The consuls having entered the Campanian territory, while devastating the country on all sides, were alarmed, and thrown into confusion, by an eruption of the townsmen and Mago with his cavalry. They called in their troops to their standards from the several quarters to which they were dispersed, but having been routed when they had scarcely formed their line, they lost above fifteen hundred men.
The confidence of the Campanians, who were naturally presumptuous, became excessive in consequence of this event, and in many battles they challenged the Romans; but this one battle, which they had been incautiously and imprudently drawn into, had increased the vigilance of the consuls.
Their spirits were restored, while the presumption of the other party was diminished, by one trifling occurrence; but in war nothing is so inconsiderable as not to be capable, sometimes, of producing important consequences.
Titus Quinctius Crispinus was a guest of Badius, a Campanian, united with him by the greatest intimacy. Their acquaintance had increased from the circumstance of Badius having received the most liberal and kind attentions at the house of Crispinus, in a fit of illness, at Rome, before the Campanian revolt.
On the present occasion, Badius, advancing in front of the guards, which were stationed before the gate, desired Crispinus to be called; and Crispinus, on being informed of this, thinking that a friendly and familiar interview was requested, and the memory of their private connexion remaining even amidst the disruption of public ties, advanced a little from the rest.
When they had come within view of each other, Badius exclaimed, “I challenge you to combat, Crispinus; let us mount our horses, and making the rest withdraw, let us try which is the better soldier.”
In reply, Crispinus said, that “neither of them were in want of enemies to display their valour upon; for his own part, even if he should meet him in the field he would turn aside, lest he should pollute his right-hand with the blood of a guest;” and then turning round, was going away.
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Campanian, with increased presumption, began to charge him with cowardice and effeminacy, and cast upon him reproaches which he deserved himself, calling him “an enemy who sheltered himself under the title of host, and one who pretended to spare him for whom he knew himself not to be a match.
If he considered, that when public treaties were broken, the ties of private connexion were not severed with them, then Badius the Campanian openly, and in the hearing of both armies, renounced his connexion of hospitality with Titus Quinctius Crispinus the Roman.
He said, that there could exist no fellowship or alliance with him and an enemy whose country and tutelary gods, both public and private, he had come to fight against. If he was a man, he would meet him.”
Crispinus hesitated for a long time; but the men of his troop at length prevailed upon him not to allow the Campanian to insult him with impunity.
Waiting, therefore, only to ask his generals whether they would allow him to fight, contrary to rule, with an enemy who had challenged him; having obtained their permission, he mounted his horse, and addressing Badius by name, called him out to the combat. The Campanian made no delay.
They engaged with their horses excited to hostility. Crispinus transfixed Badius with his spear in the left shoulder, over his shield. He fell from his horse in consequence of the wound; and Crispinus leaped down to despatch him as he lay, on foot.
But Badius, before his enemy was upon him, ran off to his friends, leaving his horse and buckler.
Crispinus, decorated with the spoils, and displaying the horse and arms which he had seized together with the bloody spear, was conducted amid the loud plaudits and congratulations of the soldiery into the presence of the consuls, where he was highly commended, and was presented with gifts.