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FABIUS AMONG THE CIMINIAN HILLS
 ONE of the most famous heroes of the second Samnite war was
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
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
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
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
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
The Consuls then pursued the enemy across the Ciminian
hills, which hills we now know as the mountains of
In these days of long ago, the Ciminian hills were
densely-wooded, and strange stories were told of their
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
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
 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
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
But a Dictator must be appointed by one of the Consuls,
and Marcius was either dead or in the hands of his
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
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
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
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