The dictator, though he perceived that a greater struggle was reserved for him at home than abroad; still, either because there was need of despatch for the war, or supposing that by a victory and a triumph he should add to the powers of the dictatorship itself, held a levee and proceeds into the Pomptine territory, where he had heard that the Volscians had appointed their army to assemble.
I doubt not but that, in addition to satiety, to persons reading of so many wars waged with the Volscians, this same circumstance will suggest itself, which often served as an occasion of surprise to me when perusing the writers who lived nearer to the times of these occurrences, from what source the Volscians and Aequans, so often vanquished, could have procured supplies of soldiers.
And as this has been unnoticed and passed over in silence by ancient writers; on which matter what can I state, except mere opinion, which every one may from his own conjecture form for himself?
It seems probable, either that they employed, as is now practised in the Roman levies, successive generations of their young men one after the other, during the intervals between the wars; or that the armies were not always recruited out of the same states, though the same nation may have made war;
or that there was an innumerable multitude of free-men in those places, which, at the present day, Roman slaves save from being a desert, a scanty seminary of soldiers being scarcely left.
Certain it is, (as is agreed upon among all authors,) although their power was very much impaired under the guidance and auspices of Camillus, the forces of the Volscians were strong: besides, the Latins and Hernicians had been added, and some of the Circeians, and some Roman colonists also from Velitrae.
The dictator, having pitched his camp on that day, and on coming forth on the day following after taking the auspices, and having, by sacrificing a victim, implored the favour of the gods, with joyful countenance presented himself to the soldiers, who were now taking arms at day-break, according to orders, on the signal for battle being displayed.
“Soldiers,” says he, “the victory is ours, if the gods and their prophets see aught into futurity. Accordingly, as it becomes men full of well-grounded hope, and who are about to engage with their inferiors, let us place our spears at our feet, and arm our right hands only with our swords. I would not even wish that any should push forward beyond the line; but that, standing firm, you receive the enemy's charge in a steady posture.
When they shall have discharged their ineffective missives, and, breaking their ranks, they shall rush on you as you stand firm, then let your swords glitter, and let each man recollect, that there are gods who aid the Roman; those gods, who have sent us into battle with favourable omens.
Do you, Titus Quinctius, keep back the cavalry, attentively observing the very commencement of the contest; as soon as you observe the armies closed foot to foot, then, whilst they are taken up with another panic, strike terror into them with your cavalry, and by making a charge on them, disperse the ranks of those engaged in the fight.”
The cavalry, the infantry conduct the fight, just as he had ordered them. Nor did either the general disappoint the legions, nor fortune the general.