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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 4: The Revolt of the Latins and Campanians. Speech of Annius.[340 BC]
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After various opinions had been expressed, Annius spoke as follows: "Although it was I who put the question to you as to what answer should be given, I still think that it is of more importance to the interests of the State to decide what must be done rather than what must be said. When our plans are developed it will be easy enough to fit words to facts. If even now we are capable of submitting to servitude under the shadowy pretext of a treaty on equal terms, what is to prevent us from deserting the Sidicines and receiving our orders not only from the Romans but even from the Samnites, and giving as our reply that we are ready to lay down our arms at the beck and call of the Romans? But if your hearts are at last touched by any yearning for independence; if a treaty, an alliance, an equality of rights really exists; if we are at liberty to boast of the fact that the Romans are of the same stock as ourselves, though once we were ashamed of it; if our army, which when united with theirs doubles their strength, and which the consuls will not dispense with when conducting wars which concern them alone -- if, I say, that army is really an army of their allies, then why are we not on an equal footing in all respects? Why is not one consul elected from the Latins? Those who possess half the strength, do they possess half the government? This is not in itself too much honour for us, seeing that we acknowledge Rome to be the head of Latium, but we have made it appear so by our prolonged forbearance." |
"But if ever you longed for an opportunity of taking your place in the government and of making use of your liberty, now is the time; this is the opportunity which has been given you by your own courage and the goodness of the gods. You tried their patience by refusing to supply troops. Who doubts that they were intensely irritated when we broke through a custom more than two centuries old? Still they put up with the annoyance. We waged war with the Paelignians on our own account; they who before did not allow us the right to defend our own frontiers did not intervene. They heard that the Sidicines were received into our protection, that the Campanians had revolted from them to us, that we were preparing an army to act against the Samnites with whom they had a treaty, they never moved out of their City. What was this extraordinary self-restraint due to but to a consciousness of our strength and of theirs? I have it on good authority that when the Samnites were laying their complaints about us they received a reply from the Roman senate, from which it was quite evident that they themselves do not now claim that Latium is under the authority of Rome. Make your rights effective by insisting on what they are tacitly conceding to you. If any one is afraid of saying this, I declare my readiness to say it not only in the ears of the Roman people and their senate but in the audience of Jupiter himself who dwells in the Capitol, and to tell them that if they wish us to remain in alliance with them they must accept one consul from us and half their senate."
His speech was followed by a universal shout of approval, and he was empowered to do and to say whatever he deemed to be in furtherance of the interests of the State of Latium and of his own honour.
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