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Bill Thayer

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I: Part 1

This webpage reproduces part of
The Epitome of Roman History


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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I: Part 3

Lucius Annaeus Florus

The two books of the Epitome,
extracted from Titus Livius,
of all the wars of seven hundred years

Book I (continued)

IIII. The Etruscan War against King Porsenna.
V. The Latin War.
VI. The War with the Etruscans, Falisci, Veientines and Fidenates.

 p31  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] IIII. The Etruscan War against King Porsenna

I, 10 The first arms which the Roman people took up after the expulsion of the kings were for the defence of their liberty. For Porsenna, king of the Etruscans, arrived with a huge army and was eager to restore the Tarquinii by force. 2 Although he pressed hard upon them both with arms and with famine and, having seized the Janiculum, held the very approach to the city, they withstood and repelled him and finally inspired him with such admiration that, in spite of his superior strength, he actually concluded a treaty of friendship with an all but conquered enemy. 3 It was on this occasion that those three prodigies and marvels of Rome made their appearance, Horatius, Mucius and Cloelia, who, were they not recorded in our annals, would seem fabulous characters at the present day. 4 For Horatius Cocles, finding that he could not alone drive back the enemies who threatened him on every side, after the bridge had been broken down, swam across the Tiber without abandoning his arms. 5 Mucius Scaevola by a stratagem attempted an attack upon the king in his own camp, and when he was seized after aiming a blow by mistake at his purple-clad attendants,1 placed his hand in a blazing fire and by a crafty device doubled the king's alarm. 6 "Behold," he said, "and know from what sort of  p33 a man you have escaped; three hundred of us have sworn to attempt the same deed." Meanwhile, incredible to relate, Mucius was unafraid, but the king was startled as though his own hand were burning. 7 So much for the valour of the men; but that neither sex might lack praise, lo and behold, maidens too showed valour. Cloelia, one of the hostages handed over to the king, escaped from her guards and swam on horseback through the river of her native city. 8 The king, indeed, alarmed at all these prodigies of valour, bade the Romans farewell and told them to keep their freedom. The Tarquinii, however, continued the struggle until Brutus with his own hand killed Arruns, the king's son, and fell dead on his body from a wound dealt him by his foe, as though he would pursue the adulterer even to the infernal regions.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] V. The Latin War

I, 11 The Latins also supported the Tarquins in a spirit of rivalry and jealousy towards the Romans, wishing that a people which was gaining dominion abroad might at any rate be slaves at home. All Latium, therefore, under the leadership of Mamilius of Tusculum, summoned up their courage under the pretence of avenging the king. 2 A battle was fought at Lake Regillus, for a long time with shifting fortunes, until Postumius, the dictator, himself adopted the new and remarkable stratagem of hurling a standard among the enemy, in order that it might be recovered. 3 Cossus,2 the master of the horse,  p35 ordered the cavalry to discard their bits — another new device — in order that they might charge with greater vigour. 4 So desperate was the fight at last that a tradition has been handed down that gods were present as spectators. Two young men on white horses sped over the battle-field like stars across the heavens; and no one doubted that they were Castor and Pollux. The Roman commander, therefore, himself prayed to them and, bargaining for victory, promised them a temple, and carried out his promise as though in payment to the gods who were his comrades in arms.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 5 Hitherto they had fought for their freedom; they presently were at war with these same Latins, persistently and without intermission, in defence of their frontier. 6 Cora (though its seems incredible) and Alsium were formidable: Satricum and Corniculum were provinces. Over Verulae and Bovillae, I am ashamed to say it — but we triumphed. 7 Tibur, now a suburban retreat, and Praeneste, now a charming summer resort, were attacked after the offering of solemn vows in the Capitol. 8 Faesulaea meant the same to us then as Carrhae3 lately meant; the Arician Wood corresponded to the Hercynian Forest,4 Fregellae to Gesoriacum,5 the Tiber to the Euphrates. 9 The capture of Corioli — alas for the shame of it! — was regarded as so glorious an achievement that Gnaeus Marcius became Coriolanus, taking the city into his name, as though he had conquered Numantia or Africa. 10 Spoils won from Antium still exist, which Maenius fixed up on the tribunal of the forum after the capture of the enemies' fleet — if it can be called a fleet,  p37 for it consisted of only six beaked ships. In those primitive days, however, a fleet of that number was enough for a war at sea.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 11 But the most persistent of the Latins were the Aequi and Volsci, who were, if I may use the phrase, the everyday enemies of Rome. 12 These were subdued chiefly by Titus Quinctius, the dictator who was summoned from the plough and by a famous victory rescued the camp of the consul Manilius, which was beleaguered and almost captured. 13 It happened to be the middle of the season of sowing, when the lictor found the patrician actually at work bending over the plough. Setting out thence to the battle-field, in order that he might keep up the tradition of his rustic employment, he made his conquered enemies pass like cattle under the yoke. 14 The campaign being concluded, this farmer who had enjoyed a triumph returned to his oxen, and, ye Heavens, with what speed! 15 For the war was begun and finished within fifteen days, so that it seemed for all the world as if the dictator had hurried back to finish the work which he had left.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] VI. The War with the Etruscans, Falisci, Veientines and Fidenates

