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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 38: Third war against Volscians. Speach of Attius Tullius[490 BC]
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As they were going along in an almost continuous stream, Tullius who had gone on in advance, waited for them at the Fountain of Ferentina. Accosting their chief men as they came up in tones of complaint and indignation, he led them, eagerly listening to words which accorded with their own angry feelings, and through them the multitude, down to the plain which stretched below the road. There he began a speech: "Even though you should forget the wrongs that Rome has inflicted and the defeats which the Volscian nation has suffered, though you should forget everything else, with what temper, I should like to know, do you brook this insult of yesterday, when they commenced their Games by treating us with ignominy? Have you not felt that they have won a triumph over you today, that as you departed you were a spectacle to the townsfolk, to the strangers, to all those neighbouring populations; that your wives, your children, were paraded as a gazing-stock before men's eyes? What do you suppose were the thoughts of those who heard the voice of the criers, those who watched us depart, those who met this ignominious cavalcade? What could they have thought but that there was some awful guilt cleaving to us, so that if we had been present at the Games we should have profaned them and made an expiation necessary, and that this was the reason why we were driven away from the abodes of these good and religious people and from all intercourse and association with them? Does it not occur to you that we owe our lives to the haste with which we departed if we may call it a departure and not a flight? And do you count this City as anything else than the City of your enemies where had you lingered a single day you would all have been put to death? War been declared against you to the great misery of those who have declared it if you are really men." |
So they dispersed to their homes, with their feelings of resentment embittered by this harangue. They so worked upon the feelings of their fellow-countrymen, each in his own city, that the whole Volscian nation revolted.