, by public piracy.
On that year it so happened that one Timasitheus filled the office of chief magistrate, a man more like the Romans than his own countrymen.
Who, himself reverencing the name of ambassadors, and the offering, and the god to whom it was sent, and the cause of the offering, impressed the multitude also, who almost on all occasions resemble their ruler, with [a sense] of religious justice; and after having brought the ambassadors to a public entertainment, escorted them with the protection of some ships to Delphos, and from thence brought them back in safety to Rome.
By a decree of the senate a league of hospitality was formed with him, and presents were conferred on him by the state. During the same [p. 359]
year the war with the Aequans was conducted with varying success; so that it was a matter of doubt both among the troops themselves and at Rome, whether they had been victorious or were vanquished.
The Roman commanders were Caius Aemilius and Spurius Postumius, two of the military tribunes. At first they acted in conjunction; then, after the enemy were routed in the field, it was agreed that Aemilius should take possession of Verrugo with a certain force, and that Postumius should devastate the country.
There, as the latter proceeded rather negligently, and with his troops irregularly drawn up, he was attacked by the Aequans, and an alarm being occasioned, he was driven to the nearest hill; and the panic spread from thence to Verrugo to the other detachment of the army.
When Postumius, having withdrawn his men to a place of safety, summoned an assembly and upbraided them with their fright and flight; with having been beaten by a most cowardly and dastardly enemy; the entire army shout aloud that they deserved to hear all this, and admitted the disgrace they had incurred; but [they promised] that they would make amends, and that the enemy's joy should not be of long duration.
Demanding that he would instantly lead them from thence to the camp of the enemy, (this lay in the plain within their view,) they submitted to any punishment, if they did not take it before night.
Having praised them, he orders them to take refreshment, and to be in readiness at the fourth watch. And the enemy, in order to prevent the flight of the Romans from the hill through the road which led to Verrugo, were posted to meet them; and the battle commenced before daylight, (but the moon was up all the night,) and was not more confused than a battle fought by day.
But the shout having reached Verrugo, when they thought that the Roman camp was attacked, occasioned such a panic, that in spite of the entreaties of Aemilius and his efforts to stop them they fled to Tusculum in great disorder.
From thence a report was carried to Rome that “Postumius and his army were cut to pieces.” When the dawn of day had removed all apprehension of an ambuscade in case of a hasty pursuit, after riding through the ranks, by demanding [the performance of] their promises he infused such ardour into them, that the Aequans could no longer withstand their impetuosity.
Then the slaughter of them in their flight, such as takes place when matters are [p. 360]
conducted more under the influence of anger than of courage, was continued even to the total destruction of the enemy, and the melancholy news from Tusculum, the state having been alarmed without cause, was followed by a letter from Postumius decked with laurel, (announcing) that “the victory belonged to the Roman people; that the army of the Aequans was destroyed.”