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
But three years later their armies were defeated by the
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
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
But his father pleaded that his son might be spared so
heavy a punishment. If he was allowed to keep his
com-  mand, 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
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.