2. K. Fabius
Vibulanus, K. F., brother of the preceding, was quaestor parricidii in B. C. 485, and along with his colleague L. Valerius accused Sp. Cassius Viscellinus, who was in consequence condemned by the votes of the populus. Although the name of the Fabii had become hateful to the plebeians in consequence of Q. Fabius, who was consul this year, depriving the soldiers of the booty they had gained in the war, nevertheless the patricians carried the election of K. Fabius, who was accordingly consul in the following year B. C. 484 with L. Aemilius Mamercus. Kaeso took an active part with his colleague in opposing the agrarian law, which the tribunes of the people attempted to bring forward.
According to Dionysius Kaeso came to the assistance of his colleague, who had been defeated by the Volsci, but Livy says nothing of Kaeso, and represents Mamercus as conquering the Volsci. (Liv. 2.41
; Dionys. A. R. 8.77
, foil., 8.82-86.) Niebuhr supposes that a great change in the constitution was effected on the election of K. Fabius and his colleague to the consulship.
He maintains that the election of the consuls was then transferred from the Comitia Centuriata to the Comitia Curiata, and that the choice of the latter assembly was only ratified by the former.
He further supposes that a compromise took place three years afterwards, B. C. 482, in virtue of which the centuriae had the election of one consul and the curiae of the other, and that this continued to be the practice till the decemvirate. (His. of Rome,
vol. ii. p. 177, foll.) Our limits do not permit us to go to an investigation of this point, and we can only remark that Niebuhr's view is supported by no positive testimony, and has been rejected by most subsequent scholars. (Göttling, Römische Staatsverfassung,
p. 308 ; Becker, Handbuch der Römischen Alterthümer,
vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 93.)
There can be little doubt that the consuls were at all times, without exception, elected by the comitia centuriata; and there is no difficulty in understanding how the patricians were able to carry the elections of their own candidates at these comitia. (Comp. Becker, ibid.
p. 12, note 19.)
In B. C. 481 K. Fabius was consul a second time with Sp. Furius Medullinus Fuscus.
At the beginning of his consulship he opposed the attempts of the tribune Sp. Icilius (Licinius), who endeavoured to carry an agrarian law by preventing the consuls from levying troops against the Veientes and Aequi, who had taken up arms and made an inroad into the Roman territory. Icilius was likewise opposed by his own colleagues, and thus the troops were inrolled, and K. Fabius marched against the Veientes. (The common editions of Livy have (exercitus) ducendus Fabio in Aequos,
but the MSS. have in Veientes,
and this in accordance with Dionysius and Zonaras.) Fabius conducted the war with success, and put the enemy to the rout with his cavalry alone; but when he commanded his infantry to pursue the defeated army, they refused obedience to his orders, on account of his opposition to the agrarian law, and returned to their camp, which they soon afterwards deserted, to the astonishment of the enemy. (Liv. 2.43
; Dionys. A. R. 9.1
, foil.; Zonar. 7.17
; V. Max. 9.3.5
In the following year, B. C. 480, he again fought against the Veientes, serving under his brother Marcus, who was then consul, and his colleague Cn. Manlius Cincinnatus.
The soldiers were still indisposed to obey the commands of a Fabius, but the dangers of their situation and the scoffs of the enemy turned their purpose, and they demanded to be led forth against the foe. On that day the Fabii were an example to the whole army. Quintus, who had been consul two years before, fell in the hottest of the fight; but his brothers Kaeso and the consul Marcus rushed forth to the front, and by their heroic bravery so fired the courage of their soldiers that the enemy were turned to flight.
The bravery of the Fabii in this battle won the hearts of the soldiers, and they still further gained their love by the attention which they paid to the wounded, whom they divided among the dwellings of the patricians : their own house took the greater number. The Fabii had been hitherto the champions of the patricians, but they now resolved to espouse the cause of the plebeians, and secure for them the rights which they had so long taken an active part in resisting.
The real reasons of their change it is impossible to determine, with the deficient information which has come down to us, but of the fact there can be no doubt. (Liv. 2.46
; Dionys. A. R. 9.11
In B. C. 479 Kaeso was consul a third time with T. Virginius Tricostus Rutilus.
As soon as he entered upon his consulship, he gave a proof that his house was sincere in their professions of reconciliation to the commonalty; for he called upon the patricians to divide the conquered land among the plebeians, before any tribune should bring forward an agrarian law.
But powerful as the Fabii were, they could not induce the rest of the patricians to listen to their advice : on the contrary, they were regarded as traitors to their order, and Kaeso was told by them that his recent glory had intoxicated his mind.
The plebeians were all the more anxious to do him honour. They flocked to his standard when he marched against the Aequi, and served under him with the greatest zeal. The Aequi retreated before him into their towns; and after devastating their territory, he returned just in time to save the army of his colleague, which was surrounded by the Veientes, and in great peril.
