THE SAMNITE HISTORY
[sect. 1] WHEN the Roman generals Cornelius and Corvinus, and 91 the plebian Decius, had overcome the Samnites they left a military guard in Campania to ward off the Samnite incursions. These guards, partaking of the luxury and profuseness of the Campanians, were corrupted in their habits and began to envy the riches of these people, being themselves very poor and owing alarming debts in Rome. Finally they took counsel among themselves to kill their entertainers, seize their property, and marry their wives. This infamy would perhaps have been carried out at once, had not the new general Mamercus, who was marching against the Samnites, learned the design of the Roman guard. Concealing his intentions, he disarmed some of them and dismissed them, as soldiers entitled to discharge for long service. The more villanous ones he ordered to Rome on the pretence of important business, and he sent with them a military tribune with orders to keep a secret watch over them. Both parties of soldiers suspected that their design had leaked out, and they broke away from the tribune near the town of Terracina. They set free all those who were working under sentence in the fields, armed them as well as they could, and marched to Rome to the number of about 20,000.
[sect. 2] About one day's march from the city they were met by Corvinus who went into camp near them on the Alban mount. He remained quietly in his camp while investigating what the matter was, and did not consider it wise to attack these desperadoes. The men mingled with each other privately, the guards acknowledging with groans and tears, as among relatives and friends, that they were to blame, but declaring that the cause of it all was the debts they owed at 93 Rome. When Corvinus understood this he shrank from the responsibility of so much civil bloodshed and advised the Senate to release these men from debt. He exaggerated the difficulty of the war if it should be necessary to put down such a large body of men, who would fight with the energy of despair. He had strong suspicions also of the result of the meetings and conferences, lest his own army, who were relatives of these men and not less oppressed with debt, should be to some extent lacking in fidelity. If he should be defeated he said that the dangers would be greatly increased; if victorious, the victory itself would be most lamentable to the commonwealth, being gained over so many of their own relatives. The Senate was moved by his arguments and decreed a cancellation of debts to all Romans, and immunity also to these revolters. The latter laid down their arms and returned to the city.
Such was the bravery of the consul Manlius Torquatus. 95 He had a penurious father who did not care for him, but kept him at work with slaves in the fields and left him to partake of their fare. When the tribune Pomponius prosecuted him for numerous misdeeds and thought to mention among others his bad treatment of his son, young Manlius, concealing a dagger under his clothes, went to the house of the tribune and asked to see him privately as though he had something of importance to say about the trial. Being admitted, and just as he was beginning to speak, he fastened the door and threatened the tribune with instant death if he did not take an oath that he would withdraw the accusation against his father. The latter took the oath, dismissed the accusation, and explained the reason to the people. Manlius acquired great distinction from this affair, and was praised for being such a son to such a father.
With jeers he challenged him to single combat. The other [Manlius, the consul's son] restrained himself for a while; but when he could no longer endure the provocation, he dashed on his horse against him.
FROM "THE EMBASSIES"
[sect. 1] While the Samnites were raiding and plundering the territory 97 of Fregell, the Romans captured eighty-one villages belonging to the Samnites and the Daunii, slew 21,000 of their men, and drove them out of the Fregellian country. Again the Samnites sent ambassadors to Rome bringing the dead bodies of the men whom they had executed as guilty of causing the war, and also gold taken from their store. Wherefore the Senate, thinking that they had been utterly crushed, expected that a people who had been so sorely afflicted would concede the supremacy of Italy. The Samnites accepted the other conditions, or if they disputed any, they either entreated and begged for better terms, or referred the matter to their cities. But as to the supremacy, they could not bear even to hear anything on that subject, because, they said, they had not come to surrender their towns, but to cultivate friendship. Accordingly they used their gold in redeeming prisoners, and went away angry and resolved to make trial for the supremacy hereafter. Thereupon the Romans voted to receive no more embassies from the Samnites, but to wage irreconcilable, implacable war against them until they were subjugated by force.
[sect. 2] A god humbled this haughty spirit, for soon afterwards the Romans were defeated by the Samnites and compelled to pass under the yoke. The Samnites, under their general Pontius, having shut the Romans up in a defile where they were oppressed by hunger, the consuls sent messengers to him and begged that he should win the gratitude of the Romans, such as not many opportunities offer. He replied that they need not send any more messengers to him unless they were prepared to surrender their arms and their persons. There-upon a lamentation was raised as though a city had been captured, and the consuls delayed several days longer, hesitating to do an act unworthy of Rome. But when no means of rescue appeared and famine became severe, there being 50,000 young men in the defile whom they could not bear to see perish, they surrendered to Pontius and begged him either to kill them, or to sell them into slavery, or to keep 99 them for ransom, but not to put any stigma of shame upon the persons of the unfortunate.
