The dictator, sending heralds this way and that through the streets, summoned the frightened citizens to an assembly, where he rebuked them for possessing hearts so easily dismayed by trivial fluctuations of fortune that on sustaining a slight reverse —and
that not due to the valour of the enemy or the cowardice of the Roman army, but to a disagreement among their generals —they were seized with dread of the Veientine enemy whom they had six times defeated, and of Fidenae which they had captured almost more often than they had attacked it.
Both the Romans and their enemies were the same as they had been for so many generations; they had the same courage, the same bodily vigour, the same weapons; he was himself the same dictator Mamercus Aemilius who had formerly put to flight the armies of the Veientes and the Fidenates, with the Faliscans added, before Nomentum;
and, as master of the horse, Aulus [p. 363]
Cornelius would be the same man in battle that1
he had shown himself in the former war, when as military tribune he had slain Lars Tolumnius, king of the Veientes, in full sight of both armies, and had borne the spoils of honour to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius.
Let them remember then that theirs were the triumphs, theirs the spoils, theirs the victory; while their enemies were stained with the crime of putting envoys to death against the law of nations, with the slaughter in time of peace of settlers at Fidenae, with the broken truce, with rebelling unsuccessfully for the seventh time.
Let them think of these things and arm. When once they should have pitched their camp near the camp of the enemy, he was very confident the dastardly foe would not long rejoice over the humiliation of a Roman army;
but that the Roman People would perceive how much better those men had served the state who had named him for the third time dictator, than had those who, because he had torn from the censorship its tyrannical powers, had fixed a stigma upon his second dictatorship.
Then, having offered vows to the gods, he marched out and encamped a mile and a half this side of Fidenae, protected on his right by mountains, on his left by the river Tiber.
His lieutenant Titus Quinctius Poenus he commanded to secure the mountains and secretly to occupy the ridge which lay to the enemy's rear.
On the morrow, when the Etruscans, in high feather at what, on the previous day, had been more good luck than good fighting, sallied forth to offer battle, the dictator delayed a little, till his scouts should report that Quinctius had come out [p. 365]
on the ridge near the citadel of Fidenae; and then2
forming his infantry in line of battle led them at the double against the enemy.
He directed the master of the horse not to begin to fight until he got his orders: when he required the help of the cavalry, he would himself give the signal; let him then bear himself as one mindful of his battle with a king, of his glorious offering, of Romulus and Jupiter Feretrius. The armies came together with great fury. The Romans were consumed with hatred.
“Traitors” was the name they gave the Fidenates, and “brigands” the men of Veii; they called them breakers of truces, stained with the horrid murder of ambassadors, sprinkled with the gore of their own settlers, faithless allies and cowardly enemies; and fed their rage at once with deeds and with words.