When Publilius was about to engage, considering it proper to address his soldiers first, he ordered an assembly to be summoned. But though they ran together to the general's quarters with the greatest alacrity, yet so loud were their clamours, demanding the fight, that none of the general's exhortations were heard: each man's own reflections on the late disgrace served as an exhortation.
They advanced there- fore to battle, urging the standard-bearers to hasten; and rest, in beginning the conflict, there should be any delay, in wielding their javelins and then drawing their swords, they threw away the former, as if a signal to that purpose had been given, and, drawing the latter, rushed in full speed upon the foe.
Nothing of a general's skill was displayed in forming ranks or reserves; the resentment of the troops performed all, with a degree of fury little inferior to madness.
The enemy, therefore, were not only completely routed, not even daring to embarrass their flight by retreating to their camp, [p. 577]
but dispersing, made towards Apulia in scattered parties: afterwards, however, collecting their forces into one body, they reached Luceria.
The same exasperation, which had carried the Romans through the midst of the enemy's line, carried them forward also into their camp, where greater carnage was made, and more blood spilt, than even in the field, while the greater part of the spoil was destroyed in their rage.
The other army, with the consul Papirius, had now arrived at Arpi, on the sea-coast, having passed without molestation through all the countries in their way; which was owing to the ill-treatment received by those people from the Samnites, and their hatred towards them, rather than to any favour received from the Roman people.
For such of the Samnites as dwelt on the mountains in separate villages, used to ravage the low lands, and the places on the coast; and being mountaineers, and savage themselves, despised the husbandmen who were of a gentler kind, and, as generally happens, resembled the district they inhabited.
Now if this tract had been favourably affected towards the Samnites, either the Roman army could have been prevented from reaching Arpi, or, as it lay between Rome and Arpi, it might have intercepted the convoys of provisions, and utterly destroyed them by the consequent scarcity of all necessaries.
Even as it was, when they went from thence to Luceria, both the besiegers and the besieged were distressed equally by want. Every kind of supplies was brought to the Romans from Arpi; but in so very scanty proportion, that the horsemen had to carry corn from thence to the camp, in little bags, for the foot, who were employed in the outposts, watches, and works; and sometimes falling in with the enemy, they were obliged to throw the corn from off their horses, in order to fight.
Before the arrival of the other consul and his victorious army, both provisions had been brought in to the Samnites, and reinforcements conveyed in to them from the mountains;
but the coming of Publilius contracted all their resources; for, committing the siege to the care of his colleague, and keeping himself disengaged, he threw every difficulty in the way of the enemy's convoys.
There being therefore little hope for the besieged, or that they would be able much longer to endure want, the Samnites, encamped at Luceria, were obliged to collect their forces from every side, and come to an engagement with Papirius. [p. 578]