|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|From the Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius|
|By Cato the Elder (234149 B.C.)|
| || [The extract given below, as will be seen, is quoted for the most part not from Cato but from Aulus Gellius. However, the practice of Gellius on other occasions where we are able to compare his text with the original, indicates that he merely modernized Catos phraseology. In many cases such changes probably make no difference at all in the modern rendering.]|
|MARCUS CATO, in his book of Origins, has recorded an act of Quintus Cædicius, a military tribune, really illustrious, and worthy of being celebrated with the solemnity of Grecian eloquence. It is nearly to this effect:The Carthaginian general in Sicily, in the first Punic war, advancing to meet the Roman army, first occupied some hills and convenient situations. The Romans, as it happened, got into a spot open to surprise, and very dangerous. The tribune came to the consul, pointing out the danger from the inconvenience of the spot, and the surrounding enemy. I think, says he, if you would save us, you must immediately order certain four hundred to advance to yonder wart (for thus Cato indicated a rugged and elevated place) and command them to take possession of it; when the enemy shall see this, every one among them that is brave and ardent will be intent on attacking and frightening them, and will be occupied by this business alone, and these four hundred men will doubtless all be slain;you, whilst the enemy shall be engaged in slaughter, will have an opportunity of withdrawing the army from this place: there is no other possible method of escape.|| 1|
| The consul replied that the advice appeared wise and good. But whom, says he, shall I find, that will lead these four hundred men to that spot against the battalions of the enemy?If, answered the tribune, you find no one else, employ me in this dangerous enterprise; I offer my life to you and my country.|| 2|
| The consul thanked and praised him. The tribune, with his four hundred men, advanced to death. The enemy, astonished at their boldness, waited to see where they were going; but when it appeared that they were marching to take possession of the hill, the Carthaginian general sent against them the ablest men of his army, both horse and foot. The Roman soldiers were surrounded, and being surrounded, fought; the contest was long doubtful, but numbers at length prevailed; the four hundred, to a man, were either slain with the sword or buried under missile weapons. The consul, in the interval of the engagement, withdrew his troops to a spot high and secure, but the event which happened to this tribune who commanded the four hundred, I shall subjoin, not in my own but Catos words: The immortal gods gave the military tribune a fortune suitable to his valor: for thus it happened, when he was wounded in every other part, his head alone was unhurt, and when they distinguished him amongst the dead, exhausted with wounds, and breathing with difficulty from loss of blood, they bore him off. He recovered, and often afterwards performed bold and eminent services to his country; and this exploit of his detaching these troops preserved the remainder of the army. But the place where the same deed is done, is of great importance. Leonidas of Lacedæmon, whose conduct was the same at Thermopylæ, is extolled; on account of his virtues all Greece celebrated his glory, and raised his name to the highest degree of eminence, testifying their gratitude for his exploit by monuments, trophies, statues, panegyrics, histories, and other similar means. But to this tribune of the people, who did the same thing, and saved his country, small praise has been assigned.|| 3|