It was a year remarkable, thanks to the good1
fortune of the Roman People, for a great danger but not a disaster. The slaves conspired to set fire to the City at points remote from one another, and, while the people should be busy everywhere with rescuing their houses, to seize the Citadel and the Capitol with an armed force.
Jupiter brought their wicked schemes to naught, and on the evidence of two of their number the guilty were arrested and punished.
Each informant was rewarded from the public treasury with ten thousand pounds of bronze —which passed for wealth in those days —and with freedom.
The Aequi then began to prepare again for war; and word was brought to Rome on good authority that new enemies, the Labicani, were making common cause with the old ones.
As for the Aequi, the citizens had by now grown accustomed to war with them, as to an annual occurrence; but they dispatched envoys to Labici, and having got them back with an ambiguous answer, from which it appeared that though war was not as yet being organized, yet peace would not long continue, they commissioned the Tusculans to watch that no fresh outbreak should occur at that place.
To the military tribunes with consular authority2
who held office the ensuing year, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, Marcus Papirius Mugillanus, and Gaius Servilius, son of the Priscus who as dictator had captured Fidenae, there came,
just as they had entered on their magistracy, ambassadors from Tusculum, who announced that the Labicani had armed and, after devastating the Tusculan countryside in company with an Aequian army, had encamped on Algidus.
Thereupon war was declared against the Labicani, and the senate resolved that two of the tribunes should proceed to the front, while one attended to matters in Rome. At this a dispute immediately broke out amongst the tribunes, each of whom boasted of his superiority as a general and spurned the care of the City as a thankless and ignoble task.
While the astonished senators watched this unseemly rivalry amongst the colleagues, Quintus Servilius exclaimed, “Since you have no respect for this order nor for the republic, a father's authority shall end your quarrel. My son shall preside over the City, without recourse to lots. I only hope that those who are eager to make the campaign may conduct it with more consideration and harmony than they display in seeking it.”