[sect. 3] Pontius took counsel with his father, sending to Caudium to fetch him in a carriage on account of his age. The old man said to him: "My son, for a great enmity there is but one cure,--either extreme generosity or extreme severity. Severity terrifies, generosity conciliates. Regard this first and greatest victory as a treasure-house of good fortune. Release them all without punishment, without shame, without loss of any kind, so that the greatness of the benefit may inure to your advantage. I hear that they are very sensitive on the subject of their honor. Vanquished by benefits only, they will strive to surpass you in deeds of kindness. It is in your power to attain this state of kindly action as a security for everlasting peace. If this does not suit you, then kill them to the last man, not sparing one to carry the news. I advise as my choice the former, otherwise the latter is a necessity. The Romans will avenge themselves inevitably for any shame you put upon them. In that case you should strike the first blow and you will never deal them a heavier one than the slaughter of 50,000 of their young men at one time."
When he had thus spoken his son answered: "I do not wonder, father, that you have suggested two plans absolutely opposed to each other, for you said in the beginning that you should propose extreme measures of one kind or the other. But I cannot put such a large number of men to death. I should fear the vengeance of a god and the opprobrium of mankind. Nor can I take away from the two nations all hope of mutual accommodation by doing an irreparable wrong. As to releasing them I myself do not approve of that. After the Romans have inflicted so many evils upon us and while they hold so many of our fields and towns in their possession to this day, it is impossible to let these captives go scot free. I shall not do that. Such unreasonable leniency is insanity. Now look at this matter, leaving me out of the account. The Samnites, whose sons, fathers, and brothers have been slain by the Romans, and who have lost their goods and money, want satisfaction. A victor is naturally a haughty creature and our men are greedy of gain. Who then will endure that I should neither kill, nor sell, nor even fine these prisoners, but dismiss them unharmed like meritorious persons? Therefore let us discard the two extremes--the one because it is not in my power, the other because I cannot be guilty of such inhumanity. Yet, in order to humble the pride of the Romans to some extent, and to avoid the censure of others, I will take away the arms they have always used against us, and also their money (for even their money they get from us). Then I will make them pass safe and sound under the yoke, this being the mark of shame they are accustomed to put upon others. Then I will establish peace between the two nations and select the most illustrious of their knights as hostages for its observance until the entire people ratify it. In this way I think I shall have accomplished what belongs to a victor and to a humane man. I think also that the Romans themselves will be content with these terms, which they, who lay claim to such excellence of character, have often imposed upon others."
While Pontius was speaking the old man burst into tears, then seated himself in his carriage and went back to Caudium. Pontius then summoned the Roman envoys and asked them if they had any fetial100 priest with them. There was none present because the army had marched to undertake an irreconcilable, implacable war. Accordingly he commanded the envoys to make this announcement to the consuls and other officers of the army and to the whole multitude: "We had concluded perpetual friendship with the Romans, which you yourselves violated by giving aid to the Sidicini, our enemies. When peace was concluded again, you made war upon the Neapolitans, our neighbors. Nor did it escape us that these things were part of a plan of yours to seize the dominion of all Italy. In the first battles, where you gained the advantage on account of the unskilfulness of our generals, you showed us no moderation. Not content with devastating our country and occupying towns and villages not your own, you planted colonies in them. Moreover, when we twice sent embassies to you and made many concessions, you treated us disdainfully, and demanded that we should yield you the supremacy and obey you, as though we were not a nation to make terms with but a conquered race. Thereupon you decreed this irreconcilable, implacable war against your former friends, descendants of the Sabines whom you made your fellow-citizens. On account of your insatiable cupidity we ought not to make a treaty with you. But I, having regard for the divine wrath (which you despised), and mindful of our former relationship and friendship, will permit each one of you to pass under the yoke safe and sound with the clothes you stand in, if you swear to give up all of our lands and strongholds and withdraw your colonies from the same, and never wage war against the Samnites again."
When these terms were communicated to the camp there was wailing and lamentation, long and loud, for they considered the disgrace of passing under the yoke worse than death. Afterwards, when they heard about the knights who were to be held as hostages, there was another long lament. Yet they were compelled by want to accept the conditions. Accordingly they took the oaths, Pontius on the one side, and the two consuls, Postumius and Veturius, on the other, together with two qustors, four division commanders, and twelve tribunes,--all the surviving officers. When the oaths had been taken, Pontius opened a passage from the defile, and having fixed two spears in the ground and laid another across the top, caused the Romans to go under it as they passed out, one by one. He also gave them some animals to carry their sick, and provisions sufficient to bring them to Rome. This method of dismissing prisoners, which they call sending under the yoke, seems to me to serve only to insult the vanquished.
