The news of this reverse gave rise in Rome to a greater alarm than the situation warranted. for, as though the army had been destroyed, a [p. 371]
cessation of legal business was proclaimed, guards1
called into service at the gates, and night —watches in the several streets, arms and missiles being heaped upon the walls.
after summoning all of military age to take the oath, the dictator was dispatched to the army, and there found everything more tranquil than he had expected and reduced to order by the careful measures of the master of the horse.
The camp had been withdrawn to a safer site, the cohorts that had lost their standards had been left outside the rampart
and the army was eager for battle, that it might the sooner wipe out its disgrace.
accordingly he advanced without delay into the district of Rusellae.3
to this place the enemy followed him; and although in consequence of their success they had every confidence in their ability to cope with the Romans even in the open field, yet they also attempted an ambuscade, which they had successfully essayed before.
not far from the Roman camp stood the half —ruined buildings of a village which had been burned when the country was laid waste.
concealing armed men in these ruins, they drove out some cattle in full sight of a Roman outpost, which was under the command of the lieutenant Gnaeus Fulvius. but when this tempting bait failed to lure any of the Romans from their post, one of the shepherds came up under the very works and called out to the others, who were hesitating to drive out their flock from amongst the tumble —down buildings, asking why they were so slow, for they could safely drive them through the midst of the Roman camp.
some men from Caere4
interpreted these words to the lieutenant, and great was the indignation aroused [p. 373]
through all the maniples of soldiers; yet they dared5
not stir without the orders of their leader, who commanded those familiar with the language to mark whether the shepherds' speech were more like that of rustics or of city —folk.
on their reporting that in accent, in carriage, and in complexion they were too refined for shepherds, “go then,” said he, “and bid them uncover the ambuscade they have laid in vain; for the Romans know all, and can now no more be entrapped than they can be conquered by force of arms.”
These words were no sooner heard and repeated to those who lay in ambush than they suddenly all rose up from their hiding —places and advanced in martial array into the plain which was spread open to the view on every side.
their army seemed to the lieutenant to be greater than his own detachment could withstand, and he therefore sent in all haste to the dictator to summon help, in the meantime resisting by himself the enemy's charges.