Francesco Salviati, Triumph of Furius Camillus

CAMILLUS (PART 1.)



Carpe fatum, my friends.

Today we will be introduced to Camillus, a famous Roman general. His story is one that would have been told to a young Julius Caesar. It was an important story to the Romans; they would tell it often to new generals and to leaders of state who had just been elected. Though the history of Camillus is just as much myth as it is reality, there is still much to be learned from it.


The year is 406 BCE. The young city of Rome has just declared war on the significantly more powerful city of Etruria. The siege was not nearly as successful as the Romans had hoped, and it lasted for 5 years without any favourable outcome.


Frustrated and concerned, the Senators of Rome looked to each other with unease.
“This war is pointless!” cried one.
“It’ll be the end of our army if we keep going like this!” exclaimed another
“Shall we order a full retreat? Is it time to abandon the campaign?” such nervous questioning began spread throughout the Senate until one man said forebodingly, “NoThere is one man who could turn the tide of this war. We need only ask.”
“But he’s insatiable! A wild animal!”
“It is the only way.”


The Romans called in Camillus. 


He was given a significant amount of military and governmental power and sent off to conquer Etruria.


He knew that he could not defeat Etruria immediately in open battle; he had to weaken their allies first in order to stop the flow of troops to Etruria. Within “a very short time’’ he stormed two powerful allied cities of Etruria, conquering Capena and routing Falerii.


That was good enough for the Senate, as surely the rest of the military commanders could take it from there. Camillus was stripped of his powers and was told to return to Rome.


Fools!


Two years after Camillus had been stripped of his power, Rome suffered several severe defeats. This was now the tenth year of the war, and the people had grown weary of it.


Once again, the Senate trepidatiously brought Camillus back into the fray, granting him nigh-unchecked power.

Not only did Camillus immediately crush all of Etruria’s allies, but he also conducted one of the most Alexander-esque sieges the Romans would ever endeavour.


 (recall the blog about the Gordian Knot)


Camillus had his men dig up the ground around the capitol of Etruria, Veii. They continued digging until they arrived at a man-made underground river–the sewer. The soldiers looked to each other in disgust; “there’s no way we’re going in there,” they said.
Then Camillus jumped into the sewer and called his army to follow him!
He led his army through the sewers of Veii until they reached the center of the city, and then launched a surprise attack on the capitol.


Can you imagine what that would have looked like to the average Etrurian? A bunch of bloodthirsty Roman soldiers, being led by the infamous mad-dog Camillus, rushing out of a sewer– covered in everything that would have been in a sewer– all rushing towards you?


Needless to say, Camillus took the city almost effortlessly. 


After the battle however, the story turns tragic. Camillus organized his own celebration in Rome, carousing for days on end. Plutarch writes:

“Camillus… assumed more to himself than was becoming of a civil and legal magistrate; in the pride and haughtiness of his triumph he drove through Rome in a chariot drawn by four white horses, which no general either before or since ever did; for the Romans consider such a mode of conveyance to be sacred, and especially set apart to the king and father of the gods. This alienated the hearts of his fellow-citizens, who were not accustomed to such pomp and display.”



Because the populous feared that he may try to become a tyrant, Camillus was banished from Rome. 


It seems his arrogance proved to be his downfall.


This is not the end of his story though, Next week we will see what Camillus did when Rome was attacked.


We can learn many things from Camillus. He teaches us that your reputation will always precede you; whether an ancient Roman or a contemporary Canadian, people will always judge you by what’s been said about you, rather than who you truly are. He teaches us that sometimes strength and direct confrontation is not the way to win the war; sometimes we must think differently, we have to consider what no one else would do, and we have to be willing to get very dirty to get the job done. He teaches us that leading by example is always the most effective way to inspire those around you. Who led the Romans through the sewer? Not Camillus’ lieutenants, but Camillus himself. Finally– and most importantly– we must  remember to remain humble, even after our most glorious victories, for even if we’ve just seized our fate, gloating about it will only bring people to loathe you.


Be and don’t be like Camillus, my friends.


Carpe Fatum.




Sincerely,


The Golden Scribe


“The unexamined life is not worth living.”  -Socrates

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George Botros
Chief Executive Officer

George Botros was appointed as CEO of Alta West Capital in April 2021. Prior to his role as CEO, George served as Alta West Capital’s CFO and CCO from 2014 to 2021. He has over 20 years in the lending business, participating in residential, commercial, mezzanine, and interim financing related activities.

 

George is also a Director of the funds Alta West administers. Prior to joining Alta West Capital, he managed Toro Financial Corporation which amalgamated with AWM Diversified MIC, an entity managed by AWC, in 2014. George was also a University Professor teaching Finance and Economics for University of Lethbridge.

 

George holds a Bachelor of Economics and an MBA.