The same ardour existed also in the Roman army; nor did any thing, but the wisdom and authority of one man, delay the fortune of the present engagement, who sought, by protracting the war, an opportunity of aiding their strength by skill.
The enemy urged them the more on that account, and now not only did they draw out their troops in order of battle before their camp, but advanced into the middle of the plain, and by throwing up trenches near the battalions of the enemy, made a show of their insolent confidence in their strength.
The Roman soldier was indignant at this; the other military tribune, Lucius Furius, still more so, who, encouraged both by his youth and his natural disposition, was still further elated by the hopes entertained by the multitude, who assumed great spirits on grounds the most uncertain.
The soldiers, already excited of themselves, he still further instigated by disparaging the authority of his colleague by reference to his age, the only point on which he could do so: saying constantly, “that wars were the province of young men, and that with the body the mind also flourishes and withers;
that from having been a most vigorous warrior he was become a drone; and that he who, on coming up, had been wont to carry off camps and cities at the first onset, now consumed the time inactive within the trenches.
What accession to his own strength, or diminution of that of the enemy, did he hope for?
What opportunity, what season, what place for practising stratagem? that the old man's plans were frigid and languid. Camillus had both sufficient share of life as well as of glory. What use was it to suffer the strength of a state which ought to be immortal, to sink into old age along with one mortal body.”
By such observations, he had attracted to himself the attention of the entire camp; and when in every quarter battle was called for, “We cannot,” he says, “Marcus Furius, withstand the violence of the soldiers; and the enemy, whose spirits we have increased by delaying, insults us by insolence by no means to be borne. Do you, who are but one man, yield to all, and suffer yourself to be overcome in counsel, that you may the sooner overcome in battle.”
To this Camillus replies, that “whatever wars had been waged up to that day under his single auspices, in [p. 421]
these that neither himself nor the Roman people had been dissatisfied either with his judgment or with his fortune; now he knew that he had a colleague, his equal in command and in authority, in vigour of age superior;
with respect to the army, that he had been accustomed to rule, not to be ruled; with his colleague's authority he could not interfere. That he might do, with the favour of the gods, whatever he might deem to be to the interest of the state.
That he would even solicit for his years the indulgence, that he might not be placed in the front line; that whatever duties in war an old man could discharge, in these he would not be deficient; that he prayed to the immortal gods, that no mischance might prove his plan to be the more advisable.”
Neither his salutary advice was listened to by men, nor such pious prayers by the gods. The adviser of the battle draws up the front line; Camillus forms the reserve, and posts a strong guard before the camp; he himself took his station on an elevated place as a spectator, anxiously watching the result of the other's plan.