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Quote of the day: He called into his service twelve lictor
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 51: The Speech of Camillus against migrating to Veii.[390 BC]
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"So painful to me, Quirites, are controversies with the tribunes of the plebs, that all the time I lived at Ardea my one consolation in my bitter exile was that I was far removed from these conflicts. As far as they are concerned I would never have returned even if you recalled me by a thousand senatorial decrees and popular votes. And now that I am returned, it was not change of mind on my part but change of fortune on yours that compelled me. The question at stake was whether my country was to remain unshaken in her seat, not whether I was to be in my country at any cost. Even now I would gladly remain quiet and hold my peace, if I were not fighting another battle for my country. To be wanting to her, as long as life shall last, would be for other men a disgrace, for Camillus a downright sin. Why did we win her back, why did we, when she was beset by foes, deliver her from their hands, if, now that she is recovered, we desert her? Whilst the Gauls were victorious and the whole of the City in their power, the gods and men of Rome still held, still dwelt in, the Capitol and the Citadel. And now that the Romans are victorious and the City recovered, are the Citadel and Capitol to be abandoned? Shall our good fortune inflict greater desolation on this City than our evil fortune wrought? Even had there been no religious institutions established when the City was founded and passed down from hand to hand, still, so clearly has Providence been working in the affairs of Rome at this time, that I for one would suppose that all neglect of divine worship has been banished from human life. Look at the alternations of prosperity and adversity during these late years; you will find that all went well with us when we followed the divine guidance, and all was disastrous when we neglected it. Take first of all the war with Veii. For what a number of years and with what immense exertions it was carried on! It did not come to an end before the water was drawn off from the Alban Lake at the bidding of the gods. What, again, of this unparalleled disaster to our City? Did it burst upon us before the Voice sent from heaven announcing the approach of the Gauls was treated with contempt, before the law of nations had been outraged by our ambassadors, before we had, in the same irreligious spirit condoned that outrage when we ought to have punished it? And so it was that, defeated, captured, ransomed, we received such punishment at the hands of gods and men that we were a lesson to the whole world. Then, in our adversity, we bethought us of our religious duties. We fled to the gods in the Capitol, to the seat of Jupiter Optimus Maximus; amidst the ruin of all that we possessed we concealed some of the sacred treasures in the earth, the rest we carried out of the enemies' sight to neighbouring cities; abandoned as we were by gods and men, we still did not intermit the divine worship. It is because we acted thus that they have restored to us our native City, and victory and the renown in war which we had lost; but against the enemy, who, blinded by avarice, broke treaty and troth in the weighing of the gold, they have launched terror and rout and death." "Adeo mihi acerbae sunt, Quirites, contentiones cum tribunis plebis, ut nec tristissimi exsilii solacium aliud habuerim, quoad Ardeae uixi, quam quod procul ab his certaminibus eram, et ob eadem haec non si miliens senatus consulto populique iussu reuocaretis, rediturus unquam fuerim. Nec nunc me ut redirem mea uoluntas mutata sed uestra fortuna perpulit; quippe ut in sua sede maneret patria, id agebatur, non ut ego utique in patria essem. Et nunc quiescerem ac tacerem libenter nisi haec quoque pro patria dimicatio esset; cui deesse, quoad uita suppetat, aliis turpe, Camillo etiam nefas est. Quid enim repetiimus, quid obsessam ex hostium manibus eripuimus, si reciperatam ipsi deserimus? Et cum uictoribus Gallis capta tota urbe Capitolium tamen atque arcem dique et homines Romani tenuerint, uictoribus Romanis reciperata urbe arx quoque et Capitolium deseretur et plus uastitatis huic urbi secunda nostra fortuna faciet quam aduersa fecit? Equidem si nobis cum urbe simul positae traditaeque per manus religiones nullae essent, tamen tam euidens numen hac tempestate rebus adfuit Romanis ut omnem neglegentiam diuini cultus exemptam hominibus putem. Intuemini enim horum deinceps annorum uel secundas res uel aduersas; inuenietis omnia prospera euenisse sequentibus deos, aduersa spernentibus. Iam omnium primum, Veiens bellum—per quot annos, quanto labore gestum. —non ante cepit finem, quam monitu deorum aqua ex lacu Albano emissa est. Quid haec tandem urbis nostrae clades noua? Num ante exorta est quam spreta uox caelo emissa de aduentu Gallorum, quam gentium ius ab legatis nostris uiolatum, quam a nobis cum uindicari deberet eadem neglegentia deorum praetermissum? Igitur uicti captique ac redempti tantum poenarum dis hominibusque dedimus ut terrarum orbi documento essemus. Aduersae deinde res admonuerunt religionum. Confugimus in Capitolium ad deos, ad sedem Iouis optimi maximi; sacra in ruina rerum nostrarum alia terra celauimus, alia auecta in finitimas urbes amouimus ab hostium oculis; deorum cultum deserti ab dis hominibusque tamen non intermisimus. Reddidere igitur patriam et uictoriam et antiquum belli decus amissum, et in hostes qui caeci auaritia in pondere auri foedus ac fidem fefellerunt, uerterunt terrorem fugamque et caedem.