It was determined not to make a general levy on the entire people, but ten tribes were chosen by lot. From these the two tribunes enrolled the men of military age and led them to war.
The bickerings which had commenced between them in the City grew much hotter in the camp, from the same eagerness to command; they could not agree on anything; each strove for his own opinion; each desired his own plans and his own orders to be the [p. 407]
only valid ones;
each despised the other and was1
in turn despised by him, until at last, reproved by their lieutenants, they arranged to exercise the supreme command on alternate days.
When the report of this reached Rome, it is said that Quintus Servilius, taught by years and experience, besought the immortal gods that the strife between the tribunes might not result more disastrously to the republic than had been the case at Veii, and as though certain defeat were imminent, urged his son to enlist soldiers and make ready arms.
Nor was he a false prophet. For under the leadership of Lucius Sergius, whose day it was to command, the Romans found themselves in an unfavourable position close to the enemy's camp, whither they had been drawn, when the Aequi feigned fear and retired to their rampart, by the vain hope of capturing it; and there they were suddenly attacked by the Aequi and driven pellmell down a sloping valley, where many of them, as they rather tumbled down than retreated, were overtaken and put to the sword.
That day they defended their camp with difficulty, and on the next, when the enemy had almost surrounded it, they abandoned it by a disgraceful flight through the opposite gate.
The generals and their lieutenants and such of the army's strength as kept to the standards made for Tusculum: the others, scattering through the fields, this way and that, hastened to Rome by divers roads and reported a much heavier defeat than had been sustained.
There was the less dismay for the reason that the event had tallied with men's apprehensions, and because reserves which they could look to in the hour of danger had been made ready by the tribune [p. 409]
of the soldiers.
It was by his orders too that the2
lesser magistrates had quieted the confusion in the City, when the scouts whom he had hurriedly sent out reported that the generals and the army were at Tusculum, and that the enemy had not broken camp.
And —what raised men's courage most — Quintus Servilius Priscus was in consequence of a senatorial decree named dictator —a man whose clear vision in public affairs the state had proved on many previous occasions, but particularly in the outcome of this war, because he alone had viewed the quarrel of the tribunes with anxiety, before their defeat.
Having appointed his son, by whom, when military tribune, he had himself been pronounced dictator, to be master of the horse, —as
some authorities have recorded; for others write that Servilius Ahala was master of the horse that year, —he set out with a fresh army for the war, sent for the troops which were at Tusculum, and fixed his camp two miles from the enemy.