the election of Caeso Fabius as consul, together with Titus Verginius, was welcomed by the plebs as much as by the patricians. Now that there was a favourable prospect of concord, he subordinated all military projects to the task of bringing the patricians and the plebs into union at the earliest possible moment.
At the beginning of his year of office he proposed that before any tribune came forward to advocate the Agrarian Law, the senate should anticipate him by themselves undertaking what was their own work and distributing the territory taken in war to the plebeians as fairly as possible. It was only right that those should have it by whose sweat and blood it had been won.
The patricians treated the proposal with scorn, some even complained that the once energetic mind of Caeso was becoming wanton and enfeebled through the excess of glory which he had won.
There were no party struggles in the City. The Latins were being harassed by the inroads of the Aequi. Caeso was despatched thither with an army, and crossed over into the territory of the Aequi to ravage it. The Aequi withdrew into their towns and remained behind their walls.
No battle of any importance took place.
But the rashness of the other consul incurred a defeat at the hands of the Veientines, and it was only the arrival of Caeso Fabius with reinforcements that saved the army from destruction. From that time there was neither peace nor war with the Veientines, whose methods closely resembled those of brigands.
They retired before the Roman legions into their city; then when they found that they were withdrawn they made inroads on the fields, evading war by keeping quiet, and then making quiet impossible by war. So the business could neither be dropped nor completed.
Wars were threatening in other quarters also; some seemed imminent as in the case of the Aequi and Volscians, who were only keeping quiet till the effect of their recent defeat should pass away, whilst it was evident that the Sabines, perpetual enemies of Rome
, and the whole of Etruria would soon be in motion.
But the Veientines, a persistent rather than a formidable foe, created more irritation than alarm because it was never safe to neglect them or to turn the attention elsewhere.
Under these circumstances the Fabii came to the senate and the consul on behalf of his house spoke as follows: ‘As you are aware senators the Veientine war does not require a large force so much as one constantly in the field. Let the other wars be your care, leave the Fabii to deal with the Veientines.
We will guarantee that the majesty of Rome
shall be safe in that quarter. We propose to carry on that war as a private war of our own at our own cost. Let the State be spared money and men there.’
A very hearty vote of thanks was passed; the consul left the House and returned home accompanied by the Fabii, who had been standing in the vestibule awaiting the senate's decision. After receiving instructions to meet on the morrow, fully armed, before the consul's house, they separated for their homes.