When the news of this calamity reached the city there was wailing and lamentation like a public mourning. The women mourned for those who had been saved in this ignominous way as for the dead. The senators discarded their purple-striped tunics. Feasts, marriages, and everything of that kind were prohibited for a whole year, until the calamity was retrieved. Some of the returning soldiers took refuge in the fields for shame, others stole into the city by night. The consuls entered by day according to law, and they wore their usual insignia, but they exercised no further authority.101
102 On account of admiration for his bravery a multitude of 103 chosen youths numbering eight hundred were in the habit of following Dentatus, ready for anything. This was an embarrassment to the Senate at their meetings.
FROM "THE EMBASSIES"
[sect. 1] Once a great number of the Senones, a Celtic tribe, aided 105 the Etruscans in war against the Romans. The latter sent ambassadors to the towns of the Senones and complained that, while they were under treaty stipulations, they were furnishing mercenaries to fight against the Romans. Although they bore the caduceus, and wore the garments of their office, Britomaris cut them in pieces and flung the parts away, alleging that his own father had been slain by the Romans while he was waging war in Etruria. The consul Cornelius, learning of this abominable deed while he was on the march, abandoned his campaign against the Etruscans, dashed with great rapidity by way of the Sabine country and Picenum against the towns of the Senones, and devastated them with fire and sword. He carried their women and children into slavery, and killed all the adult youth except a son of Britomaris, whom he reserved for awful torture, and led in his triumph.
[sect. 2] When the Senones who were in Etruria heard of this calamity, they joined with the Etruscans and marched against Rome.106 After various mishaps these Senones, having no homes to return to, and being in a state of frenzy over their misfortunes, fell upon Domitius [the other consul], by whom most of them were destroyed. The rest slew themselves in despair. Such was the punishment meted out to the Senones for their crime against the ambassadors.
FROM "THE EMBASSIES"
[sect. 1] Cornelius went sight-seeing along the coast of Magna 108 Grcia with ten ships with decks. At Tarentum there was a demagogue named Philocharis, a man of obscene life, who was for that reason nicknamed Thais. He reminded the Tarentines of an old treaty by which the Romans had bound themselves not to sail beyond the promontory of Lacinium. By his passion he persuaded them to excitement against Cornelius, and they sunk four of his ships and seized one of them with all on board. They accused the Thurini of preferring the Romans to the Tarentines although they were Greeks, and held them chiefly to blame for the Romans overpassing the limits. Then they expelled the noblest citizens of Thurii, sacked the city, and dismissed the Roman garrison that was stationed there under a treaty.
[sect. 2] When the Romans learned of these events, they sent an embassy to Tarentum to demand that the prisoners who had been taken, not in war, but as mere sight-seers, should be surrendered; that the citizens of Thurii who had been expelled should be brought back to their homes; that the property that had been plundered, or the value of what had been lost, should be restored; and finally, that they should surrender the authors of these crimes, if they wished to continue on good terms with the Romans. The Tarentines made difficulties about admitting the embassy to their council at all, and when they had received them jeered at them because they did not speak Greek perfectly, and made fun of their togas and of the purple stripe on them. [The text here describes an indignity put upon Postumius, the chief of the embassy, by one Philonidas, which will not bear translation.] This spectacle was received with laughter by the bystanders. Postumius, holding out his soiled garment, said: "You will wash out this defilement with plenty of blood -- you who take pleasure in this kind of jokes." As the Tarentines made no sort of answer the embassy departed. Postumius carried the soiled garment just as it was, and showed it to the Romans.
The people, deeply incensed, sent orders to milius, who was waging war against the Samnites, to suspend operations for the present and invade the territory of the Tarentines, and offer them the same terms that the late embassy 110 had proposed, and if they did not agree, to wage war against them with all his might. He made them the offer accordingly. This time they did not laugh for they saw the army. They were about equally divided in opinion until one of their number said to them as they doubted and disputed: "To surrender citizens is the act of a people already enslaved, yet to fight without allies is hazardous. If we wish to defend our liberty stoutly and to fight on equal terms, let us call on Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and designate him the leader of this war." This was done.
