Before the commissioners returned from Delphos, or an expiation of the Alban prodigy was discovered, the new military tribunes with consular power entered on their office, Lucius Julius Iulus, Lucius Furius Medullinus for the fourth time, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, Aulus Postumius Regillensis, Publius Cornelius Maluginensis, and Aulus Manlius. This year a new enemy, the Tarquinians, started up.
Because they saw the Romans engaged in many wars together, that of the Volscians at Anxur, where the garrison was besieged, that of the Aequans at Lavici, who were attacking the Roman colony there, moreover in the Veientian, Faliscan, and Capenatian war, and that matters were not more tranquil within the walls, by reason of the dissensions between the patricians and commons; considering that amid these [troubles] there was an opportunity for an attack, they send their light-armed cohorts to commit depredations on the Roman territory.
For [they concluded] either that the Romans would suffer that injury to pass off unavenged, that they might not encumber themselves with an additional war, or that they would resent it with a scanty army, and one by no means strong. The [p. 343]
Romans [felt] greater indignation, than alarm, at the inroads of the Tarquinians.
On this account the matter was neither taken up with great preparation, nor was it delayed for any length of time.
Aulus Postumius and Lucius Julius, having raised a body of men, not by a regular levy, (for they were prevented by the tribunes of the commons,) but [a body consisting] mostly of volunteers, whom they had arouse by exhortations, having proceeded by cross marches through the territory of Caere, fell unexpectedly on the Tarquinians, as they were returning from their depredations and laden with booty;
they slew great numbers, stripped them all of their baggage, and, having recovered the spoils of their own lands, they return to Rome. Two days were allowed to the owners to reclaim their effects.
On the third day, that portion not owned (for most of it belonged to the enemies themselves) was sold by public auction; and what was produced from thence, was distributed among the soldiers.
The other wars, and more especially the Veientian, were of doubtful issue. And now the Romans, despairing of human aid, began to look to the fates and the gods, when the deputies returned from Delphos, bringing with them an answer of the oracle, corresponding with the response of the captive prophet: “Roman, beware lest the Alban water be confined in the lake, beware of suffering it to flow into the sea in its own stream.
Thou shalt let it out and form a passage for it through the fields, and by dispersing it in channels thou shalt consume it.
Then press boldly on the walls of the enemy, mindful that the victory is granted to you by these fates which are now revealed over that city which thou art besieging for so many years.
The war being ended, do thou, as victorious, bring ample offerings to my temples, and having renewed the religious institutions of your country, the care of which has been given up, perform them in the usual manner.”