|Religion||Subjects||Images||Queries||Links||Contact||Do not fly Iberia|
Do not display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IX Chapter 1: War with the Samnites. Speech of Pontius.[321 BC]
Return to index
The following year (321 B.C.) was rendered memorable by the disaster which befell the Romans at Caudium and the capitulation which they made there. Titus Veturius Calvinus and Spurius Postumius were the consuls. The Samnites had for their captain-general that year Gaius Pontius, the son of Herennius, the ablest statesman they possessed, whilst the son was their foremost soldier and commander. |
When the envoys who had been sent with the terms of surrender returned from their fruitless mission, Pontius made the following speech in the Samnite council: "Do not suppose that this mission has been barren of results. We have gained this much by it, whatever measure of divine wrath we may have incurred by our violation of treaty obligations has now been atoned for. I am perfectly certain that all those deities whose will it was that we should be reduced to the necessity of making the restitution which was demanded under the terms of the treaty, have viewed with displeasure the haughty contempt with which the Romans have treated our concessions. What more could we have done to placate the wrath of heaven or soften the resentment of men than we have done? The property of the enemy, which we considered ours by the rights of war, we have restored; the author of the war, whom we could not surrender alive, we gave up after he had paid his debt to nature, and lest any taint of guilt should remain with us we carried his possessions to Rome. What more, Romans, do I owe to you or to the treaty or to the gods who were invoked as witnesses to the treaty? What arbitrator am I to bring forward to decide how far your wrath, how far my punishment is to go? I am willing to accept any, whether it he a nation or a private individuaI. But if human law leaves no rights which the weak share with the stronger, I can still fly to the gods, the avengers of intolerable tyranny, and I will pray them to turn their wrath against those for whom it is not enough to have their own restored to them and to he loaded also with what belongs to others, whose cruel rage is not satiated by the death of the guilty and the surrender of their lifeless remains together with their property, who cannot he appeased unless we give them our very blood to suck and our bowels to tear. A war is just and right, Samnites, when it is forced upon us; arms are blessed by heaven when there is no hope except in arms. Since then it is of supreme importance in human affairs what things men do under divine favour and what they do against the divine will, he well assured that, if in your former wars you were fighting against the gods even more than against men, in this war which is impending you will have the gods themselves to lead you."
|Sequitur hunc annum nobilis clade Romana Caudina pax T. Veturio Caluino Sp. Postumio consulibus. Samnites eo anno imperatorem C. Pontium Herenni filium habuerunt, patre longe prudentissimo natum, primum ipsum bellatorem ducemque. Is, ubi legati qui ad dedendas res missi erant pace infecta redierunt, "ne nihil actum" inquit "hac legatione censeatis, expiatum est quidquid ex foedere rupto irarum in nos caelestium fuit. Satis scio, quibuscumque dis cordi fuit subigi nos ad necessitatem dedendi res quae ab nobis ex foedere repetitae fuerant, iis non fuisse cordi tam superbe ab Romanis foederis expiationem spretam. Quid enim ultra fieri ad placandos deos mitigandosque homines potuit quam quod nos fecimus? res hostium in praeda captas, quae belli iure nostrae uidebantur, remisimus; auctores belli, quia uiuos non potuimus, perfunctos iam fato dedidimus; bona eorum, ne quid ex contagione noxae remaneret penes nos, Romam portauimus. Quid ultra tibi, Romane, quid foederi, quid dis arbitris foederis debeo? quem tibi tuarum irarum, quem meorum suppliciorum iudicem feram? neminem, neque populum neque priuatum, fugio. Quod si nihil cum potentiore iuris humani relinquitur inopi, at ego ad deos uindices intolerandae superbiae confugiam et precabor, ut iras suas uertant in eos quibus non suae redditae res, non alienae accumulatae satis sint; quorum saeuitiam non mors noxiorum, non deditio exanimatorum corporum, non bona sequentia domini deditionem exsatient, [placari nequeant] nisi hauriendum sanguinem laniandaque uiscera nostra praebuerimus. Iustum est bellum, Samnites, quibus necessarium, et pia arma, quibus nulla nisi in armis relinquitur spes. Proinde, cum rerum humanarum maximum momentum sit quam propitiis rem, quam aduersis agant dis, pro certo habete priora bella aduersus deos magis quam homines gessisse, hoc quod instat ducibus ipsis dis gesturos."|