At the termination of their year of office the consuls did not hand the legions over to their successors, Sp. Nautius and M. Popilius, but to the Dictator, L. Aemilius.
In conjunction with M. Fulvius, the Master of the Horse, he commenced an attack on Saticula, and the Samnites at once seized this opportunity to renew hostilities.
The Romans were threatened by a double danger; the Samnites, after getting a large army together, had entrenched themselves not far from the Roman camp in order to relieve their blockaded allies, whilst the Saticulans suddenly flung their gates open and made a tumultuous attack on the Roman outposts.
The two bodies of combatants, each relying more on the help of the other than on its own strength, united in a regular attack on the Roman camp. Though both sides of the camp were attacked, the Dictator kept his men free from panic, owing to his having selected a position which could not easily be turned, and also because his men presented two fronts.
He directed his efforts mainly against those who had made the sortie, and drove them back, without much trouble, behind their walls. Then he turned his whole strength against the Samnites.
Here the fighting was more sustained and the victory was longer in coming, but when it did come it was decisive. The Samnites were driven in disorder to their camp, and after extinguishing all the camp fires they departed silently in the night, having abandoned all hope of saving Saticula. By way of retaliation they invested Plistica, a city in alliance with Rome.