The consul, having led out his army to the summer [p. 497]
campaign, determined, whilst he had the Samnites quiet, to purge the army by sending away the turbulent men; by telling some that their regular time had been served; that others were weighed down by years and debilitated in bodily vigour.
Some were sent away on furloughs, at first individuals, then some cohorts also, on the plea that they had wintered far from their home and domestic affairs.
When different individuals were sent to different places under pretence of the business of the service, a considerable number were put out of the way; which multitude the other consul detained in Rome under different pretences.
And first indeed, not suspecting the artifice, they returned to their homes by no means with reluctance. After they saw that neither those first sent returned to their standards, and that scarcely any others, except those who had wintered in Campania, and chiefly the fomenters of the mutiny, were sent away; at first wonder, and then certain fear entered their minds, that their schemes had been divulged;
"that now they would have to suffer trials, discoveries, the secret punishments of individuals, and the tyrannical and cruel despotism of the consuls and the senate.
Those who were in the camp, discuss these things in secret conferences, seeing that the sinews of the conspiracy had been got rid of by the artifice of the consul.
One cohort, when they were at no great distance from Anxur, posted itself at Lautulae, in a narrow woody pass between the sea and the mountains, to intercept those whom the consul was dismissing under various pretences (as has been already mentioned). Their body was now becoming strong in numbers; nor was any thing wanting to complete the form of a regular army, except a leader.
Without order, therefore, they come into the Alban territory committing depredations, and under the hill of Alba Longa, they encompass their camp with a rampart.
The work here being completed, during the remainder of the day they discuss their different opinions regarding the choice of a commander, not having sufficient confidence in any of those present. Whom could they invite out from Rome?
What individuals of the patricians or of the commons was there, who would either knowingly expose himself to such imminent danger, or to whom could the cause of the army, set mad by ill-treatment, be safely committed?
On the following day, when the same subject of deliberation detained [p. 498]
them, some of the straggling marauders ascertained and brought an account, that Titus Quinctius cultivated a farm in the Tusculan territory, forgetful of the city and its honours.
This was a man of patrician family, whose military career, which was passed with great glory, having been relinquished in consequence of one of his feet being lamed by a wound, he determined on spending his life in the country far from ambition and the forum. His name once heard, they immediately recognised the man; and with wishes for success, ordered him to be sent for.
There was, however, but little hope that he would do any thing voluntarily; they resolved on employing force and intimidation.
Accordingly those who had been sent for the purpose, having entered the house in the silence of the night, and surprising Quinctius overcome in sleep, threatening that there was no alternative, either authority and honour, or death, in case he resisted, unless he followed, they force him to the camp.
Immediately on his arrival he was styled general, and whilst he was startled at the strange nature of the sudden occurrence, they convey to him the ensigns of honour, and bid him lead them to the city.
Then having torn up their standard, more under the influence of their own impetuosity than by the command of their general, they arrive in hostile array at the eighth stone on the road, which is now the Appian;
and would have proceeded immediately to the city, had they not heard that an army was coming to meet them, and that Marcus Valerius Corvus was nominated dictator against them, and Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus master of the horse.