Samnite war, the sudden dejection of the Lucanians, and the fact that the Tarentines had been the instigators were quite sufficient in themselves to cause the senators anxiety.
Fresh trouble, however, arose this year through the action of the Vestinians, who made common cause with the Samnites The matter had been a good deal discussed, though it had not yet occupied the attention of the government. In the following year, however, the new consuls, L. Furius Camillus and Junius Brutus Scaeva, made it the very first question to bring before the senate.
Though the subject was no new one, yet it was felt to be so serious that the senators shrank from either taking it up or refusing to deal with it They were afraid that if they left that nation unpunished, the neighboring states might be encouraged to make a similar display of wanton arrogance, while to punish them by force of arms might lead others to fear similar treatment and arouse feelings of resentment.
In fact, the whole of these nations —the Marsi, the Paeligni, and the Marrucini —were quite as warlike as the Samnites, and in case the Vestinians were attacked would have to be reckoned with as enemies.
The victory, however, rested with that party in the senate who seemed at the time to possess more daring than prudence, but the result showed that Fortune favours the bold.
The people, with the sanction of the senate, resolved on war with the Vestinians.
The conduct of that war fell by lot to Brutus, the war in Samnium to Camillus.
Armies were marched into both countries, and by carefully watching the frontiers the enemy were prevented from effecting a junction. The consul who had the heavier task, L. Furius, was overtaken by a serious illness and was obliged to resign his command.
He was ordered to nominate a Dictator to carry on the campaign, and he nominated L. Papirius Cursor, the foremost soldier of his day, Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus being appointed Master of the Horse.
The two distinguished themselves by their conduct in the field, but they made themselves still more famous by the conflict which broke out between them, and which almost led to fatal consequences.
The other consul, Brutus, carried on an active campaign amongst the Vestinians without meeting with a single reverse. He ravaged the fields and burnt the farm buildings and crops of enemy, and at last drove him reluctantly into action.
A pitched battle was fought, and he inflicted such a defeat on the Vestinians, though with heavy loss on his own side also, that they fled to their camp, but not feeling sufficiently protected by fosse and rampart they dispersed in scattered parties to their towns, trusting to their strong positions and stone walls for their defence. Brutus now commenced an attack upon their towns.
The first to be taken was Cutina, which he carried by escalade, after a hot assault by his men, who were eager to avenge the heavy losses they had sustained in the previous battle. This was followed by the capture of Cingilia.
He gave the spoil of both cities to his troops as a reward for their having surmounted the walls and gates of the enemy.