The command in Etruria fell by lot to Titus1
Manlius the consul. he had barely entered the [p. 397]
territory of the enemy, and was exercising with the2
cavalry, when, in wheeling his horse about after a swift gallop, he was thrown
and ere long breathed his last, for the third day following the accident saw the end of the consul's life. taking this as an omen of the war, and declaring that the gods had begun hostilities in their behalf, the Etruscans plucked up courage.
it was sad news to the Romans; not only could they ill spare the man, but his death occurred at an embarrassing moment.
The Fathers would have ordered the nomination of a dictator had not the election held to choose a substitute for the consul fallen out in accordance with the wishes of the leaders. Marcus Valerius was the choice of all the centuries for consul.
it was he whom the senate had intended to have named as dictator, and they now commanded him to proceed forthwith to the legions in Etruria.
his arrival so damped the ardour of the Etruscans that none ventured outside their fortifications, and their own fear was like a besieging host. nor could the new consul entice them into giving battle by wasting their lands and firing their buildings, though the smoke was rising on every side from the conflagration not only of farm —houses but of many villages as well.
while this war was prolonged beyond anticipation, another war —justly dreaded by reason of the many losses which the parties to it had inflicted on each other —was beginning to be talked of in consequence of information given by the Picentes, Rome's new allies.
The Samnites, they said, were looking to arms and a renewal of hostilities, and had solicited their help.
The Picentes were thanked, and the senate's anxiety was diverted, in great measure, from Etruria to the Samnites. [p. 399]
The citizens were also concerned at the dearness3
of provisions, and would have experienced the direst need, as those writers have recorded who are pleased to represent Fabius Maximus as having been aedile in that year, if that heroic man, who had on many occasions managed military undertakings, had not at this juncture shown himself equally expert in the administration of the market and the purchase and importation of corn.4
in this year —for no cause assigned —there befell an interregnum. The interreges were Appius Claudius, and afterwards Publius Sulpicius. The latter held a consular election, and announced that the choice had fallen on Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Fulvius.
in the beginning of this year Lucanian envoys came to the new consuls to complain that the Samnites, since they had been unable by offering inducements to entice them into an armed alliance, had invaded their territories with a hostile army and by warring on them were obliging them to go to war.
The people of Lucania, they said, had on a former occasion strayed all too far from the path of duty, but were now so resolute as to deem it better to endure and suffer anything than ever again to offend the Romans.5
they besought the Fathers both to take the Lucanians under their protection and to defend them from the violence and oppression of the Samnites. though their having gone to war with the Etruscans was necessarily a pledge of loyalty to the Romans, yet they were none the less ready to give hostages.