Mount Gaurus. Saticula. Suessula. And the awesome story of Publius Decius Mus, who singlehandedly saved a bunch of soldiers from certain death.
Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.
The Tale of Rome, Episode 31 — The Grass Crown.
We are in the year 343 BC.
Or — if you prefer, the year 411 since the creation of Rome.
It was also known as the year 166, if you would rather count from the founding of the Republic.
But if we want to count years the way Romans did, then we are in the year of the Consulships of Aulus Cornelius Cossus and Marcus Valerius Corvus — that is, the year 343 BC.
And here, we just made a roundabout with years, and numbers, and dates, and we’re still in the year 343 BC.
High summer – an hour before dawn.
When young Lucius finally saw the troops running towards the camp, and when he saw that – in fact, the Tribune was at their head, his heart went into overdrive.
He ran up the staircase of the tower, trying to see if his brother was among them, but it was still too dark.
Only silhouettes in the dark.
At that moment Marcus joined in.
— “Did you see Publius?”
— “Not yet! But they are running. Maybe the Samnites are behind them. Sound the alarm,” Lucius replied.
— “Open the gates!”
When Decius and the boys ran through the gate, and when the gates safely closed behind them, the entire legion burst into screams of joy.
After they did a recount, everyone realized that Publius Decius Mus, the Military Tribune of Aulus Cornelius Cossus, had not lost one single man, and even the Centurion of the legion came down to meet Decius, still trying to understand how everyone made it alive, from there.
When Corvus ordered his soldiers to march to Suessula, Cornelius Cossus was still two days away, so Valerius Corvus had only one option left.
The Romans were going to march so lightly that everything – and I mean, everything that was not absolutely essential, was to be left behind.
And, it turns out, that this decision of his, had consequences that not even Corvus himself imagined, because, when the Romans arrived in the vicinity of Suessula, and once they set up their military camp, the building materials were so scarce that the camp ended up being physically much smaller, than a typical Roman camp.
Samnites spies, seeing the size of the Roman camp, informed their chiefs that the Roman unit was not a whole legion — perhaps a third of a Legion, and all decisions the Samnites made from that point on, were based on that mistaken idea.