Messius pressed on with a band of courageous youths over the slain bodies of his enemies, and reached the Volscian camp, which had not yet been taken; and on that point the entire battle converged.
The consul, after pursuing his opponents clear up to the rampart, assailed the camp itself and the palisade; and thither from another part of the field the dictator brought up his troops.
The assault was no less vigorous than the battle had been. They say that the consul even cast his standard into the stockade, to make his men the more eager in the charge, and that in seeking to recover it they made the first breach. The dictator too had breached the rampart and had already carried the fighting into the camp.
Then the enemy began on every hand to throw down their arms and surrender. Finally the camp itself was captured, and the enemy were all sold into slavery, except the senators. A portion of the booty was restored to the Latins and the Hernici, on their identifying it as their own; a part was sold at auction by the dictator; who then left the consul in command of the camp and returning himself in triumph to the City laid down his office.
The memory of the noble dictatorship assumes a sombre hue in a tradition that Aulus Postumius' son, who, tempted by an opportunity of fighting to advantage, had left his post unbidden, was in the hour of his victory beheaded by his father's orders.
One is loath to believe this story, and the diversity of opinion allows one to reject it. It is an indication [p. 353]
of its falsity that we speak of Manlian,1
discipline, whereas he who had first established so rigorous a precedent would himself have received that notorious stigma of cruelty. Besides, Manlius was given the surname Imperiosus
—“the Despotic” —while Postumius received no such grim distinction.
Gnaeus Julius the consul dedicated the temple of Apollo in the absence of his colleague, without drawing lots. Quinctius resented this, when he had dismissed his army and returned to the City; but his complaint of it in the senate was without effect.
To the history of a year famous for its great events, is appended a statement —as though the incident was then regarded as of no importance to the Roman state-that the Carthaginians, destined to be such mighty enemies, then for the first time sent over an army into Sicily to assist one of the factions in the domestic quarrels of the Sicilians.3