But before these envoys could return from1
Delphi or an expiation be devised for the Alban [p. 57]
portent, new military tribunes with consular authority2
came in; these were Lucius Julius lulus,3
Lucius Furius Medullinus (for the fourth time), Lucius Sergius Fidenas, Aulus Postumius Regillensis, Publius Cornelius Maluginensis, and Aulus Manlius.4
In that year a new enemy arose in the Tarquinienses, who seeing the Romans beset with many wars at once, —against the Volsci, who were laying siege to the garrison at Anxur, against the Aequi, who were attacking the Roman colony at Labici, and also against the men of Veii, of Falerii, and of Capena, — and perceiving that affairs within the City were no less troubled, owing to contentions betwixt the patricians and the plebs, believed that in these circumstances they had an opportunity to do the Romans a hurt, and sent out light-armed detachments to raid their territory;
for they thought that either the Romans would put up with the wrong, to avoid the burden of another war, or would take the field with a small and therefore inadequate army.
The indignation of the Romans was greater than their concern for the damage wrought by the Tarquinienses; so they neither made strenuous efforts to prepare, nor deferred taking action to a distant date.
Aulus Postumius and Lucius Iulus, without holding a regular levy —for this the plebeian tribunes hindered —but with a company consisting almost solely of volunteers whom they had induced to join by their exhortations, marched out by cross-country ways through the territory of Caere, and surprised the Tarquinienses as they were returning from their depradations laden with booty.
Many men they slew, all they stripped of their baggage; and having recovered the spoils of their own fields, [p. 59]
returned to Rome.
Two days were allowed the5
owners to identify their property; on the third all that had not been recognized —chiefly things belonging to the enemy themselves —was sold under the spear6
and the proceeds divided amongst the soldiers.
The other campaigns, especially the one at Veii, were indecisive. And now the Romans, despairing of human aid, were looking to destiny and the gods, when the deputies returned from Delphi, bringing the oracle's response, which corresponded with the utterance of the captive seer:
“Roman, see that thou suffer not the Alban water to be confined within the lake, nor to fret its own channel to the sea; thou shalt draw it forth and water the fields withal, and spread it abroad till it be lost in rivulets;
after that press boldly on against the walls of the foe, and know that over that city which thou dost beleaguer for so many years, the fates now disclosed have given thee the victory.
When thou hast ended the war with conquest, bring to my temple an ample gift, and repeat and accomplish in customary wise the ancestral rites thou hast neglected.”