After this campaign Kaeso renewed his conciliatory propositions, but as they were still rejected with scorn, he and his house resolved to quit Rome altogether, where they were regarded as apostates by their own order. They determined to found a settlement on the banks of the Cremera, a small stream that falls into the Tiber a few miles above Rome.
According to the legend, the consul Kaeso went before the senate and said, that the Fabii were willing to carry on the war against the Veientes, alone and at their own cost. Their offer was joyfully accepted, for the patricians were glad to see them expose themselves voluntarily to such dangers.
The departure of the Fabii from the city was celebrated in Roman story. On the day after Kaeso had made the proposal to the senate, 306 Fabii, all patricians of one gens, assembled on the Quirinal at the house of Kaeso, and from thence marched with the consul at their head through the Carmental gate. They proceeded straight to the banks of the Cremera, where they erected a fortress. Livy and the writers who follow him speak of the 306 patrician Fabii as departing alone to the Cremera; but other authorities with more probability represent them as accompanied by their wives, children and clients.
The latter were undoubtedly very numerous; and Dionysius says that the Fabii with their dependants amounted to 4000 persons.
It seems nearly evident, as has been already stated, that the Fabii intended to form a settlement, which might become a powerful Latin town on the borders of the Etruscan territory; and that they ought not to be regarded as simply an advanced guard occupying a fort in the enemy's territory, for the purpose of ravaging the country. Even if it had not been stated that the Fabii had left Rome with their families and clients, it might fairly have been inferred from the unanimous tradition that only one of the family, who had remained at Rome, survived the entire destruction of the gens.
As soon as the Fabii had fortified their settlement on the Cremera, they commenced their inroads and continued to lay waste the Veientine territory without cessation. The Veientes collected a powerful army from the Etruscan states and besieged the fortress, but the Romans sent an army to their relief under the command of the consul L. Aemilius Mamercus, who defeated the Etruscans, B. C. 478. Thereupon a truce was concluded for a year; but at its expiration the Etruscans again took up arms, and the Fabii were all destroyed in the consulship of C. Horatius Pulvillus and T. Menenius Lanatus, B. C. 477.
The manner of their death is variously related by the ancient writers.
According to one tradition, preserved but rejected by Dionysius, the Fabii set out from the Cremera on a certain day in order to offer up a sacrifice in their sanctuary on the Quirinal at Rome : trusting to the sanctity of their mission, they went without arms, as in a time of peace, but on their road they were attacked by a great army which had been placed in ambush and perished by the darts of the enemy, for although unarmed none of the Etruscans dared come near the heroes.
According to another tradition the Fabii, who had repeatedly gained victories in the open field, were enticed to follow some cattle, which were purposely driven under a weak escort into the mountains, and they thus fell into an ambush, where many thousand men had been placed. Although scattered when the enemy attacked them, the Fabii made an heroic resistance and only fell after a long struggle overwhelmed by superior numbers.
This account of the death of the Fabii has been followed by Dionysius who has worked up the tale in his usual manner, as well as by Livy, Ovid, and other ancient writers.
The fortress on the Cremera must have been taken immediately afterwards, and the whole of the settlement have been put to the sword.
In whatever way the Fabii may have perished, it seems clear that they might have been saved, for the consul Menenius Lanatus was in the neighbourhood with an army, and was condemned in the following year as the guilty cause of the disaster. [LANATUS, No. 2.] (Liv. 2.48
; Dionys. A. R. 9.14
; Gel. 17.21
; Ov. Fast. 2.195
, foll.; Dio Cass. Fragm.
No. 26, ed. Reim.; Festus, s. v. Scelerata porta.
) Ovid says (l.c.
) that the Fabii perished on the Ides of February; but all other authorities state that they were destroyed on the day on which the Romans were subsequently conquered by the Gauls at the Allia, that is, on the fifteenth before the Kalends of Sextilis, June the 18th (Liv. 6.1
; Tac. Hist. 2.91
; Plut. Camill.
19) : hence Niebuhr supposes that Ovid mistook the day of their departure for that of their destruction (Hist. of Rome,
vol. ii. note 441).
It is unanimously stated by the ancient writers that all the Fabii perished at the Cremera with the exception of one individual, the son of Marcus, from whom all the later members of the gens were descended.
The same accounts relate that he was left behind at Rome on account of his youth; but this could not have been the reason, if we are correct in the supposition that the Fabii migrated from the city with all their families, and it is moreover refuted by the fact that this Fabius was consul ten years afterwards, From the fact of his being raised to the consulship, and from the opposition which he then offered to the tribunes, it is probable, as Niebuhr supposes, that he maintained the former opinions of his gens, when the latter changed their sentiments and refused to leave Rome with them. (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. ii. p. 194.)