Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Fabius among the Ciminian Hills

One of the most famous heroes of the second Samnite war was Fabius.

Before the disgrace of the Caudine Forks, Fabius, who was an ardent warrior, had fought a battle against the command of the Dictator, Papirius. That he was victorious did not make Papirius less angry with his disobedience. Indeed so angry was he, that he ordered that Fabius should at once be beheaded. But the soldiers threatened to mutiny if the order was carried out, and so for the time the life of the young soldier was saved.

Knowing that the Dictator would take the first opportunity to carry out the sentence he had pronounced, Fabius waited only until it was dark and then fled from the camp to Rome.

When he reached the city he summoned the Senate to meet, meaning to beg for protection from the wrath of the Dictator.

But before the Senate had assembled, Papirius, who had followed Fabius, dashed into the Forum and ordered the runaway to be arrested.

The father of Fabius then besought the tribunes to interfere between his son and the Dictator, declaring that if they did not do so, he would appeal to the Assembly of the people.

But although the tribunes disapproved of the severity of Papirius, they did not dare to interfere, for the power of the Dictator was supreme.

The people, however, who had now gathered in the Forum, speedily took the matter into their own hands. With one voice they begged Papirius to forgive Fabius for their sake.

Papirius, whose passion had had time to cool, was pleased that the people should ask him to be merciful, and he promised to pardon the disobedient soldier.

In 310 B.C., Fabius was elected Consul, along with Marcius. Together the two Consuls set out, each with his own army, to the relief of Sutrium, which town had already been besieged for a year by the Etruscans.

Roman troops had tried again and again, but without success, to raise the siege.

New hope was aroused in Sutrium when the citizens heard that both the Consuls were on the way to their relief. Before they had accomplished anything, however, Marcius was forced to leave his colleague to march against the Samnites, who were in Apulia, plundering the allies of Rome.

Fabius was left alone at Sutrium, but before long he had forced the Etruscans to raise the siege and had captured their camp, in which he found thirty-eight standards.

The Consuls then pursued the enemy across the Ciminian hills, which hills we now know as the mountains of Viterbo.

In these days of long ago, the Ciminian hills were densely-wooded, and strange stories were told of their mysterious shades.

No pathway was to be found through these hilly forests, while their unknown terrors were dreaded so much that even peaceful merchants never attempted to reach Etruria by passing through the Ciminian hills. This was the way that Fabius ventured in pursuit of the enemy.

The Senate at Rome no sooner heard of the Consul's daring, than it sent messengers to bid him be less reckless. But long before the messengers reached the edge of the thicket, Fabius was in the depth of the forests.

For weeks nothing was heard of the Consul and his army, and the Senate believed that they were lost. Fabius had, however, escaped from the thickly-wooded hills with but few adventures, and was safe in the rich plains of central Etruria. If he had not captured the Etruscans, he was now at least able to plunder their country.

Meanwhile the dire tidings reached Rome that Marcius had been defeated by the Samnites, nor was it known whether the Consul had escaped with his life.

Bereft, for the time at least, of both Consuls, the Senate resolved to appoint a Dictator, and Papirius, they knew, was the man to inspire the people with the greatest trust.

But a Dictator must be appointed by one of the Consuls, and Marcius was either dead or in the hands of his enemies.

Fabius, of whose safety the Senate was now assured, would scarcely appoint Papirius to the supreme post of honour, for it was he who had hunted Fabius and condemned him to death in earlier days.

Nevertheless, the Senate determined to beg Fabius to forget the treatment he had received from Papirius, and for the sake of his country to appoint him Dictator. So messengers were sent to the Consul with the Senate's request.

Fabius had fought and won many battles, but never had he had a fiercer one to fight than while he listened to the message sent to him by the Senate.

His look indeed was forbidding, and gave the ambassadors little hope of success. Having heard what they had to say, he gave them no clue to his thoughts, for he dismissed them without a word.

But in the dead of night, he arose, as was the custom when a Dictator had to be appointed, and gave to his enemy the coveted post. By this act he made himself once more the subordinate of Papirius.

The ambassadors thanked Fabius for his noble deed, but showing no pleasure in their praise, the Consul, still without a word, sent them from his presence.

Fabius had won that night a more glorious victory than any he had ever gained on the battlefield, for he had conquered himself.

No sooner was Papirius appointed Dictator, than he marched against the Samnites and defeated them in a great battle. Marcius, who was alive, was thus set free to return to Rome. The Samnites were forced back into their own mountain country, and in 304 B.C. they made an honourable peace with Rome. Thus the second Samnite war came to an end.

Fabius meanwhile won victory after victory over the Etruscans, and in 304 B.C. they also made a peace with Rome, which lasted for several years.

Rome was now mistress of Italy, and in such respect was she held that no tribe henceforth dared to attack her, without first enlisting other powers to help them in their adventure.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus