Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
CAMILLUS SETS THE CAMP OF THE VOLSCIANS ON FIRE
 WHILE Rome was still at work repairing the damage which the
Gauls had inflicted on her city, the Volscians encamped
within twenty miles of her gates. They hoped to attack
the city while she was unprepared for war.
But an army at once set out to meet the enemy. Before
the Romans were aware, however, their camp was
surrounded by the Volscians, and they were unable
either to fight or to retire.
Camillus, who had again been appointed Dictator,
summoned every Roman who could bear arms to follow him.
He then marched to within a short distance of the camp
of the Volscians. Here he ordered fires to be lighted,
that the imprisoned army might know that help was at
But the Volscians saw the fires as well as the Romans,
and at once began to strengthen their camp with a
strong barricade, made out of the trunks of trees.
Then, knowing that their numbers would soon be
reinforced, they were satisfied that the enemy could do
them no harm.
But Camillus did not mean to wait until their allies
joined them. He determined at once to set fire to the
wooden barricade that the Volscians had built around
Ordering part of his force to attack the camp on one
side, the Dictator withdrew the rest of the army to
that side of the camp from which the wind blew. He
then bade the soldiers fling lighted torches in among
the wooden defences.
 The flames, blown by the wind, quickly spread from
stake to stake until they reached the camp itself.
There was no water at hand to quench the fire, and the
Volscians were soon driven from their tents, to find
themselves in the hands of the Romans, who cut them
down without mercy.
Camillus then ordered the flames to be put out, that
the soldiers might pillage what was still unconsumed by
Leaving his son to guard the prisoners, the Dictator
was soon marching to Sutrium, which town was besieged
by the Etruscans.
But before Camillus reached the city, he met a pitiful
band of men, women and children, who had already been
banished from the town by the victorious enemy.
Their homes were plundered, their treasures were in the
enemy's hands. With nothing left, save only the
clothes they wore, they were wandering through the
country in search of shelter.
Camillus was grieved for the misery of these poor folk.
When he saw that his soldiers also pitied them, he
determined still to go to the city, that he might wrest
it once again from the Etruscans, and restore the
Sutrians to their homes.
He foresaw that the victorious soldiers would be
feasting, that the gates would be unguarded.
And so it was. Camillus had no difficulty in seizing
the gates and manning the walls of Sutrium. Then he
ordered his soldiers to fall upon the merrymakers, who
were celebrating their victory with song and feast.
Many of the Etruscans surrendered, while others waited
like cowards to be slain. Sutrium was thus taken twice
in one day.