in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius1
Saverrio and Publius Sempronius Sophus, the Samnites, whether seeking to end or only to postpone hostilities, sent envoys to Rome to treat for peace.
to their humble supplications the answer was returned, that if the Samnites had not frequently sought peace while preparing for war, a treaty could have been arranged by mutual discussion: as it was, since words had hitherto proved of no effect, the Romans must needs take their stand on facts.
Publius Sempronius, the consul, would shortly be in Samnium with an army; he was one whom they would be unable to deceive as to whether their hearts inclined to peace or war; after a thorough investigation he would report his findings to the senate; and on his leaving Samnium their envoys might attend him.
The Roman army marched all over Samnium; the people were peaceable and furnished the army liberally with supplies; accordingly their ancient treaty was in that year restored again to the Samnites.2
The arms of Rome were then directed against the Aequi, who had been her enemies of old, but for many years past had remained quiet,3
under colour of a peace which they observed but treacherously.
The reason for making war on them was as follows: before the overthrow of the Hernici they had repeatedly joined with them in sending assistance to the Samnites,4
and after the subjugation of the Hernici, almost the entire nation had gone over to the enemy, without attempting to disguise their policy;
and when fetials had applied to them for reparation,5
after the adoption of the Samnite treaty at Rome, they had persistently asserted that the Romans were attempting under threats of war to intimidate them into becoming Roman citizens; and how little that was a thing to be desired had
been shown, they said, by the Hernici, since those who had been permitted to do so had chosen their own laws in preference to Roman citizenship, while those who had not been given an option were to have citizenship thrust upon them as a punishment.6
because of such expressions, publicly uttered in their assemblies, the Roman People decreed that war should be made upon the Aequi.
both consuls set out for the new seat of operations, and took up a position four miles from the enemy's camp.
The army of the Aequi, who for many years had made no war on their own account,7
like a hastily levied militia, under no definite commanders and subject to no supreme authority, were in a state of panic. some were for offering battle, others for defending
the camp. The consideration that affected most of them was the devastation which their farms would suffer and the subsequent destruction of their cities, which they had left
inadequately garrisoned. and so when a proposal was heard —amongst many others —which disregarded the common welfare and made every one think of his own interest, to wit, that in the first watch they should leave the camp, and going their several ways,
carry off all their possessions from the fields and defend their cities by means of their walls, they all with loud acclaim adopted it. The enemy were scattered over the countryside when at break of day the Romans came [p. 349]
out and formed in order of battle, and encountering8
nobody, advanced at a quick pace towards the
Aequian camp. but not perceiving any outposts before the gates or anybody on the rampart, and missing the usual noises of a camp, they were troubled by the unaccustomed silence, and apprehending an
ambush, halted. later, when they had scaled the rampart and found everything deserted, they attempted to follow the enemy by his tracks; but the tracks, which led in all directions —as they would when an army had dispersed —at first
bewildered them. afterwards they found out through their scouts what the enemy designed to do; and attacking his cities in succession, one after another, they captured thirty —one of them within fifty days, in every instance by assault. of these the greater number were dismantled and burnt, and the Aequian name was almost
blotted out. a triumph was celebrated over the Aequi; and warned by the example of their downfall, the Marrucini, Marsi, Paeligni, and Frentani sent ambassadors to Rome to sue for peace and friendship. These nations, at their request, were granted a treaty of alliance.