The business of the nation was managed no better in the field than at home.
The only fault of the generals was that they had made the citizens detest them; the rest of the blame belonged to the soldiers, who, that nothing might anywhere prosper under the command and auspices of the decemvirs, permitted themselves to be beaten, to their own disgrace and that of their commanders.
Their armies were routed, both by the Sabines near Eretum, and on Algidus by the Aequi. From Eretum they [p. 141]
fled in the silence of the night, and intrenched1
themselves near the City, between Fidenae and Crustumeria, on elevated ground.
When the enemy followed them up, they nowhere ventured to fight in the open field, but defended themselves by the position and their rampart, not by bravery and arms.
The disgrace on Algidus was worse, and a worse disaster was sustained; even the camp was lost, and stripped of all their baggage, the soldiers fled to Tusculum, to subsist by the loyalty and compassion of their hosts, —which nevertheless did not fail them.
To Rome came such alarming reports that the patricians, laying aside now their hatred of the decemvirs, voted to establish watches in the City, and commanded all who were of an age to bear arms to guard the walls and do outpost duty before the gates.
They decreed that arms should be dispatched to Tusculum, and reinforcements, and that the decemvirs should descend from the Tusculan citadel and hold their troops in camp; that the other camp should be transferred from Fidenae to Sabine territory, so that by taking the offensive they might frighten the enemy into abandoning his design to besiege the City.