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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 1: Veii elects a king.[403 BC]
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Whilst peace prevailed elsewhere, Rome and Veii were confronting each other in arms, animated by such fury and hatred that utter ruin clearly awaited the vanquished. Each elected their magistrates, but on totally different principles. The Romans increased the number of their consular tribunes to eight -- a larger number than had ever been elected before. They were Manius Aemilius Mamercus -- for the second time --, Lucius Valerius Potitus -- for the third time --, Appius Claudius Crassus, Marcus Quinctilius Varus, Lucius Julius Julus, Marcus Postumius, Marcus Furius Camillus, and Marcus Postumius Albinus. The Veientines, on the other hand, tired of the annual canvassing for office, elected a king. This gave great offence to the Etruscan cantons owing to their hatred of monarchy and their personal aversion to the one who was elected. He was already obnoxious to the nation through his pride of wealth and overbearing temper, for he had put a violent stop to the festival of the Games, the interruption of which is an act of impiety. His candidature for the priesthood (1) had been unsuccessful, another being preferred by the vote of the twelve cantons, and in revenge he suddenly withdrew the performers, most of whom were his own slaves, in the middle of the Games. The Etruscans as a nation were distinguished above all others by their devotion to religious observances, because they excelled in the knowledge and conduct of them, and they decided, in consequence, that no assistance should be given to the Veientines as long as they were under a king. The report of this decision was suppressed at Veii through fear of the king; he treated those who mentioned anything of the kind, not as authors of an idle tale, but as ringleaders of sedition. |
Although the Romans had received intelligence that there was no movement on the part of the Etruscans, still, as it was reported that the matter was being discussed in all their councils, they so constructed their lines as to present a double face, the one fronting Veii to prevent sorties from the city, the other looking towards Etruria to intercept any succour from that side.
(1): Priesthood. A national priest was elected annually to organise the Games and other State solemnities.