To Fabius, in consideration of his extraordinary merit in the conquest of Etruria, the consulship was continued.
Decius was appointed his colleague. Valerius was created Praetor a fourth time. The consuls divided the provinces between them.
Etruria fell to Decius, Samnium to Fabius. The latter, having marched to Nuceria, rejected the application of the people of Alfaterna, who then sued for peace, because they had not accepted it when offered, and by force of arms compelled them to surrender.
A battle was fought with the Samnites; the enemy were overcome without much difficulty: nor would the memory of that engagement have been preserved, except that in it the Marsians first appeared in arms against the Romans.
The Pelignians, imitating the defection of the Marsians, met the same fate. The other consul, Decius, was likewise very successful in his operations: through terror he compelled the Tarquinians to supply his army with corn, and to sue for a truce for forty years.
He took several forts from the Volsinians by assault, some of which he demolished, that they might not serve as receptacles to the enemy, and by extending his operations through every quarter, diffused such a dread of his arms, that the whole [p. 618]
Etrurian nation sued to the consul for an alliance: this they did not obtain; but a truce for a year was granted them.
The pay of the Roman army for that year was furnished by the enemy; and two tunics for each soldier were exacted from them: this was the purchase of the truce.'
The tranquillity now established in Etruria was interrupted by a sudden insurrection of the Umbrians, a nation which had suffered no injury from the war, except what inconvenience the country had felt in the passing of the army.
These, by calling into the field all their own young men, and forcing a great part of the Etrurians to resume their arms, made up such a numerous force, that speaking of themselves with ostentatious vanity, and of the Romans with contempt, they boasted that they would leave Decius behind in Etruria, and march away to besiege Rome;
which design of theirs being reported to the consul Decius, he removed by long marches from Etruria towards their city, and sat down in the district of Pupinia, in readiness to act according to the intelligence received of the enemy.
Nor was the insurrection of the Umbrians slighted at Rome: their very threats excited tears among the people, who had experienced, in the calamities suffered from the Gauls, how insecure a city they inhabited.
Deputies were therefore despatched to the consul Fabius with directions, that, if he had any respite from the war of the Samnites, he should with all haste lead his army into Umbria.
The consul obeyed the order, and by forced marches proceeded to Mevania, where the forces of the Umbrians then lay.
The unexpected arrival of the consul, whom they had believed to be sufficiently employed in Samnium, far distant from their country, so thoroughly affrighted the Umbrians, that several advised retiring to their fortified towns; others, the discontinuing the war. However, one district, called by themselves Materina, prevailed on the rest not only to retain their arms, but to come to an immediate engagement.
They fell upon Fabius while he was fortifying his camp.
When the consul saw them rushing impetuously towards his rampart, he called off his men from the work, and drew them up in the best manner which the nature of the place and the time allowed; encouraging them by displaying, in honourable and just terms, the glory which they had acquired, as well in Etruria as in Samnium, he bade them finish this insignificant appendage [p. 619]
to the Etrurian war, and take vengeance for the impious expressions in which these people had threatened to attack the city of Rome.
Such was the alacrity of the soldiers on hearing this, that, raising the shout spontaneously, they interrupted the general's discourse, and, without waiting for orders, advanced, with the sound of all the trumpets and cornets, in full speed against the enemy.
They made their attack not as on men, or at least men in arms, but, what must appear wonderful in the relation, began by snatching the standards out of the hands which held them; and then, the standard-bearers themselves were dragged to the consul, and the armed soldiers transferred from the one line to the other; and wherever resistance was any where made, the business was performed, not so much with swords, as with their shields, with the bosses of which, and thrusts of their elbows, they bore down the foe.
The prisoners were more numerous than the slain, and through the whole line the Umbrians called on each other, with one voice, to lay down their arms.
Thus a surrender was made in the midst of action, by the first promoters of the war; and on the next and following days, the other states of the Umbrians also surrendered. The Ocriculans were admitted to a treaty of friendship on giving security.