Lucius Papirius Crassus a second time, and Lucius Plautius Venno were elected consuls; at the commencement of which year ambassadors came to Rome from the Fabraternians, a Volscian people, and from the Lucanians, soliciting to be admitted into alliance:
[promising] that if they were defended from the arms of the Samnites, they would continue in fidelity and obedience under the government of the Roman people.
Ambassadors were then sent by the senate; and the Samnites were directed to withhold all violence from the territories of those states; and this embassy proved effectual not so much because the Samnites were desirous of peace, as because they were not prepared for war.
The same year a war broke out with the people of Privernum; in which the people of Fundi were their supporters, their leader also being [p. 529]
a Fundanian, Vitruvius Vaccus; a man of distinction not only at home, but in Rome also. He had a house on the Palatine hill, which, after the building was razed and the ground thrown open, was called the Vacciprata.
Lucius Papirius having set out to oppose him whilst devastating extensively the districts of Setia, Norba, and Cora, posted himself at no great distance from his camp.
Vitruvius neither adopted the prudent resolution to enclose himself with his trenches against an en my his superior in strength, nor had he sufficient courage to engage at any great distance from his camp.
When his army had scarcely got out of the gate of the camp, and his soldiers were looking backwards to flight rather than to battle or the enemy, he enters on an engagement without judgment or boldness;
and as he was conquered by a very slight effort and unequivocally, so did he by the very shortness of the distance, and by the facility of his retreat into the camp so near at hand, protect his soldiers without difficulty from much loss;
and scarcely were any slain in the engagement itself, and but few in the confusion of the flight in the rear, whilst they were making their way into the camp; and as soon as it was dark they repaired to Privernum in trepidation, so that they might protect themselves rather by walls than by a rampart. Plautius, the other consul, after laying waste the lands in every direction and driving off the spoil, leads his army into the Fundanian territory.
The senate of the Fundanians met him as he was entering their borders; they declare that “they had not come to intercede in behalf of Vitruvius or those who followed his faction, but in behalf of the people of Fundi, whose exemption from any blame in the war had been proved by Vitruvius himself, when he made Privernum his place of retreat, and not his native country, Fundi.
At Privernum, therefore, the enemies of the Roman people were to be looked for, and punished, who revolted at the same time from the Fundanians and the Romans, unmindful of both countries. That the Fundanians were at peace, that they had Roman feelings and a grateful recollection of the political rights received.
They entreated the consul to withhold war from an inoffensive people; their lands, city, heir own bodies and those of their wives and children, were, and ever should be, at the disposal of the Roman people.”
The consul, having commended the Fundanians, and despatched letters to Rome that the Fundanians had preserved their allegiance, [p. 530]
turned his march to Privernum.
Claudius states, that the consul first punished those who were at the head of the conspiracy; that three hundred and fifty of the conspirators were sent in chains to Rome; and that such submission was not received by the senate, because they considered that the people of Fundi wished to come off with impunity by the punishment of needy and humble persons.