Matters being managed successfully in every direction, the dictator, by a decree of the senate and order of the people, returned to the city in triumph.
By far the most remarkable object in the triumph was Cossus, bearing the spolia opima
of the king he had slain.
The soldiers chaunted their uncouth verses on him, extolling him as equal to Romulus. With the usual form of dedication, he presented, as an offering, the spoils in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, near the spoils of Romulus, which, having been the first called opima,
were the only ones at that time;
and he attracted the eyes of all the citizens from the dictator's chariot to himself, and en- [p. 273]
joyed almost solely the honour of that day's solemnity. The dictator offered up to Jupiter in the Capitol a golden crown a
pound in weight, at the public expense, by order of the people. Following all the Roman writers, I have represented Aulus Cornelius Cossus as a military tribune, when he carried the second spolia opima
to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius.
But besides that those spoils are rightly considered opima,
which one general has taken from another; and we know no general but the person under whose auspices the war is conducted, the inscription itself written on the spoils proves, against both me and them, that Cossus was consul when he took them.
Having once heard Augustus Caesar, the founder or restorer of all our temples, on entering the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which being dilapidated by time he rebuilt, aver that he himself had read the said inscription on the linen breastplate, I thought it would be next to sacrilege to rob Cossus of such a testimony respecting his spoils as that of Caesar, the renovator of the temple itself.
Whether the mistake is chargeable on the very ancient annals and the linen books of the magistrates, deposited in the temple of Moneta, and which Licinius Macer occasionally cites as authorities, which have Aulus Cornelius Cossus consul with Titus Quintius Pennus, in the ninth year after this, every person may form his own opinion.
For there is this additional proof, that a battle so celebrated could not be transferred to that year; that the three years before and after the consulship of Aulus Cornelius were entirely free from war, in consequence of a pestilence and a scarcity of grain; so that some annals, as if in mourning, present nothing but the names of the consuls.
The third year from the consulship of Cossus has him as military tribune with consular power; in the same year as master of the horse, in which office he fought another distinguished horse battle.
Conjecture is open on the matter; but, as I think, idle surmises may be turned to support any opinion: when the hero of the fight, having placed the recent spoils in the sacred repository, having before him Jove himself, to whom they were consecrated, and Romulus, no contemptible witnesses in case of a false inscription, entitled himself Aulus Cornelius Cossus consul.