Papirius Crassus and L. Plautius Venox were thereupon elected consuls, the former for the second time. At the beginning of the year deputations came from Fabrateria and Luca, places belonging to the Volscians, with a request
to be received into the protection al Rome, whose overlordship they would faithfully and loyally acknowledge if they would undertake to defend them from the Samnites The senate acceded to their request, and sent to warn the Samnites against violating the territory of these two cities.
The Samnites took the warning, not because they were anxious for peace, but because they were not yet ready for war.
This year a war commenced with Privernum and its ally, Fundi; their commander was a Fundan, Vitrubius Baccus, a man of great distinction not only in his own city but even in Rome, where he had a house on the Palatine, which was afterwards destroyed and the site sold, the place being thenceforth known as the Bacci Prata.
Whilst he was spreading devastation far and wide through the districts of Setia, Norba, and Cora, L. Papirius advanced against him and took up a position not far from his camp.
Vitrubius had neither the prudence to remain within his lines in presence of an enemy stronger than himself nor the courage to fight at a distance from his camp.
He gave battle whilst his men were hardly clear of their camp, and thinking more of retreating back to it than of the battle or the enemy, was with very little effort put to a decisive defeat.
Owing to the proximity of the camp retreat was easy, and he had not much difficulty in protecting his men from serious loss; hardly any were killed in the actual battle, and only a few in the rear of the crowded fugitives as they were rushing into their camp As soon as it grew dark they abandoned it for Privernum, trusting to stone walls for protection rather than to the rampart round their camp.
The other consul, Plautius, alter ravaging the fields in all directions and carrying off the plunder, led his army into the territory of Fundi. As he was crossing their frontier the senate of Fundi met him and explained that they had not come to intercede for Vitrubius and those who had belonged to his party, but for the people of Fundi.
They pointed out that Vitrubius himself had cleared them from all responsibility by seeking shelter in Privernum and not in Fundi, though it was his city. At Privernum, therefore, the enemies of Rome were to be looked for and punished, for they had been faithless both to Fundi and Rome.
The men of Fundi wished for peace; their sympathies were wholly Roman, and they retained a grateful sense of the boon they received when the rights of citizenship were conferred upon them.
They besought the consul to abstain from making war upon an unoffending people; their lands, their city, their own persons and the persons of their wives and children were and would continue to be at the disposal of Rome.
The consul commended them for their loyalty and sent despatches to Rome to inform the senate that the Fundans were firm in their allegiance, after which he marched to Privernum. Claudius gives a different account.
According to him the consul first proceeded against the ringleaders of the revolt, of whom three hundred and fifty were sent in chains to Rome. He adds that the senate refused to receive the surrender because they considered that the Fundans were anxious to escape with the punishment of poor and obscure individuals.