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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 39: Third war with the Volscians. Rome Threatened.[489 BC]
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By the unanimous vote of the states, the conduct of the war was entrusted to Attius Tullius and Gnaeus Marcius, the Roman exile, on whom their hopes chiefly rested. He fully justified their expectations, so that it became quite evident that the strength of Rome lay in her generals rather than in her army. |
He first marched against Cerceii, expelled the Roman colony and handed it over to the Volscians as a free city. Then he took: Satricum, Longula, Polusca, and Corioli, towns which the Romans had recently acquired. Marching across country into the Latin road he recovered Lavinium, and then, in succession, Corbio, Vetellia, Trebium Labici, and Pedum. Finally, he advanced from Pedum against the City. He entrenched his camp at the Cluilian Dykes, about five miles distant, and from there he ravaged the Roman territory. The raiding parties were accompanied by men whose business it was to see that the lands of the patricians were not touched; a measure due either to his rage being especially directed against the plebeians, or to his hope that dissensions might arise between them and the patricians. These certainly would have arisen -- to such a pitch were the tribunes exciting the plebs by their attacks on the chief men of the State -- had not the fear of the enemy outside -- the strongest bond of union -- brought men together in spite of their mutual suspicions and aversion. On one point they disagreed; the senate and the consuls placed their hopes solely in arms, the plebeians preferred anything to war.
Spurius Nautius and Sextus Furius were now consul. Whilst they were reviewing the legions and manning the walls and stationing troops in various places, an enormous crowd gathered together. At first they alarmed the consuls by seditious shouts, and at last they compelled them to convene the senate and submit a motion for sending ambassadors to Gnaeus Marcius. As the courage of the plebeians was evidently giving way, the senate accepted the motion, and a deputation was sent to Marcius with proposals for peace. They brought back the stern reply: If the territory were restored to the Volscians, the question of peace could be discussed; but if they wished to enjoy the spoils of war at their ease, he had not forgotten the wrongs inflicted by his country-men nor the kindness shown by those who were now his hosts, and would strive to make it clear that his spirit had been roused, not broken, by his exile. The same envoys were sent on a second mission, but were not admitted into the camp. According to the tradition, the priests also in their robes went as suppliants to the enemies' camp, but they had no more influence with him than the previous deputation.
|Imperatores ad id bellum de omnium populorum sententia lecti Attius Tullius et Cn. Marcius, exsul Romanus, in quo aliquanto plus spei repositum. Quam spem nequaquam fefellit, ut facile appareret ducibus ualidiorem quam exercitu rem Romanam esse. Circeios profectus primum colonos inde Romanos expulit liberamque eam urbem Volscis tradidit; Satricum, Longulam, Poluscam, Coriolos, nouella haec Romanis oppida ademit; inde Lauinium recepit; inde in Latinam uiam transuersis tramitibus transgressus, tunc deinceps Corbionem, Veteliam, Trebium, Labicos, Pedum cepit. Postremum ad urbem a Pedo ducit, et ad fossas Cluilias quinque ab urbe milia passuum castris positis, populatur inde agrum Romanum, custodibus inter populatores missis qui patriciorum agros intactos seruarent, siue infensus plebi magis, siue ut discordia inde inter patres plebemque oreretur. Quae profecto orta esset—adeo tribuni iam ferocem per se plebem criminando in primores ciuitatis instigabant—; sed externus timor, maximum concordiae uinculum, quamuis suspectos infensosque inter se iungebat animos. Id modo non conueniebat quod senatus consulesque nusquam alibi spem quam in armis ponebant, plebes omnia quam bellum malebat. Sp. Nautius iam et Sex. Furius consules erant. Eos recensentes legiones, praesidia per muros aliaque in quibus stationes uigiliasque esse placuerat loca distribuentes, multitudo ingens pacem poscentium primum seditioso clamore conterruit, deinde uocare senatum, referre de legatis ad Cn. Marcium mittendis coegit. Acceperunt relationem patres, postquam apparuit labare plebis animos; missique de pace ad Marcium oratores atrox responsum rettulerunt: si Volscis ager redderetur, posse agi de pace: si praeda belli per otium frui uelint, memorem se et ciuium iniuriae et hospitum beneficii adnisurum, ut appareat exsilio sibi inritatos, non fractos animos esse. Iterum deinde iidem missi non recipiuntur in castra. Sacerdotes quoque suis insignibus uelatos isse supplices ad castra hostium traditum est; nihilo magis quam legatos flexisse animum.|