From henceforth, the accounts are clear, that the other wars were conducted to a conclusion by the consuls. Aulius, by one successful battle, entirely conquered the Forentans. The city, to which their army had retreated after its defeat, surrendered on terms, hostages having been demanded.
With similar success the other consul conducted his operations [p. 581]
against the Satricans; who, though Roman citizens, had, after the misfortune at Caudium, revolted to the Samnites, and received a garrison into their city.
The Satricans, however, when the Roman army approached their walls, sent deputies to sue for peace, with humble entreaties; to whom the consul answered harshly, that “they must not come again to him, unless they either put to death, or delivered up, the Samnite garrison:” by which terms greater terror was struck into the colonists than by the arms with which they were threatened.
The deputies, accordingly, several times asking the consul, how he thought that they, who were few and weak, could attempt to use force against a garrison so strong and well-armed: he desired them to “seek counsel from those, by whose advice they had received that garrison into the city.”
They then departed, and returned to their countrymen, having obtained from the consul, with much difficulty, permission to consult their senate on the matter, and bring back their answer to him.
Two factions divided the senate; one that whose leaders had been the authors of the defection from the Roman people, the other consisted of the citizens who retained their loyalty; both, however, showed an earnest desire, that every means should be used towards effecting an accommodation with the consul for the restoration of peace.
As the Samnite garrison, being in no respect prepared for holding out a siege, intended to retire the next night out of the town, one party thought it sufficient to discover to the consul, at what hour, through what gate, and by what road, his enemy was to march out.
The other, against whose wishes defection to the Samnites had occurred, even opened one of the gates for the consul in the night, secretly admitting the armed enemy into the town.
In consequence of this twofold treachery, the Samnite garrison was surprised and overpowered by an ambush, placed in the woody places, near the road; and, at the same time, a shout was raised in the city, which was now filled with the enemy. Thus, in the short space of one hour, the Samnites were put to the sword, the Satricans made prisoners, and all things reduced under the power of the consul;
who, having instituted an inquiry by whose means the revolt had taken place, scourged with rods and beheaded such as he found to be guilty; and then, disarming the Satricans, he placed a strong garrison in the place.
On this those writers [p. 582]
state, that Papirius Cursor proceeded to Rome to celebrate his triumph, who say, that it was under his guidance Luceria was retaken, and the Samnites sent under the yoke.
Undoubtedly, as a warrior, he was deserving of every military praise, excelling not only in vigour of mind, but likewise in strength of body.
He possessed extraordinary swiftness of foot, surpassing every one of his age in running, from whence came the surname into his family; and he is said, either from the robustness of his frame, or from much practice, to have been able to digest a very large quantity of food and wine.
Never did either the foot-soldier or horseman feel military service more laborious, under any general, because he was of a constitution not to be overcome by fatigue.
The 'cavalry, on some occasion, venturing to request that, in consideration of their good behaviour, he would excuse them some part of their business, he told them, “Ye should not say that no indulgence has been granted you, —I excuse you from rubbing your horses' backs when ye dismount.”
He supported also the authority of command, in all its vigour, both among the allies and his countrymen.
The praetor of Praeneste, through fear, had been tardy in bringing forward his men from the reserve to the front: he, walking before his tent, ordered him to be called, and then bade the lictor to make ready his axe, on which, the Praenestine standing frightened almost to death, he said, “Here, lictor, cut away this stump, it is troublesome to people as they walk;”
and, after thus alarming him with the dread of the severest punishment, he imposed a fine and dismissed him.
It is beyond doubt, that during that age, than which none was ever more productive of virtuous characters, there was no man in whom the Roman affairs found a more effectual support; nay, people even marked him out, in their minds, as a match for Alexander the Great, in case that, having completed the conquest of Asia, he should have turned his arms on Europe.