The consuls, leaving Sora, turned their warlike opera- tions against the lands and cities of the Ausonians;
for all places had been set in commotion by the coming of the Sam- nites, when the battle was fought at Lautulae: conspiracies likewise had been formed in several parts of Campania; nor was Capua itself clear of the charge: nay, the business spread even to Rome, and inquiries came to be instituted respecting some of the principal men there.
However, the Ausonian nation fell into the Roman power, in the same manner as Sora, by their cities being betrayed: these were Ausona, Minturnae, and Vescia.
Certain young men, of the principal families, twelve in number, having conspired to betray their respective cities, came to the consuls;
they informed them that their countrymen, who had for a long time before earn- estly wished for the coming of the Samnites, on hearing of the battle at Lautulae, had looked on the Romans as defeated, and had assisted the Samnites with supplies of young men and arms;
but that, since the Samnites had been beaten out of the country, they were wavering between peace and war, not shutting their gates against the Romans, lest they should thereby invite an attack; yet determined to shut them if an army should approach; that in that fluctuating state they might easily be overpowered by surprise.
By these men's advice the camp was moved nearer; and soldiers were sent, at the same time, to each of the three towns; some armed, who were to lie concealed in places near the walls; others, in the garb of peace, with swords hidden under their clothes, who, on the opening of the gates at the approach of day, were to enter into the cities.
These latter began with killing the guards; at the same time, a signal was made to the men in arms, to hasten up from the ambuscades. Thus the gates [p. 595]
were seized, and the three towns taken in the same hour and by the same device.
But as the attacks were made in the absence of the generals, there were no bounds to the carnage which ensued; and the nation of the Ausonians, when there was scarcely any clear proof of the charge of its having revolted, was utterly destroyed, as if it had supported a contest through a deadly war.