In the ensuing election of military tribunes1
with consular powers, patricians and plebeians came off alike.
Of the patricians Publius and Gaius Manlius were successful, along with Lucius Julius; the plebs returned Gaius Sextilius, Marcus Albinius, and Lucius Antistius. The Manlii were superior in birth to their plebeian colleagues, and in popularity to Julius.
To them, therefore, by special enactment, without reference to the lot or to mutual agreement, was given the command against the Volsci —an honour which they rued in the upshot, as did also the senators who had conferred it.
Without reconnoitring they sent some troops to forage, and believing them to be cut of, for they had received a false [p. 301]
report that such was the case, they hastened to2
their assistance, without so much as securing the author of the story —a Latin enemy who had deceived them in the guise of a Roman soldier, —and plunged into an ambuscade.
While they were making a stand there on unfavourable ground, by the sheer courage of the men, who were selling their lives dearly, the Roman camp which lay in the plain was attacked by the enemy on the opposite side. In both places victory was thrown away by the rashness and ignorance of the generals.
Whatever was left of the good fortune of the Roman People was saved by the pluck of the soldiers, which continued steadfast even when it lacked guidance.
On the announcement of these events at Rome, it was at first resolved to appoint a dictator; but later, when word came that things were quiet in the Volscian country, and it appeared that the enemy knew not how to use his victory and opportunity, even the armies and commanders which were there were withdrawn, and thereafter there was no trouble as far as the Volsci were concerned;
the only disturbance —towards the close of the year —was a mutiny of the Praenestini, who had stirred the peoples of Latium to revolt.
That same year new colonists were enrolled for Setia, whose inhabitants themselves were complaining of their lack of men. For the ill success of the war there was consolation in the tranquillity at home, which was due to the influence of the plebeian military tribunes and the honour in which their order held them.