After a shipwreck, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, arrived at the 112 harbor of Tarentum. The Tarentines were very much put out with the king's officers, who quartered themselves upon the citizens by force, and openly abused their wives and children. Afterwards Pyrrhus put an end to their revels and other social gatherings and amusements as incompatible with a state of war, and ordered the citizens to severe military exercise, under penalty of death if they disobeyed. Then the Tarentines, tired out by these most unusual exercises and orders, fled the city as though it were a foreign government and took refuge in the fields. Then the king closed the gates and placed guards over them. In this way the Tarentines gained a clear perception of their own folly.
Some Roman soldiers were stationed in Rhegium for the safety and protection of the city against enemies. They, and their leader Decius, envying the good fortune of the inhabitants and seizing an opportunity when they were observing a public festival, slew them and violated their wives. They offered an excuse for this crime, that the citizens of Rhegium were about to betray the garrison to Pyrrhus. So Decius became supreme ruler instead of a prefect of the guard, and he contracted an alliance with the Mamertines, who dwelt on the other side of the strait of Sicily, and who had perpetrated the same kind of an outrage on their hosts not long before.
Suffering from an affection of the eyes and distrusting the physicians of Rhegium, Decius sent for a medical man who had migrated from Rhegium to Messana so long before that it was forgotten that he was a Rhegian. The latter persuaded him that, if he wished speedy relief, he should use certain hot drugs. Having applied a burning and corrosive ointment to his eyes, he told him to bear the pain till he should come again. Then he secretly returned to Messana. Decius, after enduring the pain a long time, washed off the ointment and found that he had lost his eyesight.
Fabricius was sent by the Romans to restore the city to those Rhegians who still remained. He sent the guards who had been guilty of this revolt back to Rome. They were beaten with rods in the forum, then beheaded, and their bodies cast away unburied. Decius, being placed under strict guard, in the discouragement of a blind man, committed suicide.
FROM "THE EMBASSIES"
Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, having gained a victory over the Romans and desiring to recuperate his forces after the severe engagement, and expecting that the Romans would be particularly desirous of coming to terms, sent to the city Cineas, a Thessalian, who was so renowned for eloquence that he had been compared with Demosthenes. When he was admitted to the senate-chamber, he extolled the king for a variety of reasons, and among others for his moderation after the victory, in that he had neither marched directly against the city nor attacked the camp of the vanquished. He offered them peace, friendship, and an alliance with Pyrrhus, provided the Tarentines should be included in the same treaty, and provided the other Greeks dwelling in Italy should remain free under their own laws, and provided the Romans would restore to the Lucanians, Samnites, Daunii, and Bruttians whatever they had taken from them in war. If they would do this, he said that Pyrrhus would restore all his prisoners without ransom.
The Romans hesitated a long time, being much intimidated by the prestige of Pyrrhus and by the calamity that had befallen them. Finally Appius Claudius, surnamed the Blind (because he had lost his eyesight from old age), commanded his sons to lead him into the senate-chamber, where he said: "I was grieved at the loss of my sight; now I regret that I did not lose my hearing also, for never did I expect to see or hear deliberations of this kind from you. Have you become so forgetful of yourselves all of a sudden, by reason of one misfortune, as to take the man who brought it upon you, and those who called him hither, for friends instead of enemies, and to give back to the Lucanians and Bruttians the property that your ancestors took from them? What is this but making the Romans servants of the Macedonians? And some of you dare to call this peace instead of servitude!" Many other things in the like sense did Appius urge to arouse their spirit. If Pyrrhus wanted peace and the friendship of the Romans, let him withdraw from Italy and then send his embassy. As long as he remained let him be considered neither friend nor ally, neither judge nor arbitrator in Roman affairs.
The Senate made answer to Cineas as Appius advised. They decreed the levying of two new legions for Lvinus, and made proclamation that whoever would volunteer in place of those who had been lost should put their names on the army roll. Cineas, who was still present and saw the multitude hastening to be enrolled, is reported to have said to Pyrrhus on his return: "We are waging war against a hydra." Others say that not Cineas, but even Pyrrhus himself said this when he saw the new Roman army larger than the former one; for the other consul, Coruncanius, came from Etruria and joined his forces with those of Lvinus. It is said also that when Pyrrhus made some further inquiries about Rome, Cineas replied that it was a city of generals; and when Pyrrhus wondered at this, he corrected himself, and said that it seemed more like a city of kings. When Pyrrhus saw that there was no expectation of peace from the Senate, he marched toward Rome, laying everything waste on his way. When he had come as far as the town of Anagnia, finding his army encumbered with booty and a host of prisoners, he decided to postpone the battle. Accordingly he turned back to Campania, sending his elephants in advance, and distributed his army in winter quarters among the towns.
