Before the new consuls entered on their office, a triumph was celebrated by Popillius over the Gauls amid the great applause of the commons; and they, in a low voice, frequently asked one another, whether any one was dissatisfied with a plebeian consul.
At the same time they found fault with the dictator, who had obtained the consulship as a bribe for having infringed the Licinian law, more dishonourable for the private ambition [evinced] thereby than for the injury inflicted on the public, so that, when dictator, he might have himself appointed consul.
The year was remarkable for many and various commotions. The Gauls [descending] from the Alban mountains, because they were unable to endure the severity of the winter, straggling through the plains and the parts adjoining the sea, committed devastations.
The sea was infested by fleets of the Greeks; and the borders of the Antian shore, and the mouth of the Tiber; so that the maritime plunderers, encountering those on land, fought on one occasion an obstinate fight, and separated, the Gauls to their camp, the Greeks back to their [p. 477]
ships, doubting whether they should consider themselves as vanquished or victors.
Among these the greatest alarm arose at the circumstance, that assemblies of the Latin states were held at the grove of Ferentina;
and an unequivocal answer was given to the Romans on their ordering soldiers from them, “that they should cease to issue their orders to those of whose assistance they stood in need: that the Latins would take up arms in defence of their own liberty, rather than for the dominion of others.”
The senate becoming uneasy at the defection of their allies, whilst two foreign wars existed at the same time, when they perceived that those whom fidelity had not restrained, should be restrained by fear, ordered the consuls to exert to the utmost the energies of their authority in holding a levy.
For that they should depend on an army of their countrymen, since their allies were deserting them. Ten legions are said to have been levied, consisting each of four thousand two hundred infantry and three hundred horse.
Such a newly-raised army, if any foreign force should assail, the present power of the Roman people, which is scarcely confined within the whole world, could not easily raise now, if concentrated upon one point: so true it is, we have improved in those particulars only about which we are solicitous, riches and luxury.
Among the other distressing events of this year, Appius Claudius, one of the consuls, dies in the midst of the preparations for the war; and the whole direction of affairs devolved on Camillus;
over whom, the only consul, it did not appear seemly that a dictator should be appointed, either in consideration of his high character, which should not be made subordinate to the dictatorship, or on account of the auspicious omen of his surname with respect to a Gallic war.
The consul, then, having stationed two legions to protect the city, and divided the remaining eight with the praetor Lucius Pinarius, mindful of his father's valour, selects the Gallic war for himself without any appeal to lots: the praetor he commanded to protect the sea-coast, and to drive the Greeks from the shore.
And after he had marched down into the Pomptine territory, because he neither wished to engage on the level ground, no circumstance rendering it necessary, and he considered that the enemy were sufficiently subdued, by preventing from plunder persons whom necessity obliged to live on what was so obtained, he selected a suitable place for a fixed encampment. [p. 478]