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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 72: The quarrel between Aricia and Ardea.[446 BC]
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When the consuls saw that Scaptius was listened to not only in silence but even with approval, they called gods and men to witness that a monstrous injustice was being perpetrated, and sent for the leaders of the senate. Accompanied by them they went amongst the tribes and implored them not to commit the worst of crimes and establish a still worse precedent by perverting justice to their own advantage. Even supposing it were permissible for a judge to look after his own interest, they would certainly never gain by appropriating the disputed territory as much as they would lose by estranging the feelings of their allies through their injustice. The damage done to their good name and credit would be incalculable. Were the envoys to carry back this to their home, was it to go out to the world, was it to reach the ears of their allies and of their enemies? With what pain the former would receive it, with what joy the latter! Did they suppose that the surrounding nations would fix the responsibility for it on Scaptius, a mob-orator in his dotage? To him it might be a patent of nobility, but on the Roman people it would stamp a character for trickery and fraud. For what judge has ever dealt with a private suit so as to adjudge to himself the property in dispute? Even Scaptius would not do that, although he has outlived all sense of shame. |
In spite of these earnest appeals which the consuls and senators made, cupidity and Scaptius its instigator prevailed. The tribes, when called upon to vote, decided that it was part of the public domain of Rome. It is not denied that the result would have been the same had the case gone before other judges, but as it is, the disgrace attaching to the judgment is not in the least degree lightened by any justice in the case, nor did it appear more ugly and tyrannical to the people of Ardea than it did to the Roman senate.
Event: Quarrel of Aricia and Ardea