The reason alleged was a sudden outbreak B..431 of hostilities on the part of the Aequi and Volsci, which the Latins and the Hernici had reported.
Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus, son of Lucius —the same who is given the added surname Poenus, — and Gnaeus Julius Mento were made consuls. Nor was the fear of war deferred.
After a levy, held under a lex sacrata1
which was their most effective [p. 341]
means of collecting soldiers, strong armies marched2
out from both nations and met on Algidus, where the Aequi encamped
in one place and the Volsci in another, and their generals took more pains than ever before to intrench, and to drill their men. For this reason the report occasioned the more dismay in Rome.
The senate resolved that a dictator should be appointed, since, though often beaten, those nations had renewed the war with greater efforts than at any previous time, and a considerable proportion of the young Romans had been carried off by the plague.
Above all, men were frightened by the wrong-headedness of the consuls, their want of harmony between themselves, and their opposition to each other in all their plans. Some writers say that these consuls were defeated on Algidus, and that this was the reason of the dictator's being named.
Thus much is clear: though they might differ in other matters, they were agreed on one thing, to oppose the wishes of the Fathers for the appointment of a dictator; until, as the reports grew more and more alarming, and the consuls refused to be guided by the senate, Quintus Servilius Priscus, a man who had filled with distinction the highest offices, cried out, “To you, tribunes of the plebs, since matters
have come to an extremity, the senate appeals, that in this great national crisis you may compel the consuls, by virtue of your authority, to name a dictator.”
Hearing this the tribunes felt that an opportunity had come for increasing their power; they conferred apart, and then announced, in behalf of the college, that they were resolved that the consuls should obey the senate; if they persisted further [p. 343]
to oppose the unanimous opinion of that most3
honourable order, they should command them to be put in prison. The consuls preferred to be defeated by the tribunes rather than by the senate.
They declared that the senators had betrayed the rights of the highest office in the state and had ignominiously surrendered the consulship to the tribunician power, since apparently it was possible for the consuls to be subjected to the official compulsion of a tribune, and even —what could a private citizen fear more than that? —be carried off to gaol.
It was determined by lot —for the colleagues had not been able to agree even about this —that Titus Quinctius should name the dictator. He appointed Aulus Postumius Tubertus, his father-in-law, a man of the sternest authority; and by him Lucius Julius was chosen master of the horse. At the same time a levy was proclaimed and a cessation of legal business, and it was ordered that nothing else should be done in all the City but prepare for war.
The examination of those who claimed exemption from military service was put over till after the war, and so even those whose cases were uncertain were disposed to give in their names.4
Men were required also of the Hernici and the Latins, and in both instances the dictator was zealously obeyed.