Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sallust – Fragmenta Historiarum

[3.64] [3.96M]  They hardened their spears with fire which, apart from the appearance which is necessary for war, could do almost as much harm as iron. But, while the fugitive slaves were engaged in these activities, some of the [Roman] soldiers were ill from the oppressive autumn climate; none had come back from the previous rout, even though they had been sternly ordered to return; and those who remained were shamelessly avoiding their military duties. Varinius sent his quaestor C. Thoranius to Rome, so that they could easily learn the real state of affairs from him there. Meanwhile he took those soldiers who were willing to follow him, four thousand in number, and encamped near [the slaves], surrounding his camp with a rampart, ditch and huge fortifications. The slaves had used up all their provisions, and wanted to avoid attack from the nearby enemy while they were foraging. They used to keep watches and stand guard and carry out the other duties of regular soldiers. About the second watch [of the night] they all went out of their camp in silence, leaving behind one trumpeter. To give the appearance of guards to anyone in the distance, they propped up the bodies of men who had recently been killed on stakes outside the gate, and lit many fires, which would be enough to frighten off Varinius' soldiers . . . their journey . . . [ 4 lines missing ] . . . they turned onto an impassable route. But Varinius, when it was now fully light, noticed the absence of the slaves' usual taunts, of the showers of stones thrown into the camp, and of the shouts and din of men [rushing all around]. He sent his cavalry up [a hill which rose] nearby, to seek out and quickly [pursue the enemy]. He himself, although he believed that [the slaves had gone] far away, was still afraid [of an ambush], and [withdrew in a secure] formation, in order to double his army [with new recruits]. But . . . Cumae . . . [ 5 lines missing ] . . .   # [After] a few days, our men became more confident than usual and there was some swaggering talk. This prompted Varinius to move rashly against a known danger with soldiers who were new, untried, and daunted by the disasters which the others had suffered. He led them at full speed against the slaves' camp, but now they were quiet and did not enter battle as boastfully as they had previously demanded it. But [the slaves] were almost at blows with each other, because they could not agree on a plan of action; Crixus and his fellow Gauls and Germans wanted to go out to confront [the Romans] and offer battle, while Spartacus [argued against attacking them].

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