I, 12 From the direction of Etruria the Veientines were persistent enemies who attacked each year; so much so that the single family of the Fabii undertook to form a special force and waged a private war against them. The disaster which befell them is well, all too well, known. 2 Near Cremera three hundred of them, an army of patricians,  p39 were slain, and so the gate which sent them forth to the battle was branded with the name of the Evil Gate. 3 But for this disaster atonement was made by great victories, when the strongest cities were captured under different leaders and with different results. 4 The Falisci surrendered voluntarily; Fidenae was consumed by its own flames; Veii was thoroughly plundered and destroyed. 5 When the Falisci were being besieged, the honourable conduct of the Roman commander was a subject of admiration, and not without reason; for he actually sent back in chains a schoolmaster who offered to betray the city, together with the boys whom he had brought with him. 6 For, being a man of integrity and wisdom, he knew that the only true victory is that which is won with untainted honour and unimpaired dignity. 7 The people of Fidenae, not being a match for the Romans with the sword, had armed themselves with torches and had put on vari-coloured fillets resembling serpents, in order to inspire terror, and had marched forth like furies; but their funereal attire was an omen of their overthrow. 8 The ten years' siege which Veii sustained is an indication of its strength. It was the first occasion on which a Roman army spent the winter under tents of skin, and winter service was compensated by special pay, and the soldiers at their own suggestion were bound under an oath not to return until the city had been captured. 9 The spoils won from Lars Tolumnius, the king, were brought back in triumph and dedicated to Jupiter Feretrius. In the end the fall of the city was brought about, not by scaling-ladders or assault, but by a mine and underground  p41 stratagems. 10 Lastly, the booty appeared so rich that a tithe of it was sent to Pythian Apollo, and the whole of the Roman people was summoned to plunder the city. 11 Such was Veii in those days. Who now ever remembers its former existence? What remains or traces of it are left? Our trust in our annals has a difficult task to make us believe that Veii ever existed.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 His mistake was due to the fact that the attendant was pari (cum rege) ornatu (Liv. II.12.7).

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2 Florus here by mistake substitutes the name of Cossus as master of the horse on this occasion for that of Titus Aebutius. A. Cornelius Cossus was master of the horse to the dictator Aemilius Mamercinus in 426 B.C.

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3 See p211.

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4 see p337.

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5 See pp205, 337.

Thayer's Note:

a I agree with the 19c Etruscan scholar George Dennis (q.v., complete with map of all these locations): Faesulae is unlikely, and Aefulae (sometimes, but apparently wrongly, called *Aesulae by older modern scholars), or just maybe Fidenae, is what Florus must have written.

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Page updated: 29 Oct 08