An effort was made in the City by the B.C. tribunes of the plebs to procure the election of military tribunes with consular powers, but it was unsuccessful. Lucius Papirius Crassus1
and Lucius Julius were chosen consuls. The Aequi, through their envoys, sought a treaty from the senate.
Instead of granting a treaty, the senate suggested that they surrender; but they asked and obtained a truce for eight years. The Volscian commonwealth, in addition to the disaster it had suffered on Algidus, had become involved in quarrels and seditions, in consequence of an obstinate struggle between the advocates of peace and those of war.
The Romans everywhere enjoyed peace. A law concerning the [p. 355]
valuation of fines was most welcome to the people.2
Having learned through the treachery of a member of the college that the tribunes were drawing one up, the consuls anticipated their action and themselves proposed it.3
The next consuls were Lucius Sergius Fidenas (for the second time) and Hostius Lucretius Tricipitinus.
Nothing noteworthy was done this year. They were succeeded in the consulship by Aulus Cornelius Cossus and Titus Quinctius Poenus, who was elected for the second time.
The Veientes made inroads into Roman territory. It was rumoured that certain young men of Fidenae had shared in the pillaging. The investigation of this report was intrusted to Lucius Sergius, Quintus Servilius, and Mamercus Aemilius; and certain men were banished to Ostia, because it was not clear why they had been away from Fidenae during those days.
A number of settlers were added to the colony, and land was assigned them which had belonged to men who had fallen in the war.
A drought that year caused great suffering. Not only did the skies provide too little rain, but the earth as well was deficient in native moisture and could hardly supply the perennial streams.
In some cases the failure of the sources caused the dry springs and brooks to be lined with cattle perishing of thirst; others were carried off by a mange, and their diseases were by contact communicated to mankind. At first they attacked country people and slaves; then the City was infected.
And not only were men's bodies smitten by the plague, but a horde of superstitions, mostly foreign, took possession of their minds, as the class of men who find their profit in superstition-ridden souls [p. 357]
introduced strange sacrificial rites into their homes,4
pretending to be seers;
until the public shame finally reached the leading citizens, as they beheld in every street and chapel outlandish and unfamiliar sacrifices being offered up to appease Heaven's anger.
The aediles were then commissioned to see to it that none but Roman gods should be worshipped, nor in any but the ancestral way.
Revenge on the men of Veii was postponed till the following year, when Gaius Servilius Ahala and Lucius Papirius Mugillanus were consuls.
Even then a religious scruple prevented the immediate declaration of war and dispatch of armies; they resolved that fetials must first be sent to require restitution.
Not long before there had been a battle with the Veientes near Nomentum and Fidenae, and this had been followed not by peace but by a truce. Its time had now run out, and indeed the enemy had begun to fight again before its expiration; nevertheless fetials were sent; yet their words, when they sought reparation after taking the customary oath,5
were not attended to.
A dispute then arose whether war should be declared by command of the people, or whether a senatorial decree was enough.6
The tribunes prevailed, by threatening to hinder the levy, and forced the consul Quinctius to refer the question of war to the people.
All the centuries voted for it. In this respect also the plebs had the better, that they made good their wish that consuls should not be elected for the following year.