The result of this embassy being reported at Rome, the care of all other concerns being laid aside, the senate, having despatched heralds to demand satisfaction, and, because this was not complied with, war being proclaimed in the usual way, they decreed that the matter should be submitted to the people at the very earliest opportunity;
and both the consuls having set out from the city by order of the people with two armies, Valerius into Campania, Cornelius into Samnium, the former pitches his camp at Mount Gaurus, the latter at Saticula.
The legions of the Samnites met with Valerius first; for they thought that the whole weight of the war would incline to that side. At the same time resentment stimulated them against the Campanians, that they should be so ready at one time to lend aid, at another to call in aid against them.
But as soon as they beheld the Roman camp, they fiercely demanded the signal each from his leader; they maintained that the Roman would bring aid to the Campanian with the same fate with which the Campanian had done to the Sidicinian.
Valerius, having delayed for a few days in slight skirmishes for the purpose of making trial of the enemy, displayed the signal
for battle, exhorting his men in few words “not to let the new war or the new enemy terrify them.
In proportion as they should carry their arms to a greater [p. 487]
distance from the city, the more and more unwarlike should the nation prove to be against whom they should proceed That they should not estimate the valour of the Samnites by the defeats of the Sidicinians and Campanians. Let the combatants be of what kind they may be, that it was necessary that one side should be vanquished.
That as for the Campanians indeed, they were undoubtedly vanquished more by circumstances flowing from excessive luxury and by their own want of energy than by the bravery of the enemy.
What were the two successful wars of the Samnites, during so many ages, against so many glorious exploits of the Roman people, who counted almost more triumphs than years since the building of their city? who held subdued by their arms all the states around them, the Sabines, Etruria, the Latins, Hernicians, Aequans, Volscians, Auruncans?
who eventually drove by flight into the sea, and into their ships, the Gauls, after slaughtering them in so many engagements? That soldiers ought both to enter the field relying on their national military renown, and on their own valour, and also to consider under whose command and auspices the battle is to be fought;
whether he be one which is to be listened to as a pompous exhorter, bold merely in words, unacquainted with military labours, or one who knows how to wield arms himself also, to advance before the standards, and to show himself in the midst of the danger.
My acts, not my words merely, I wish you to follow; and to seek from me not military orders only, but example also. It was not by intrigues merely, nor by cabals usual among the nobles, but by this right hand, I procured for myself three consulships, and the highest eulogies.
There was a time when this could be said; [no wonder,] for you were a patrician, and sprung from the liberators of your country; and that family of yours had the consulship the same year that the city had consuls.
Now the consulship lies open in common to us patricians and to you plebeians; nor is it, as formerly, the prize of birth, but of valour. Look forward, therefore, soldiers, to even the highest honour.
Though you, as men, have, with the approbation of the gods, given me this new surname of Corvus, the ancient surname of our family, Publicolae, has not been erased from my memory.
I ever do and ever have cultivated the good will of the Roman commons abroad and at home, as a private man and in public [p. 488]
offices, high and low, as tribune equally as when consul, with the same undeviating line of conduct through all my successive consulships.
Now, with respect to that which is at hand, with the aid of the gods, join with me in seeking a new and complete triumph over the Samnites.”