And now day was appearing, and every thing lay open to view; and Fabius had made an attack with his cavalry, and the consul had sallied from the camp on the enemy now disconcerted;
when the dictator on the other side, having attacked their reserve and second line, threw his victorious troops, both horse and foot, in the way of the enemy as they turned themselves about to the dissonant shouts and the various sudden assaults.
Thus surrounded on every side, they would to a man have suffered the punishment due to their re- assumption of hostilities, had not Vectius Messius, a Volscian, a man more ennobled by his deeds than his extraction, upbraiding his men as they were forming a circle, called out with a loud voice, “Are ye about offering yourselves here to the weapons of the enemy, undefended.
unavenged? why is it then ye have arms? or why have you undertaken an offensive war, ever turbulent in peace, and dastardly in war? What hopes have you in standing here? do you expect that some god will protect you and bear you hence? With the sword way must be opened.
Come on ye, who wish to behold your homes, your parents, your wives, and your children, follow me in the way in which you shall see me lead you on. It is not a wall, not a rampart, but armed men that stand in your way with arms in your hands. In valour you are equal to them; in necessity, which is the ultimate and most effective weapon, superior.”
As he uttered these words and was putting them into execution, they, renewing the shout and following him, make a push in that quarter where Postumius Alba had opposed his troops to them: and they made the victor give ground, until the dictator came up, as his own men were now retreating. To that quarter the whole weight of the battle was now turned.
On Messius alone the fortune of the enemy depends. Many wounds and great slaughter now took place on both sides.
By this time not even the Roman generals themselves fight without receiving wounds, one of them, Postumius, retired from the field having his skull fractured by a stroke of a stone; neither the dictator could be removed by a wound in the shoulder, nor Fabius by having his thigh almost pinned to his horse, nor the consul by his arm being cut off, from the perilous conflict. [p. 283]