Publilius the consul was ready to engage them, but thinking it best to encourage his soldiers first, he bade summon them to an assembly. but though they came running to the praetorium with vast alacrity, yet the outcry of those who demanded battle was so loud that the general's exhortation could not be heard; still, every man's own heart, remembering the late humiliation, was there to exhort him.
so they went forward into battle, urging on their standard —bearers; and, that there might be no delay in coming to grips while they were discharging their javelins and drawing their swords, they threw away their javelins, as if a signal had been given them, and, sword
in hand, pushed forward at the double against the enemy.
no tactical skill was there employed in ranging centuries or reserves: the wrath of the soldiers swept everything along in its mad rush. and so not only were the Samnites routed, but not daring to interrupt their flight even at their camp, they dispersed and struck out for Apulia; yet they afterwards rallied again and came to Luceria in one body.
The same fury that took the Romans through their enemy's battle —line, carried them also into his camp. there was more bloodshed and carnage there than in the battle, and the greater part of the booty was destroyed in anger.
The other army, under the consul Papirius, marching along the coast as far as Arpi, had found all peaceably disposed, more because of the wrongs done by the Samnites and the hatred they had engendered than owing to any favour shown by the [p. 211]
for the Samnites, who in those1
days dwelt in villages among the mountains, used to ravage the regions of the plain and coast, despising their cultivators, who were of a softer character, and one that —as often happens —resembled their country, while they themselves were rude highlanders.
if this district had been faithful to the Samnites, it would either have been impossible for a Roman army to have got as far as Arpi, or the utterly barren nature of the intervening country would have destroyed them, cut off as they would have been from their supplies.
even as it was, when they had proceeded to the vicinity of Luceria, besiegers and besieged suffered alike from scarcity of food: everything was carried up from Arpi for the Romans, but so precarious were their supplies, that while the foot —soldiers were busy with outpost —duty, guard —mounting,
and entrenching, the cavalry brought up corn for them from Arpi in leather pouches, and, now and then, encountering the enemy, were forced to throw off the corn from their horses and fight; the besieged, until the arrival of the other consul with his victorious army, had got in their provisions —and auxiliary forces too —from the mountains of the Samnites.
The coming of Publilius tightened up the lines; for, turning the siege over to his colleague, he was free to range the country —side, where he made things difficult for the supply —trains of the enemy.
The Samnites, therefore, who were encamped about Luceria, in despair of being able to endure the scarcity, if the siege continued, were obliged to gather up their forces from every quarter and give battle to Papirius.