As generals for this war the nations all1
agreed in choosing Attius Tullius and Gnaeus Marcius, the Roman exile, who inspired rather more hope than did his colleague.
This hope he by no means disappointed, so that it was easy to see that Rome's commanders were a greater source of strength to her than her armies were. Marching first to Circei, he drove out the Roman colonists from that city and turned it over, thus liberated, to the Volsci.
He took Satricum, Longula, Polusca, and Corioli, places which the Romans had recently acquired.
He then recovered Lavinium, and then, passing over by cross-roads into the Latin Way, captured in succession Corbio, Vetelia, Trebium, Labici, and Pedum.
From Pedum he finally led his army against Rome and, pitching his camp at the Cluilian Trenches, five miles from the City, laid waste the Roman territory from that base, sending out guards with the pillagers to preserve intact the farms of the patricians, whether from anger at the plebs, or to sow dissension between them and the Fathers.
And no doubt it would have sprung up, so vehemently did the tribunes seek by their
accusations to rouse the already headstrong commons against the nation's leaders, but dread of invasion, the strongest bond of harmony, tended to unite their feelings, however they might suspect and dislike one another.
In this one point they were unable to agree, that the senate and the consuls saw no hope anywhere but in arms, while the plebs preferred anything to war. Spurius Nautius and Sextus [p. 347]
Furius were now consuls.2
While they were3
reviewing their levies and distributing garrisons about the walls and the other places where they had seen fit to place pickets and sentries, a great multitude of people demanding peace first terrified them with their rebellious clamour, and then forced them to call the senate together and propose the sending of envoys to Gnaeus Marcius. The Fathers consented to propose it when they saw that the plebeians were growing discouraged, and ambassadors were sent to Marcius to treat for peace.
Stern was the answer they brought back.
If the land of the Volsci were restored to them the question of peace could be taken up; if the Romans wished to enjoy the spoils of war without doing anything, he would forget neither the wrong his fellow-citizens had done him nor the kindness of his hosts, but would strive to show that exile had quickened his courage, not broken it.
When the same envoys were sent back a second time, they were denied admittance to the camp. Even priests, wearing the appropriate fillets, are said to have gone as suppliants to the enemy's camp, where they were no more able than the envoys had been to alter the determination of Marcius.