UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
this juncture war had not been formally declared.
A demand was now made upon the Samnites to withdraw their garrison from the arx,
and on their refusal to do so the fetiales proceeded to declare hostilities.
Three Roman armies were thrown into the field, one to continue the siege of
Palaeopolis, and the other two to invade Samnium. For five years the Romans were
almost continuously successful. The Samnite territory was ravaged as far as the
borders of Apulia, and the country brought to the verge of submission, when a
revolt of the two Latin towns of Privernum and Volitrae suddenly recalled the
victors within their own borders. The Senate adopted a conciliatory policy, arid
the insurgents were induced to submit. The Samnites, taking advantage of this
diversion, sued for peace, and the same might have been made on favorable terms;
but the Romans would accept nothing less than absolute submission, and
hostilities were again renewed.
In the year B. C. 321 the Roman army, under command of the consuls, Veturius and
Postumius, advanced from Campania to relieve the town of Luceria, which, it was
reported, was besieged by the Samnites. While marching through the defiles near
Caudium the whole force entered the celebrated pass known as the Caudine Forks.
The Samnites, well acquainted with the strategic advantages of this place, had
broken up their camp before Luceria and taken possession of the further end of
the defile; so that the Romans, having entered the pass, found it impossible to
force their way through.
In the mean time a division of the Samnites passed around to the rear and gained
the entrance by which the Romans had made their way into the trap. The consuls
with their armies were as completely caught as if they were blocked in a cavern.
They were obliged to surrender, and the commanding officers were bound by a
solemn compact to relinquish all the conquests and colonies previously made by
Rome in the Samnite territory. The soldiers were then deprived of their arms and
made to pass under the yoke. The army was then given its freedom and permitted to
return to Rome.
Although the consuls had solemnly sworn to certain conditions of peace, the
Senate refused to ratify the treaty. Gavius Pontius, the Samnite general, a man
of great courage and abilities, insisted that the terms must be complied with, or
else that by the common faith of nations, the Roman army should be returned to
the Caudine Forks, and put into his power, as before, Postumius advised the
Senate not to comply with this demand, but declared that he and his colleague,
Veturius, together with the other officers who had sworn to a compact which they
could not keep, should be delivered to Pontius, to be dealt with as the Samnites
would. This proposal was accepted by the Senate, but Pontius refused to receive
Postumius and his fellow officers, and they were permitted to return to the Roman
army. Thus by bad faith were the Samnites robbed of the legitimate fruits of a
great victory. (1)
The command of the Roman army was now given to Papirus Cursor, who soon advanced
a second time into Samnium. The town of _____________________ 1 The Roman
conscience was a very inaccurate organ of conduct. Never was this better
illustrated than in the miserable subterfuge which was adopted as a sufficient
reason for renewing the war on Samnium. It is related that when the disgraced
Postumius was led back by the pater patratus, and delivered over in the Samnite