Hither came Roman ambassadors proposing either to ransom the prisoners or to exchange them for Tarentines and his other allies whom they held. He replied that if they were ready for peace on the terms proposed by Cineas, he would release the prisoners gratuitously, but if the war was to continue, he would not give up such a large number of valiant men to fight against him. Otherwise he treated them in a kingly way. Perceiving that Fabricius, the chief of the embassy, had great influence in the city, and also that he was a very poor man, he approached him and said that if he would bring about a treaty of peace, he (Pyrrhus) would take him to Epirus, and make him his chief officer and the sharer of all his possessions; and he asked him to accept a present of money then and there, on the pretext that he was to give it to those who perfected the treaty. Fabricius burst out laughing. He made no answer as to public matters, but said: "Neither you nor your friends, O King, can take away my independence. I consider my poverty more blessed than all the riches of kings if conjoined with fear." Others report the conversation differently, saying that Fabricius replied: "Beware lest the Epirotes share my nature and prefer me to you."
Whichever answer he made, Pyrrhus admired his high spirit. He then tried another plan for procuring peace. He allowed the prisoners to go home without guards to attend the festival of Saturn, on the condition that if the city accepted the terms offered by him they should be free, but if not that they should return to him at the end of the festival. Although the prisoners earnestly besought and urged the Senate to accept the terms, the latter ordered them, at the conclusion of the festival, to deliver themselves up to Pyrrhus on a day specified, and decreed the death penalty to those who should linger beyond that time. This order was observed by all. In this way Pyrrhus learned again that everything depended on the arbitrament of arms.
FROM "THE EMBASSIES"
[sect. 1] While Pyrrhus was perplexed by the Roman complication 114 he was disturbed by an uprising of the Molossians. At this time also Agathocles, the king of Sicily, had just died. As Pyrrhus had married his daughter Laneia, he began to look upon Sicily as more of his concern than Italy. Still he was loath to abandon those who had summoned him to their aid, without some kind of arrangement for peace. Seizing eagerly the occasion of the sending back of a traitor who had deserted from him, he testified his gratitude to the consuls for this act and sent Cineas again to Rome to repeat his thanks for the man's safe-keeping, and to surrender the prisoners by way of recompense,--instructing him to procure peace in whatever way he could. Cineas brought a large number of presents both for men and women, knowing that the people were fond of money and gifts, and that the women had had large influence among the Romans from the earliest times.
[sect. 2] But they warned each other against the gifts, and replied that no man or woman would accept anything. They gave Cineas the same answer as before. If Pyrrhus would withdraw from Italy and send an embassy to them without gifts, they would agree to fair terms in all respects. They treated the embassy, however, in a sumptuous manner and sent back to Pyrrhus in exchange all the Tarentines and others of his allies whom they held as prisoners. Thereupon Pyrrhus sailed for Sicily with his elephants and 8000 horse, promising his allies that he would return to Italy. Three years later he returned, for the Carthaginians had driven him out of Sicily.
[sect. 1] After the battle and the armistice with the Romans, Pyrrhus sailed for Sicily promising he would return to Italy. Three years later he returned, having been driven out of Sicily by the Carthaginians, and having been a grievous burden to the Sicilians themselves by reason of the lodging and supplying of his troops, the garrisons and the tribute he had imposed on them. Enriched by these exactions he set sail for Rhegium with 110 decked ships, besides a much 116 larger number of merchant vessels and ships of burthen. But the Carthaginians made a naval attack upon him, sunk seventy of his ships, and disabled all the rest except twelve. Fleeing with these he took vengeance on the Italian Locrians who had put to death his garrison and their commanding officer, because of outrages commited upon the inhabitants. Such savage vengeance did he take on them in the way of killing and plundering that he did not spare even the temple gifts of Proserpina, saying by way of joke that unseasonable piety was no better than superstition, and that it was good policy to obtain wealth without labor.
[sect. 2] Loaded down with spoils, a tempest overtook him, sunk some of his ships with the men in them, and cast the others ashore. The waves cast all the sacred things safe upon the Locrian beach. Wherefore Pyrrhus, perceiving too late the consequences of his impiety, restored them to the temple of Proserpina and sought to propitiate the goddess with numerous sacrifices. As the victims were unpropitious he became still more furious, and he put to death all those who had advised the temple-robbing, or had assented to it, or had taken part in it. Thus had Pyrrhus come to grief.