They then marched back to Sora; and the new consuls, Marcus Pœtelius and Caius Sulpicius, receive the army from the dictator Fabius, discharging a great part of the veteran soldiers, having brought with them new cohorts to supply their place.
Now while, on account of the difficult situation of the city, no certain mode of attack could be devised, and success must either be distant in time, or at a desperate risk;
a deserter from Sora came out of the town privately by night, and when he had got as far as the [p. 593]
Roman watches, desired to be conducted instantly to the con- suls: which being complied with, he made them an offer of delivering the place into their hands.
When he answered their questions, respecting the means by which he intended to make good his promise, appearing to state a project by no means idle, he persuaded them to remove the Roman camp, which was almost close to the walls, to the distance of six miles;
that the consequence would be that this would render the guards by day, and the watches by night, the less vigilant.
He then desired that some cohorts should post themselves the following night in the woody places under the town, and took with himself ten chosen soldiers, through steep and almost impassable ways, into the citadel, where a quantity of missive weapons had been collected, larger than bore proportion to the number of men. There were stones besides, some lying at random, as in all craggy places, and others heaped up designedly by the townsmen, to add to the security of the place.
Having posted the Romans here, and shown them a steep and narrow path leading up from the town to the citadel —“From this ascent,” said he, “even three armed men would keep off any multitude whatever.
Now ye are ten in number; and, what is more, Romans, and the bravest among the Romans. The night is in your favour, which, from the uncertainty it occasions, magnifies every object to people once alarmed. I will immediately fill every place with terror: be ye alert in defending the citadel.”
He then ran down in haste, crying aloud, “To arms, citizens, we are undone, the citadel is taken by the enemy; run, defend it.”
This he repeated, as he passed the doors of the principal men, the same to all whom he met, and also to those who ran out in a fright into the streets. The alarm, communicated first by one, was soon spread by numbers through all the city.
The magistrates, dismayed on hearing from scouts that the citadel was full of arms and armed men, whose number they multiplied, laid aside all hopes of recovering it.
All places are filled with terror: the gates are broken open by persons half asleep, and for the most part unarmed, through one of which the body of Roman troops, roused by the noise, burst in, and slew the terrified inhabitants, who attempted to skirmish in the streets.
Sora was now taken, when, at the first light, the consuls arrived, and accepted the surrender of those whom fortune had [p. 594]
left remaining after the flight and slaughter of the night.
Of these, they conveyed in chains to Rome two hundred and twenty-five, whom all men agreed in pointing out as the au- thors, both of the revolt, and also of the horrid massacre of the colonists. The rest they left in safety at Sora, a garrison being placed there.
All those who were brought to Rome were beaten with rods in the forum, and beheaded, to the great joy of the commons, whose interest it most highly con- cerned, that the multitudes, sent to various places in colonies, should be in safety.