Quintus Fabius and Gaius Julius were1
then made consuls. This year there was no less discord at home, and the menace of war was greater. The Aequi took up arms, and the Veientes even made a foray into Roman territory. During the increasing anxiety occasioned by these campaigns Caeso Fabius and Spurius Furius were elected to the consulship.
Ortona, a Latin city, was being besieged by the Aequi; while the Veientes, who by this time had their fill of rapine, were threatening to attack Rome itself.
These alarms, though they should have restrained the animosity of the plebeians, actually heightened it; and they resumed their custom of refusing service, though not of their own initiative; for it was Spurius Licinius, tribune of the plebs, who, deeming that the moment had come for forcing a land-law on the patricians by the direst necessity, had undertaken to obstruct the preparations for war.
But he drew upon his own head all the odium attaching to the tribunician office, nor did the consuls inveigh against him more fiercely than did his own colleagues, and with their help the consuls held a levy.
Armies were enlisted for two wars at the same time; the command of one, which was to invade the Aequi, was given to Fabius, while with the other Furius was to oppose the Veientes.
Against the Veientes nothing worth recording was accomplished; and in the Aequian campaign Fabius had somewhat more trouble with his fellow-Romans than with the enemy. That one man, the consul himself, preserved the state, which the army in its hatred of the consul would, so far as it was able, have betrayed.
For when the consul, besides the many other instances of good generalship which he displayed in [p. 363]
preparing for the war and in his conduct of it, had so2
drawn up the battle-line that a charge of the cavalry alone sufficed to rout the enemy's army, the foot refused to pursue the flying foe;
nor could even their own sense of guilt —to say nothing of the exhortation of their hated general, —nor even the thought of the immediate disgrace to all, and the danger they must presently incur if the enemy should recover his courage, compel them to quicken their pace, or, if nothing else, to stand in their ranks.
Contrary to orders they retreated and returned to their camp, in such dejection that you would have supposed them beaten, now uttering execrations against their leader and now against the efficient services of the horse.
Ruinous though their example was, the general found no remedy for it; so true is it that noble minds are oftener lacking in the qualities by which men govern their fellow-citizens than in those by which they conquer an enemy.
The consul returned to Rome, having purchased more hatred of his irritated and embittered soldiers than won increase in military fame. Nevertheless the Fathers held out for the retention of the consulship in the Fabian family. Marcus Fabius was the man they elected, and they gave him Gnaeus Manlius as a colleague.