Caedes

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Proxima forte hosti erat cohors Paeligna, cuius praefectus Vibius Accaus arreptum vexillum trans vallum hostium traiecit. exsecratus inde seque et cohortem, si eius vexilli hostes potiti essent, princeps ipse per fossam vallumque in castra irrupit. iamque intra vallum Paeligni pugnabant, cum altera parte, Valerio Flacco tribuno militum tertiae legionis exprobrante Romanis ignaviam qui sociis captorum castrorum concederent decus, T. Pedanius princeps primus centurio, cum signifero signum ademisset, “iam hoc signum et hic centurio” inquit “intra vallum hostium erit; sequantur qui capi signum ab hoste prohibituri sunt.” manipulares sui primum transcendentem fossam, dein legio tota secuta est. iam et consul, ad conspectum transgredientium vallum mutato consilio ab revocando ad incitandos hortandosque versus milites, ostendere in quanto discrimine ac periculo fortissima cohors sociorum et civium legio esset. itaque pro se quisque omnes per aequa atque iniqua loca, cum undique tela conicerentur armaque et corpora hostes obicerent, pervadunt irrumpuntque; multi volnerati etiam quos vires et sanguis desereret, ut intra vallum hostium caderent nitebantur. capta itaque momento temporis velut in plano sita nec permunita castra. caedes inde, non iam pugna erat omnibus intra vallum permixtis.
(Livy 25.14.4-10)

Nearest to the enemy happened to be a Paelignian cohort, whose prefect Vibius Accaus seized the banner and threw it over the enemy’s earthwork. Then, with a curse upon himself and the cohort if the enemy should get possession of that banner, he was himself the first to dash over the trench and wall into the camp. And already the Paelignians were fighting inside the wall, when from the other side of the camp, while Valerius Flaccus, tribune of the soldiers of the third legion, was reproaching the Romans for their cowardice in yielding to allies the honour of capturing the camp, Titus Pedanius, first centurion of the principes, took a standard away from the standard-bearer and said “This standard and this centurion will in a moment be inside the enemy’s wall. Let those follow who are to prevent the standard from being captured by the enemy.” First the men of his own maniple followed him as he crossed the trench, then the whole legion. And now the consul at the sight of men crossing the wall changed his plan, turned from recalling his soldiers to arousing and encouraging them, and pointed out to them in what a critical and perilous situation were the bravest cohort of the allies and a legion of their fellow-citizens. And so, each doing his best, over ground favourable and unfavourable, while javelins were being hurled from every side and the enemy were interposing weapons and their bodies, they made their way and burst in. Many wounded men, even those whose strength and blood were ebbing, strove to fall inside the enemy’s wall. And so in a moment’s time the camp was captured, just as if pitched on level ground and not strongly fortified. Then came slaughter, no longer mere battle, since everything inside the wall was in confusion. (tr. Frank Gardner Moore)

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