Having been everywhere victorious, the dictator, as decreed by the senate and ratified by the people, returned to the City in triumphal procession.
By far the greatest spectacle in the triumph was Cossus, bearing the spoils of honour of the slain king, while the soldiers sang rude verses about him, comparing him to Romulus.
The spoils he fastened up as an offering, with solemn dedication, in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, near the spoils of Romulus, which had been the first to be called opima,
and were at that time the only ones. Cossus had drawn the gaze of the citizens away from the car of the dictator upon himself, and the honours of that crowded festival were virtually his alone.
The [p. 323]
dictator, at the people's behest, presented to Jupiter1
on the Capitol a golden chaplet of a pound in weight, from the public treasury.
Following all previous historians, I have stated that Aulus Cornelius Cossus was a military tribune when he brought the second spoils of honour to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius.
But besides that only those are properly held to be “spoils of honour” which one commander has taken from another commander, and that we know no “commander” but him under whose auspices the war is waged, the very words inscribed upon the spoils disprove their account and mine, and show that it was as consul that Cossus captured them.
Having heard from the lips of Augustus Caesar, the founder or renewer of all the temples, that he had entered the shrine of Jupiter Feretrius, which he repaired when it had crumbled with age, and had himself read the inscription on the linen breast-plate, I have thought it would be almost sacrilege to rob Cossus of such a witness to his spoils as Caesar, the restorer of that very temple.2
Where the error in regard to this matter lies, in consequence of which such ancient annals and also the books of the magistrates, written on linen and deposited in the temple of Moneta, which Licinius Macer cites from time to time as his authority, only give Aulus Cornelius Cossus as consul (with Titus Quinctius Poenus) seven years later, is a matter on which everybody is entitled to his opinion.
For there is this further reason why so famous a battle could not be transferred to the later year, that the consulship of Cossus fell within a period of about three years when there were no wars, owing to a pestilence and a dearth of crops, so that [p. 325]
certain annals, as though death-registers, offer3
nothing but the names of the consuls.
The third year after Cossus's consulship saw him military tribune with consular powers, and in the same year he was master of the horse, in which office he fought another famous cavalry-engagement.
Here is freedom for conjecture, but in my opinion it is idle; for one may brush aside all theories when the man who fought the battle, after placing the newly-won spoils in their sacred resting-place, testified in the presence of Jupiter himself, to whom he had vowed them, and of Romulus —witnesses not to be held lightly by a forger —that he was Aulus Cornelius Cossus, consul.4