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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 4: War with Veii. Speech of Appius Claudius[403 BC]
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I [Note 1] shall subsequently show not only the expediency but even the necessity of the policy which my colleagues have adopted of refusing to withdraw the army from Veii until their object was effected. For the present I prefer to speak of the actual conditions under which it is serving, and if I were speaking not before you only but in the camp as well, I think that what I say would appear just and fair in the judgment of the soldiers themselves. Even if no arguments presented themselves to my mind, I should find those of my opponents quite sufficient for my purpose. They were saying lately that pay ought not to be given to the soldiers because it never had been given. How then can they now profess indignation at those who have gained additional benefits being required to undergo additional exertion in proportion? Nowhere do we find labour without its reward, nor, as a rule, reward without some expenditure of labour. Toil and pleasure, utterly dissimilar by nature, have been brought by nature into a kind of partnership with each other. Formerly, the soldier felt it a grievance that he gave his services to the State at his own cost, he had the satisfaction, however, of cultivating his land for a part of the year, and acquiring the means of supporting himself and his family whether he were at home or on service. Now he has the pleasure of knowing that the State is a source of income to him, and he is glad to receive his pay. Let him therefore take it patiently that he is a little longer absent from his home and his property, on which no heavy expense now falls. If the State were to call him to an exact reckoning, would it not be justified in saying, "You receive a year's pay, put in a year's work. Do you think it fair to receive a whole twelve-month's pay for six months' service?" It is with reluctance, Quirites, that I dwell on this topic, for it is those who employ mercenaries who ought to deal thus with them, but we want to deal with you as with fellow-citizens, and we think it only fair that you should deal with us as with your fatherland." |
"Either the war ought not to have been undertaken, or it ought to be conducted as befits the dignity of Rome and brought to a close as soon as possible. It will certainly be brought to a close if we press on the siege, but not if we retire before we have fulfilled our hopes by the capture of Veii. Why, good heavens! if there were no other reason, the very discredit of the thing ought to inspire us with perseverance. A city was once besieged by the whole of Greece for ten years, for the sake of one woman [Note 2], and at what a distance from home, how many lands and seas lay between! Are we growing tired of keeping up a siege for one year, not twenty miles off, almost within sight of the City? I suppose you think the reason for the war is a trivial one, and we do not feel enough just resentment to urge us to persevere. Seven times have they recommenced war against us; they have never loyally kept to the terms of peace; they have ravaged our fields a thousand times; they forced the Fidenates to revolt; they slew the colonists whom we settled there; they instigated the impious murder of our ambassadors in violation of the law of nations; they wanted to raise the whole of Etruria against us, and they are trying to do so today; when we sent ambassadors to demand satisfaction, they very nearly outraged them."