leaving Sora the consuls extended the war to the cities and fields of Ausonia, for the whole country had become restless owing to the presence of the Samnites after the battle of Lautulae.
Plots were being hatched everywhere throughout Campania, even Capua was not free from disaffection, and it was found upon investigation that the movement had actually reached some of the principal men in Rome.
It was, however, as in the case of Sora, through the betrayal of her cities that Ausonia fell under the power of Rome.
There were three cities —Ausona, Menturnae, and Vescia — which some twelve young men belonging to the principal families there had mutually agreed to betray to the Romans.
They came to the consuls and informed them that their people had long been looking forward to the arrival of the Samnites, and after they had heard of the battle of Lautulae, they looked upon the Romans as vanquished and many of the younger men had volunteered to serve with the Samnites After the Samnites,
however, had been driven out of their country they were wavering between peace and war, afraid to close their gates to the Romans lest they should provoke a war and yet determined to close them if a Roman army approached their city. In this state of indecision they would fall an easy prey.
Acting on their advice, the Romans moved their camp into the neighbourhood of these cities, and at the same time soldiers were despatched, some fully armed, to occupy concealed positions near the walls, others in ordinary dress, with swords hidden under their togas, were to enter the cities through the open gates at the approach of daylight.
As soon as the latter began to attack the guards the signal was given for the others to rush from their ambush. Thus the gates were secured, and the three towns were captured at the same time and by the same stratagem.
As the generals were not there to direct the attack, there was no check upon the carnage which ensued, and the nation of the Ausonians was exterminated, just as if they had been engaged in an internecine war, though there was no certain proof of their having revolted.