in recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Fabius was continued in the consulship, and was given Decius for his colleague.
Valerius was for the fourth time chosen praetor.
The consuls cast lots for the commands, Etruria falling to Decius and Samnium to Fabius. The latter marched against Nuceria Alfaterna, and rejecting that city's overtures of peace because its people had declined it when it was offered them, laid siege to the place and forced it to surrender.
a battle was fought with the Samnites, in which the enemy were defeated without much difficulty, nor would the engagement have been remembered but for the fact that it was the first time that the Marsi had made war against the Romans.1
The Paeligni imitated the defection of the Marsi, and met with the same fate.
Decius, the other consul, was also successful in war.
when he had frightened the Tarquinienses into furnishing corn for the army and seeking a truce for forty years, he captured by storm a number of strongholds belonging to the people of Volsinii.
some of these he dismantled, lest they should serve as a refuge for the enemy, and by devastating far and wide he made himself so feared that all who [p. 327]
bore the Etruscan name begged the consul to grant2
them a treaty. this privilege they were denied, but a truce for a year was granted them.
they were required to furnish the Roman army with a year's pay and two tunics for each soldier; such was the price they paid for a truce.
The tranquillity which now obtained in Etruria was disturbed by a sudden revolt of the Umbrians, a people which had escaped all the distress of war, except that an army had passed through their territory.3
calling up all their fighting men, and inducing great part of the Etruscans to rebel, they mustered so large an army, that they boasted, with much glorifying of themselves and fleering at the Romans, that they would leave Decius behind them in Etruria and march off to the assault of Rome.
when this purpose of theirs was reported to the consul Decius, he hastened by forced marches from Etruria towards the City, and encamped in the fields belonging to Pupinia,4
eagerly waiting for word of their approach.
at Rome no one made light of an Umbrian invasion. their very threats had excited fear in those who had learnt from the Gallic disaster how unsafe was the City they inhabited.
accordingly envoys were dispatched to carry word to Fabius the consul, that if there were any slackening in the Samnite war he should with all speed lead his army into Umbria.
The consul obeyed the order, and advanced by long marches to Mevania,5
where the forces of the Umbrians at that time lay.
The sudden arrival of the consul, whom they had believed to have his hands full with another war in Samnium, a long way from Umbria, so dismayed the Umbrians that some were for falling back on their [p. 329]
fortified cities, and others for giving up the war;6
but one canton —which
they themselves call Materina —not only kept the rest to their arms, but brought them to an immediate engagement.
Fabius was entrenching his camp when they attacked him. as soon as he saw them rushing madly upon his ramparts, he recalled the soldiers from their work and drew them up, as time and the nature of the ground permitted, and encouraging them with a true relation of the honours they had won, some in Etruria and some in Samnium, bade them end this trivial sequel to the Etruscan war, and revenge upon the foe his impious threat that he would assault the City of Rome.
These words were received by the soldiers with such alacrity that the speech of the general was interrupted by a spontaneous cheer. then, before the command could be given, they hurled themselves —to the blare of horns and trumpets —with the wildest abandon against the enemy.
they fought not as though their opponents had been men and armed; but —marvellous to relate -began with tearing the standards out of the bearers' hands, and then fell to dragging the bearers themselves before the consul and to bringing armed men over from the other line to their own; wherever they met with resistance, they did their work more with shields than with swords, swinging them from the shoulder and knocking down their enemies with the bosses.
The slain were outnumbered by the prisoners, and all along the battle line one cry was heard: that they should lay down their arms.
and so, while the battle was still going on, the surrender was made, by the men who had first advocated war. on the next and on succeeding [p. 331]
days the other peoples of Umbria also capitulated:7
the men of Ocriculum were received into friendship under a stipulation.