The Samnites finding that, instead of a peace which flattered their pride, the war was revived, and with the utmost inveteracy, not only felt, in their minds, a foreboding of all the consequences which ensued, but saw them, in a manner, before their eyes.
They now, too late and in vain, applauded the plans of old Pontius, by blundering between which, they had exchanged the possession of victory for an uncertain peace; and having lost the opportunity of doing a kindness or an injury, were now to fight against men, whom they might have either put out of the way, for ever, as enemies; or engaged, for ever, as friends.
And such was the change which had taken place in men's minds, since the Caudine peace, even before any trial of strength had shown an advantage on either side, that Postumius, by surrendering himself, had acquired greater renown among the Romans, than Pontius among the Samnites, by his bloodless victory.
The Romans considered their being at liberty to make war, as certain victory; while the Samnites supposed the Romans victorious, the moment they resumed their arms.
Meanwhile, the Satricans revolted to the Samnites, who attacked the colony of Fregellae, by a sudden surprise in the night, accompanied, as it appears, by the Satricans.
From that time until day, their mutual fears kept both parties quiet: the daylight was the signal for battle, which the Fregellans contrived to maintain, for a considerable time, without loss of ground; both because they fought for their religion and liberty; and [p. 576]
the multitude, who were unfit to bear arms, assisted them, from the tops of the houses.
At length a stratagem gave the advantage to the assailants; for they suffered the voice of a crier to be heard proclaiming, that “whoever laid down his arms might retire in safety.” This relaxed their eagerness in the fight, and they began almost every where to throw away their arms.
A part, more determined, however, retaining their arms, rushed out by the opposite gate, and their boldness brought greater safety to them, than their fears, which inclined them to credulity, did to the others: for the Samnites, having surrounded the latter with fires, burned them all to death, while they made vain appeals to the faith of gods and men.
The consuls having settled the provinces between them, Papirius proceeded into Apulia to Luceria, where the Roman horsemen, given as hostages at Caudium, were kept in custody: Publilius remained in Samnium, to oppose the Caudine legions.
This proceeding perplexed the minds of the Samnites: they could not safely determine either to go to Luceria, lest the enemy should press on their rear; or to remain where they were, lest in the mean time Luceria should be lost.
They concluded, therefore, that it would be most advisable to trust to the decision of fortune, and to try the issue of a battle with Publilius: accordingly they drew out their forces into the field.