An election was then held of military tribunes with consular power; in which the number of patricians and plebeians was equal.
From the patricians were elected Publius and Caius Manlius, with Lucius Julius; the commons gave Caius Sextilius, Marcus Albinius, and Lucius Antistius.
To the Manlii, because they had the advantage of the plebeians in family station, and of Julius in interest, the province of the Volscians was assigned out of the ordinary course, without lots, or mutual arrangement; of which circumstance both themselves and the patricians who conferred it afterwards repented. Without any previous reconnoitre they sent out some cohorts to forage.
It having been falsely reported to [p. 429]
them that these were ensnared, whilst they march in great haste, in order to support them, without even retaining the author [of the report] who had deceived them, he being a Latin enemy instead of a Roman soldier, they themselves fell into an ambuscade.
There, whilst they suffer and commit great havoc, making resistance on disadvantageous ground solely by the valour of the soldiers, the enemy in the mean time in another quarter attacked the Roman camp which was situate on a plain. By their temerity and want of skill, matters were brought into jeopardy in both places by the generals.
Whatever portion [of the army] was saved, the good fortune of the Roman people, and the steady valour of the soldiers, even without a director, protected.
When an account of these events was brought to Rome, it was at first agreeable to them that a dictator should be appointed; then when intelligence was received from the Volscian country that matters were quiet, and it appeared manifest that they knew not how to take advantage of victory and of opportunity, the army and generals were recalled from thence also; and there was quiet from that quarter, as far as regarded the Volscians.
The only disturbance there was towards the end of the year was, that the Praenestines, having stirred up some of the states of the Latins, renewed hostilities.
During the same year new colonists were enrolled for Setia, the colony itself complaining of the paucity of men. Domestic tranquillity, which the influence of the plebeian military tribunes and the respect shown to them among their own party procured, was a consolation for the want of success in war.