Four military tribunes with consular authority were elected —Titus Quintius Pennus, from the consulship, Caius Furius, Marcus Postumius, and Aulus Cornelius Cossus. Of these Cossus held the command in the city.
The other three, after the levy was held, set out to Veii, and were an instance how mischievous in military affairs is a plurality of com- [p. 286]
manders. By insisting each on his own plans, whilst they severally entertained different views, they left an opportunity open to the enemy to take them at advantage.
For the Veientians, taking an opportunity, attacked their line whilst still uncertain as to their movements, some ordering the signal to be given, others a retreat to be sounded: their camp, which was nigh at hand, received them in their confusion and turning their backs.
There was more disgrace therefore than loss. The state, unaccustomed to defeat, was become melancholy; they hated the tribunes, they insisted on a dictator, the hopes of the state now seemed to rest on him. When a religious scruple interfered here also, lest a dictator could not be appointed except by a consul, the augurs on being consulted removed that scruple.
Aulus Cornelius nominated Mamercus Aemilius, and he himself was nominated by him master of the horse. So little did censorial animadversion avail, so as to prevent them from seeking a regulator of their affairs from a family unmeritedly censured, as soon as the condition of the state stood in need of genuine merit.
The Veientians elated with their success, having sent ambassadors around the states of Etruria, boasting that three Roman generals had been beaten by them in an engagement, though they could not effect a public co-operation in their designs, procured volunteers from all quarters allured by the hope of plunder.
The state of the Fidenatians alone determined on renewing hostilities; and as if it would be an impiety to commence war unless with guilt, after staining their arms with the blood of the new settlers there, as they had on a former occasion with that of the ambassadors, they join the Veientians.
After this the leading men of the two states consulted whether they should select Veii or Fidenae as the seat of war. Fidenae appeared the more convenient. Accordingly, having crossed the Tiber, the Veientians transferred the war thither.
There was great consternation at Rome. The army being recalled from Veii, and that same army dispirited in consequence of their defeat, the camp is pitched before the Colline gate, and armed soldiers are posted along the walls, and a suspension of all civil business is proclaimed in the forum, and the shops were closed; and every place becomes more like to a camp than a city.