Meanwhile, after much time had been lost in the tedious siege of Nequinum, two of the townsmen, whose houses were contiguous to the wall, having formed a subterraneous passage, came by that private way to the Roman advanced guards;
and being conducted thence to the consul, offered to give admittance to a body of armed men within the works and walls.
The proposal was thought to be such as ought neither to be rejected, nor yet assented to without caution. With one of these men, the other being detained as an hostage, two spies were sent through the mine, and certain information being
received from them, three hundred men in arms, guided by the deserter, entered the city, and seized by night the nearest gate, which being broken open, the Roman consul and his army took possession of the city without any opposition. In this manner came Nequinum under the dominion of the Roman people.
A colony was sent thither as a barrier against the Umbrians, and called Narnia, from the river Nar. The troops returned to Rome with abundance of spoil. This year the Etrurians made preparations for war in violation of the truce.
But a vast army of the Gauls, making an irruption into their territories, while their attention was directed to another quarter, suspended for a time the execution of their design.
They then, relying on the abundance of money which they possessed, endeavour to make allies of the Gauls, instead of enemies; in [p. 640]
order that, with their armies combined, they might attack the Romans.
The barbarians made no objection to the alliance, and a negotiation was opened for settling the price; which being adjusted and paid, and every thing else being in readiness for commencing their operations, the Etrurians desired them to accompany them in their march.
This they refused, alleging that “they had stipulated a price for making war against the Romans: that the payment already made, they had received in consideration of their not wasting the Etrurian territory, or using their arms against the inhabitants.
That notwithstanding, if it was the wish of the Etrurians, they were still willing to engage in the war, but on no other condition than that of being allowed a share of their lands, and obtaining at length some permanent settlement.”
Many assemblies of the states of Etruria were held on this subject, and nothing could be settled; not so much by reason of their aversion from the dismemberment of their territory, as because every one felt a dread of fixing in so close vicinity to themselves people of such a savage race.
The Gauls were therefore dismissed, and carried home an immense sum of money, acquired without toil or danger. The report of a Gallic tumult, in addition to an Etrurian war, had caused serious apprehensions at Rome; and, with the less hesitation on that account, an alliance was concluded with the state of the Picentians.