First, the consuls, nearly half naked, were sent under the yoke; then each officer, according to his rank, was exposed to disgrace, and the legions successively.
The enemy stood on each side under arms, reviling and mocking them; swords were pointed at most of them, several were wounded and some even slain, when their looks, rendered too fierce by the indignity to which they were subjected, gave offence to the conquerors. Thus were they led under the yoke; and what was still more intolerable, under the eyes of the enemy.
When they had got clear of the defile, they seemed as if they had been drawn up from the infernal regions, and then for the first time beheld the light; yet, when they viewed the ignominious appearance of the army, the light itself was more painful to them than any kind of death could have been; so that although they might have arrived at Capua before night, yet, uncertain with respect to the fidelity of the allies, and because shame embarrassed them, in need of every thing, they threw themselves carelessly on the ground, on each side of the road: which being told at Capua, just compassion for their allies got the better of the arrogance natural to the Campanians.
They immediately sent to the consuls their ensigns of office, the fasces and lictors; to the soldiers, arms, horses, clothes, and provisions in abundance: and, on their approach to Capua, the whole senate and people went out to meet them, and performed every proper office of hospitality, both public and private.
But the courtesy, kind looks, and address of the allies, could not only not draw
a word from them, but it could not even prevail on them to raise their eyes, or look their consoling friends in the face, so completely did shame, in addition to grief, oblige them to shun the conversation and society of these their friends.
Next day, when some young nobles, who had been sent from Capua, to escort them on their road to the frontiers of Campania, returned, they were called into the senate-house, and, in answer to the inquiries of the elder members, said, that “to them they seemed deeply sunk in melancholy and dejection;
that the whole body moved on in silence, almost as if dumb; the former genius of the Romans was prostrated, and that their spirit had been taken from them, together with their arms.
Not one returned a salute, nor returned an answer to those who greeted them; as if, through fear, they were unable to utter a word;
as if their necks still carried the yoke under which they had been sent. That the Samnites had obtained a victory, not only glorious, but lasting also; for they had subdued, not Rome merely, as the Gauls had formerly done, but what was a much more warlike achievement, the Roman courage.”
When these remarks were made and attentively listened to, and the almost extinction of the Roman name was lamented in this assembly of faithful allies, Ofilius Calavius, son of Ovius, a man highly distinguished, both by his birth and conduct, and at this time [p. 568]
further respectable on account of his age, is said to have declared that he entertained a very different opinion in the case.
“This obstinate silence,” said he, “those eyes fixed on the earth, —those ears deaf to all comfort, —with the shame of beholding the light, —are indications of a mind calling forth, from its inmost recesses, the utmost exertions of resentment.
Either he was ignorant of the temper of the Romans, or that silence would shortly excite, among the Samnites, lamentable cries and groans; for that the remembrance of the Caudine peace would be much more sorrowful to the Samnites than to the Romans. Each side would have their own native spirit, wherever they should happen to engage, but the Samnites would not, every where, have the glens of Caudium.”