Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Son of Fabius Loses a Battle

The year 295 B.C. in which the battle of Sentinum was won, was a year long remembered by the Romans for its glorious victories.

But three years later their armies were defeated by the Samnites.

Fabius, the son of the Fabius who crossed the Ciminian hills, led the Roman legions against the foe. The young Consul believed that the Samnites had been so severely beaten during the last few years, that he need take no great precautions before attacking them.

It was after a long march that Fabius encountered a small detachment of the enemy. His men were weary, but he determined to pursue the foe, and succeeded in making it slowly retreat.

The Consul pushed on still more eagerly, to find himself, before he was aware, close to the entire Samnite army, which was drawn up ready for battle.

A terrible struggle took place. But the Romans, exhausted and unprepared, were slain in great numbers. Indeed had night not fallen, the whole army would have been destroyed.

At Rome, the dreadful tidings roused great indignation against Fabius. It was even proposed in the Senate that the young Consul should be recalled and have his Consulship taken from him, a disgrace unheard of until now.

But his father pleaded that his son might be spared so heavy a punishment. If he was allowed to keep his command, Fabius even offered to go to the war and serve under his son.

So unselfish an offer could not be refused, and the veteran general was permitted to join the army. He lost no time in setting out, and he took with him large reinforcements, for every man was willing to follow the brave old chief.

The Roman soldiers were themselves anxious to retrieve their defeat. Encouraged by the presence of the general, who had so often led them to victory, they fought fiercely and defeated the Samnites, taking Pontius, their leader, captive.

When young Fabius returned to Rome, his former defeat was forgotten in the joy of this great victory, and he enjoyed a triumph.

Some histories tell that the leader of the Samnites, whom Fabius had captured, was the same Pontius who thirty years before had spared the lives of the Roman soldiers at Caudium.

If that was so the generous treatment of the Samnite chief was now cruelly requited. For as Fabius drove in his chariot through the streets of Rome, Pontius, loaded with chains, walked in the procession. At the foot of the Capitol he was taken, with other captives, to the prison beneath the Capitoline hill and beheaded.

A year or two later, in 290 B.C. the third Samnite war drew to a close. The last battle was won by a famous Consul, named Dentatus.

The Samnites, hoping to bribe the Roman, sought for him in his country home. They found him, like Cincinnatus, living quietly on his farm, cooking for his dinner turnips which he had himself sown in his fields.

Dentatus had little to say to the Samnite ambassadors, when they offered him bribes to desert his country, save to tell them that he did not consider it a great thing to possess gold. 'To rule those who have it, is what I value,' he added sternly. And as the ambassadors withdrew they saw, as in a picture, their own army defeated, and the Romans, with Dentatus at their head, marching home victorious.

The Consul did indeed defeat the Samnites, so that they were forced to sue for peace and retire once again to their mountain strongholds.

Yet even now their hardy spirits were not subdued, and again and again you will read of them coming down from their fastnesses to strike a blow at Rome. And they were wise in their warfare, choosing always the time when Rome was already surrounded by other foes.


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