After that, little by little, whether it was1
that the gods had been persuaded to forgive or that the sickly season was now past, those whose disease had run its course began to regain their health; and men's thoughts now turned to the commonwealth.
Several interregna had expired, when Publius Valerius Publicola, three days after being made interrex, declared the election to the consulship of Lucius Lucretius Tricipitinus and Titus Veturius Geminus —or Vetusius, if that was his name.2
On the 11th of August they took office, the nation being by that time so strong that it was able not only to defend itself, but even to assume the offensive.
Accordingly, when the Hernici reported that the enemy had crossed their borders, they were promptly offered assistance. Two consular armies were enlisted; Veturius was sent to carry the war into the country of the Volsci;
while Tricipitinus, having been appointed to secure the territory of the allies from inroads, proceeded no further than the land of the Hernici.
Veturius in his first battle defeated and routed his opponents; Lucretius, while [p. 29]
encamped among the Hernici, was eluded by a3
company of raiders, who marched over the mountains of Praeneste and thence down into the campagna; there they laid waste the Praenestine and Gabinian fields; and from the latter district turned towards the hills about Tusculum.
The City of Rome itself received a great fright, more on account of the surprise than from any lack of resources for defence. Quintus Fabius was in charge of the City. Arming the young men and disposing his defences, he made everything secure and tranquil.
And so the enemy, having laid hold of the plunder in their immediate neighbourhood, did not venture to approach Rome, but making a detour, set out towards home. The farther they got from the hostile City the less was their anxiety, till they came unexpectedly upon Lucretius the consul, who having already marked their line of march, had drawn up his troops and was eager to fight.
The spirits of the Romans were therefore prepared for their task, while the enemy were stricken with a sudden panic on being attacked, though by somewhat inferior numbers. The Romans completely routed the great multitude, and driving them into deep valleys, from which escape was difficult, surrounded them.
There the Volscian name was almost blotted out. Thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy fell in the battle and the flight, seventeen hundred and fifty were taken alive, and twenty-seven military standards were brought in, as I find recorded in certain annals; and though there may be some exaggeration of the numbers, it was beyond question a great slaughter.
The victorious consul, in possession of enormous spoils, returned to the permanent camp he had [p. 31]
occupied before. Then the consuls encamped4
together, and the Volsci and Aequi united their shattered forces. The ensuing battle was the third of that year. Fortune bestowed the victory where she had done before; the enemy were routed, and even lost their camp.