The year having expired, the war was thenceforward carried on by the Dictator, Q. Fabius, whilst the new consuls, like their predecessors, remained in Rome. Fabius marched with reinforcements to Saticula to take over the army from Aemilius.
The Samnites did not remain before Plistica; they had called up fresh troops from home, and trusting to their numbers they fixed their camp on the same ground as in the previous year and endeavoured to distract the Romans from their siege operations by a series of harassing attacks.
This made the Dictator all the more determined to press the siege, as he Considered that the reduction of the place would largely affect the character of the war; he treated the Samnites with comparative indifference, and merely strengthened the pickets on that side of the camp to meet any attack that might be made.
This emboldened the Samnites; they rode up to the rampart day after day and allowed the Romans no rest. At last they almost got within the gates of the camp, when Q. Aulius, the Master of the Horse, without consulting the Dictator, charged them furiously from the camp with the whole of his cavalry and drove them off.
Though this was only a desultory conflict, Fortune influenced it so largely that she inflicted a signal loss on both sides and brought about the deaths of both Commanders.
First, the Samnite general, indignant at being repulsed and put to flight from the ground over which he had ridden with such confidence, induced his cavalry by entreaties and encouragement to renew the combat.
Whilst he was conspicuous amongst them as he urged on the fighting, the Master of the Horse levelled his lance and spurred his horse against him with such force that with one thrust he hurled him from his saddle dead.
His men were not, as often happens, dismayed at their leader's fall. All who were round him flung their missiles on Aulius, who had incautiously ridden on amongst them, but they allowed the dead general's brother to have the special glory of avenging his death.
In a frenzy of grief and rage he dragged the Master of the Morse out of his saddle and slew him.
The Samnites, amongst whom he had fallen, would have secured the body had not the Romans suddenly leaped from their horses, on which the Samnites were obliged to do the same. A fierce infantry fight raged round the bodies of the two generals in which the Roman was decidedly superior; the body of Aulius was rescued, and amidst mingled demonstrations of grief and joy the victors carried it into camp.
After losing their leader and seeing the unfavourable result of the trial of strength in the cavalry action, the Samnites considered it useless to make any further efforts on behalf of Saticula and resumed the siege of Plistica. A few days later Saticula surrendered to the Romans and Plistica was carried by assault by the Samnites