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Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 45: League with the Latins.
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After the State was augmented by the expansion of the City and all domestic arrangements adapted to the requirements of both peace and war, Servius endeavoured to extend his dominion by state-craft, instead of aggrandising it by arms, and at the same time made an addition to the adornment of the City. The temple of the Ephesian Diana was famous at that time, and it was reported to have been built by the cooperation of the states of Asia. Servius had been careful to form ties of hospitality and friendship with the chiefs of the Latin nation, and he used to speak in the highest praise of that cooperation and the common recognition of the same deity. By constantly dwelling on this theme he at length induced the Latin tribes tribes join with the people of Rome in building a temple to Diana in Rome. Their doing so was an admission of the predominance of Rome; a question which had so often been disputed by arms. Though the Latins, after their many unfortunate experiences in war, had as a nation laid aside all thoughts of success, there was amongst the Sabines one man who believed that an opportunity presented itself of recovering the supremacy through his own individual cunning. |
The story runs that a man of substance belonging to that nation had a heifer of marvellous size and beauty. The marvel was attested in after ages by the horns which were fastened up in the vestibule of the temple of Diana. The creature was looked upon as - what it really was - a prodigy, and the soothsayers predicted that, whoever sacrificed it to Diana, the state of which he was a citizen should be the seat of empire. This prophecy had reached the ears of the official in charge of the temple of Diana. When the first day on which the sacrifice could properly be offered arrived the Sabine drove the heifer to Rome, took it to the temple and placed it front of the altar. The official in charge was a Roman, and, struck by the size of the victim which was well known by report he recalled the prophecy and addressing the Sabine said, "Why, pray, are you, stranger, preparing to offer a polluted sacrifice to Diana? Go and bathe yourself first in running water. The Tiber is flowing down there at the bottom of the valley." Filled with misgivings, and anxious for everything to be done properly that the prediction might be fulfilled, the stranger promptly went down to the Tiber. Meanwhile the Roman sacrificed the heifer to Diana. This was a cause of intense gratification to the king and to his people.