In the following year the Papirii, Spurius and Lucius, new military tribunes, led the legions to Velitrae; their four colleagues in the tribuneship, Servius Cornelius Maluginensis a fourth time, Quintus Servilius, Servius Sulpicius, Lucius Aemilius a fourth time, being left behind to protect the city, and in case any new commotion should be announced from Etruria; for every thing was apprehended from that quarter.
At Velitrae they fought a successful battle against the auxiliaries of the Praenestines, who were almost greater than the [p. 419]
number of colonists themselves; so that the proximity of the city was both the cause of an earlier flight to the enemy, and was their only refuge after the flight.
The tribunes refrained from besieging the town, both because [the result] was uncertain, and they considered that the war should not be pushed to the total destruction of the colony. Letters were sent to Rome to the senate with news of the victory, expressive of more animosity against the Praenestine enemy than against those of Velitrae.
In consequence, by a decree of the senate and an order of the people, war was declared against the Praenestines: who, in conjunction with the Volscians, took, on the following year, Satricum, a colony of the Roman people, by storm, after an obstinate defence by the colonists, and made, with respect to the prisoners, a disgraceful use of their victory.
Incensed at this, the Romans elected Marcus Furius Camillus a seventh time military tribune. The colleagues conjoined with him were the two Postumii Regillenses, Aulus and Lucius, and Lucius Furius, with Lucius Lucretius and Marcus Fabius Ambustus.
The Volscian war was decreed to Marcus Furius out of the ordinary course, Lucius Furius is assigned by lot from among the tribunes his assistant; [which proved] not so advantageous to the public as a source of all manner of praise to his colleague: both on public grounds, because he restored the [Roman] interest which had been prostrated by his rash conduct; and on private grounds, because from his error he sought to obtain his gratitude rather than his own glory.
Camillus was now in the decline of life, and when prepared at the election to take the usual oath for the purpose of excusing himself on the plea of his health, he was opposed by the consent of the people: but his active mind was still vigorous within his ardent breast, and he enjoyed all his faculties entire, and now that he concerned himself but little in civil affairs, war still aroused him.
Having enlisted four legions of four thousand men each, and having ordered the troops to assemble the next day at the Esquiline gate, he set out to Satricum. There the conquerors of the colony, nowise dismayed, confiding in their number of men, in which they had considerably the advantage, awaited him.
When they perceived that the Romans were approaching, they marched out immediately to the field, determined to make no delay to put all to the risk of an engagement, that by proceeding thus they [p. 420]
should derive no advantage from the judgment of their distinguished commander, on which alone they confided.