Meantime it was determined that the military tribunes should lead the army into the country of the Volsci; only Gnaeus Cornelius was left in Rome.
The three tribunes, on its appearing that the Volsci had no camp anywhere and did not propose to risk a battle, divided their army into three and advanced in different directions to lay waste the country.
Valerius marched upon Antium, Cornelius against Ecetrae, and wherever they went they plundered farms and buildings far and wide, to divide the forces of the Volsci; Fabius led his troops to Anxur, the principal object of their attack, and laid siege to it, without doing any pillaging.
Anxur, the Tarracinae of our day,1
was a city which sloped down towards the marshes.
On this side Fabius threatened an assault, while four cohorts [p. 451]
marched round under Gaius Servilius Ahala, and2
seizing the hill which overhangs the city, assailed the walls from this superior position, where there was no force to oppose them, with great noise and confusion.
Hearing the din, the soldiers who were defending the lowest part of the town against Fabius were bewildered, and permitted him to bring up scaling-ladders; and soon the whole place was alive with enemies, who for a long time gave no quarter, slaughtering without distinction those who fled and those who resisted, the armed and the unarmed.
And so the vanquished, since they could hope for no mercy if they yielded, were compelled to fight; when suddenly the command was given that none should be hurt but those who carried weapons. Thereupon, all the survivors voluntarily laid down their arms, and about twenty-five hundred of them were taken alive.
Fabius made his soldiers leave the rest of the spoils until his colleagues could
come up, saying that their armies had helped to capture Anxur by diverting the rest of the Volsci from the defence of that place.
When they arrived, the three armies sacked the town, which long years of prosperity had filled with riches. It was this generous treatment on the part of their commanders which first reconciled the plebs to the patricians.
In addition to this the senate then granted the people the most seasonable boon which has ever been bestowed on them by the chiefs of the state, when they decreed, without waiting for any suggestion by the plebs or their tribunes, that the soldiers should be paid from the public treasury, whereas till then every man had served at his own costs.