Before this battle took place the Samnites would have been joined by the Apulians had not the consul Decius anticipated their action by fixing his camp at Maleventum.
He drew them into an engagement and routed them, and in this battle also there were more who escaped by flight than were slain; these amounted to 2000. Without troubling himself further about the Apulians, Decius led his army into Samnium.
There the two consular armies spent five months in ravaging and desolating the country.
There were forty-five different places in Samnium where Decius at one time or another had fixed his camp; in the case of the other consul there were eightysix.
Nor were the only traces left those of ramparts and fosses, more conspicuous still were those which attested the devastation and depopulation of all the country round.
Fabius also captured the city of Cimetra, where 2900 became prisoners of war, 830 having been killed during the assault.
After this he returned to Rome for the elections and arranged for them to be held at an early date. The centuries who voted first declared without exception for Fabius. Amongst the candidates was the energetic and ambitious Appius Claudius.
Anxious to secure the honour for himself, he was quite as anxious that both posts should be held by patricians, and he brought his utmost influence, supported by the whole of the nobility, to bear upon the electors so that they might return him together with Fabius.
At the outset Fabius refused, and alleged the same grounds for his refusal as he had alleged the year before. Then all the nobles crowded round his chair and begged him to extricate the consulship from the plebeian mire and restore both to the office itself and to the patrician houses the august dignity which they possessed of old.
As soon as he could obtain silence he addressed them in terms which calmed their excitement. He would, he said, have arranged to admit votes for two patricians if he saw that any one else than himself was
being elected, but as matters were he would not allow his name to stand, since it would be against the law and form a most dangerous precedent.
So L. Volumnius, a plebeian, was elected together with Appius Claudius; they had already been associated in a previous consulship. The nobles taunted Fabius and said that he refused to have Appius Claudius as a colleague because he was unquestionably his inferior in eloquence and state-craft.