At the voting for military tribunes, the1
senators with much ado obtained the election of Marcus Furius Camillus.2
The need of a commander for the wars was their pretext, but what they really wanted was a man who would combat the lavishness of the tribunes.3
With Camillus were elected to that office, Lucius Furius Medullinus (for the sixth time), Gaius Aemilius, Lucius Valerius Publicola, Spurius Postumius, and (for the second time) Publius Cornelius.4
At the outset of the year the tribunes of the commons made no move, until Marcus Furius [p. 91]
Camillus should march against the Faliscans, for to5
him this war had been committed. Then came delays, and men's enthusiasm waned, while Camillus, the opponent whom they chiefly feared, won fresh renown in the Faliscan country.
For though at first the enemy kept within their walls, deeming this their safest course, he compelled them, by ravaging their fields and burning their farm-houses, to come out of their city.
Still, they were afraid to advance very far, and pitched their camp about a mile from the town, trusting that it was quite safe, without other reason than the difficulty of approaching it; for the ground about it was rough and broken, and the roads were either narrow or steep.
But Camillus, employing a prisoner taken in that very region for his guide, broke camp in the dead of night, and showed himself at earliest dawn in a considerably superior position. The Romans, divided into three shifts, began to build a rampart, the soldiers who were not working standing by in readiness to fight.
There, when the enemy sought to hinder the work, he defeated and routed them; and so great was the panic that came over the Faliscans, that they fled in disorder past their camp, which was the nearer refuge, and made for the town; and many were slain or wounded, before, in their terror, they could rush in through the gates.
The camp was taken, and the booty was paid over to the quaestors. This incensed the troops, but they were overborne by the strictness of the discipline, and admired, while they detested, their general's probity.
Then came a blockade of the town, and the construction of siege works; and sometimes, when opportunity offered, the townsfolk would raid the Roman outposts and [p. 93]
skirmishes would ensue.
Time wore on, without6
bringing hope to either side; the besieged had corn and other supplies, which they had laid up beforehand in greater abundance than the besiegers; and it began to seem as though the struggle would be as long drawn out as at Veii, had not Fortune, at one stroke, given the Roman general an opportunity to display the magnanimity already familiar from his exploits in war, and an early victory.