While the siege of Privernum was being conducted by the two consular armies, one of the consuls was recalled to Rome, on account of the elections.
This year gaols were first erected in the circus. While the attention of the public was still occupied by the Privernian war, an alarming report of the Gauls being in arms, a matter scarcely ever slighted by the senate, suddenly came on them.
The new consuls, therefore, Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus and Caius Plautius, on the calends of July, the very day on which they entered into office, received orders to settle the provinces immediately between themselves; and Mamercinus, to whom the Gallic war fell, was directed to levy troops, without admitting any plea of immunity: nay, it is said, that even the rabble of handicrafts, and those of sedentary trades, of all the worst qualified for military service, were called out;
and a vast army was collected at Veii, in readiness to meet the Gauls.
It was thought proper not to proceed to a greater distance, lest the enemy might by some other route arrive at the city without being observed. In the course of a few days it being ascertained, on a careful inquiry, that every thing on that side was quiet at the time; the whole force, which was to have opposed the Gauls, was then turned against Priver- num.
Of the issue of the business, there are two different accounts: some say, that the city was taken by storm; and that Vitruvius fell alive into the hands [of the conquerors]: others maintain that the townsmen, to avoid the extremities of a storm, presenting the rod of peace, surrendered to the consul; and that Vitruvius was delivered up by his troops.
The senate, being consulted with respect to Vitruvius and the Privernians, sent directions, that the consul Plautius should demolish the walls of Privernum, and, leaving a strong garrison there, come home to enjoy the honour of a triumph; at the same time ordering that Vitruvius should be kept in prison, until the return of the consul, and that he should then be beaten with rods, and put to death.
His house, which stood [p. 531]
on the Palatine hill, they commanded to be razed to the ground, and his effects to be devoted to Semo Sancus. With the money produced by the sale of them, brazen globes were formed, and placed in the chapel of Sancus, opposite to the temple of Quirinus.
As to the senate of Privernum, it was decreed, that every person who had continued to act as a senator of Privernum, after the revolt from the Romans, should reside on the farther side of the Tiber, under the same restrictions as those of Velitrae.
After the passing of these decrees, there was no further mention of the Privernians, un- til Plautius had triumphed. After the triumph, Vitruvius, with his accomplices, having been put to death, the consul thought that all being now fully gratified by the sufferings of the guilty, allusion might be safely made to the business of the Privernians, he spoke in the following manner:
“Con- script fathers, since the authors of the revolt have received, both from the immortal gods and from you, the punishment so well merited, what do ye judge proper to be done with respect to the guiltless multitude?
For my part, although my duty consists rather in collecting the opinions of others than in offering my own, yet, when I reflect that the Privernians are situated in the neighbourhood of the Samnites, our peace with whom is exceedingly uncertain, I should wish, that as little ground of animosity as possible may be left between them and us.”