The consular election resulted in the choice1
of Lucius Papirius Crassus (for the second time) and Lucius Plautius Venox.
at the outset of this year Volscian ambassadors from Fabrateria and Luca came to Rome asking protection, and promising that, if [p. 75]
defended from Samnite aggressions, they would be2
loyal and obedient subjects of the Roman People. The senate thereupon sent envoys to the Samnites and warned them to do no violence to the territories of those cities.
The embassy was effective, not so much because the Samnites desired peace, as because they were unprepared, as yet, for war.
The same year saw the beginning of the war with Privernum.
The enemy had the Fundanians for allies, and even a Fundanian general, by the name of Vitruvius Vaccus. he was a man of distinction, not only in his own city, but in Rome as well, where he had a house on the Palatine, at the place which, after the building had been demolished and the area confiscated, was known as the Meadows of Vaccus.
he was spoiling, far and wide, the territories of Setia, Norba, and Cora, when Lucius Papirius marched out to confront him, and took up a position not far from the other's camp.
Vitruvius had neither the strength of mind to remain behind his rampart in the face of a more powerful opponent, nor the courage to fight at a distance from his works.
The last of his troops were scarcely clear of the camp gates and his line deployed, and the soldiers were thinking more of flight than of battle or the enemy, when he began, without showing either prudence or audacity, a critical engagement.
he was easily and decisively defeated; yet, because his camp was so near and so readily accessible, he was able without great difficulty to save his men from heavy losses; indeed, there were hardly any slain in the battle itself, and in the flight only a few amongst the stragglers, as they rushed into the camp.
under cover of the earliest dusk they sought Privernum in a panic —stricken [p. 77]
throng, to obtain for themselves the protection of3
walls in place of a rampart.
from Privernum the other consul Plautius, after everywhere pillaging the fields and driving off the cattle, led his army into the domain of Fundi.
as he crossed the border he was met by the Fundanian senate, who said that they had come to plead, not for Vitruvius and his followers, but for the people of Fundi, whom even Vitruvius himself had cleared of responsibility for the war, when he sought refuge in Privernum and not in his native city.
it was therefore in Privernum that the Roman People should seek out and punish its enemies, who had fallen away at the same time from Fundi and from Rome, unmindful of either allegiance: the Fundani were peaceful, their sympathies were Roman, and they held in grateful recollection the gift of citizenship.
they begged the consul to make no war upon an innocent people, and declared that their lands, their city, their persons, and those of their wives and children were subject to the dominion of the Roman People and would so remain.
The consul heartily commended them, and announcing in a dispatch to Rome that the Fundanians were loyal, turned aside and marched against Privernum.
writes that before he set out, the consul executed the leaders of the plot, and sent some three hundred and fifty of the conspirators in chains to Rome; but that the senate would not accept of their surrender, being persuaded that the people of Fundi sought to escape with the punishment of their poor and lowly.