The Apulians would have joined their forces to the Samnites before this battle, had not the consul, Publius Decius, encamped in their neighbourhood at Maleventum; and, finding means to bring them to an engagement, put them to the rout.
Here, likewise, there was more of flight than of bloodshed. Two thousand of the Apulians were slain; but Decius, despising such an enemy, led his legions into Samnium.
There the two consular armies, overrunning every part of the country during the space of five months, laid it entirely waste.
There were in Samnium forty-five places where Decius, and eighty-six where the other consul, encamped.
Nor did they leave traces only of having been there, as ramparts and trenches, but other dreadful mementos of it —general desolation and regions depopulated.
Fabius also took the city of Cimetra, where he made prisoners two thousand four hundred soldiers; and there were slain in the assault about four hundred and thirty. Going thence to Rome to preside at the elections, he used all expedition in despatching that business.
All the first-called centuries voted Quintus Fabius consul. Appius Claudius was a candidate, a man of consular rank, daring and ambitious;
and as he wished not more ardently for the attainment of that honour for himself, than he did that the patricians might recover the possession of both places in the consulship, he laboured, with all his own power, supported by that of the whole body of the nobility, to prevail on them [p. 647]
to appoint him consul along with Quintus Fabius.
To this Fabius objected, giving, at first, the same reasons which he had advanced the year before. The nobles then all gathered round his seat, and besought him to raise up the consulship out of the plebeian mire, and to restore both to the office itself, and to the patrician rank, their original dignity.
Fabius then, procuring silence, allayed their warmth by a qualifying speech, declaring, that “he would have so managed, as to have received the names of two patricians, if he had seen an intention of appointing any other than himself to the consulship.
As things now stood, he would not set so bad a precedent as to admit his own name among the candidates; such a proceeding being contrary to the laws.”
Whereupon Appius Claudius, and Lucius Volumnius, a plebeian, who had likewise been colleagues in that office before, were elected consuls. The nobility reproached Fabius for declining to act in conjunction with Appius Claudius, because he evidently excelled him in eloquence and political abilities.