The war with the Samnites was practically1
ended, but the Roman senators had not yet ceased to be concerned about it, when the rumour of an Etruscan war sprang up.
in those days there was no other race —setting apart the risings of the Gauls [p. 275]
—whose arms were more dreaded, not only because2
their territory lay so near, but also because of their
numbers. accordingly, while the other consul was in Samnium, dispatching the last remnants of the war, Publius Decius, who was very sick and had stopped behind in Rome, in pursuance of a senatorial resolution named Gaius Sulpicius Longus dictator, who appointed Gaius Junius Bubulcus to be his master of the
horse. Sulpicius, as the gravity of the circumstances required, administered the oath to all those of military age, and made ready arms and whatever else the situation called for, with the utmost assiduity. yet he was not so carried away with these great preparations as to plan for an offensive war, clearly intending to remain inactive, unless the Etruscans should first take the
field. but the Etruscans followed the same policy, preparing for war but preventing it from breaking out. neither side went beyond their own frontiers.
noteworthy, too, in that year was the censorship of Appius Claudius and Gaius Plautius; but the name of Appius was of happier memory with succeeding generations, because he built a road, and conveyed a stream of water into the
These undertakings he carried out by himself, since his colleague had resigned, overcome with shame at the disgraceful and invidious manner in which Appius revised the list
of senators; and Appius, exhibiting the obstinacy which had marked his family from the earliest days, exercised the
censorship alone. it was Appius, too, by whose warranty the Potitian clan, with whom the priesthood of Hercules at the Ara Maxima4
was hereditary, taught the ritual of that sacrifice to public slaves, [p. 277]
in order to devolve the service
upon them. tradition5
relates that after this a strange thing happened, and one that might well give men pause ere they disturb the established order of religious ceremonies. for whereas at that time there were twelve families of the Potitii, and grown men to the number of thirty, within the year they had perished, every man, and the stock had
become extinct; and not only did the name of the Potitii die out, but even the censor, by the unforgetting ire of the gods, was a few years later stricken blind.