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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 10: New war against Aequi and Volscians[462-1 BC]
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Lucretius returned with an immense amount of booty, and with a still more brilliant reputation. This prestige he enhanced on his arrival by laying out all the booty in the Campus Martius for three days, that each person might recognise and take away his own property. The rest, for which no owners appeared, was sold. By universal consent a triumph was due to the consul, but the matter was delayed through the action of the tribune, who was pressing his measure. The consul regarded this as the more important question. For some days the subject was discussed both in the senate and the popular assembly. At last the tribune yielded to the supreme authority of the consul and dropped his measure. Then the consul and his army received the honour they deserved; at the head of his victorious legions he celebrated his triumph over the Volscians and Aequi. The other consul was allowed to enter the City without his troops and enjoy an ovation. |
The following year the new consuls, Publius Volumnius and Servius Sulpicius, were confronted by the proposed law of Terentilius, which was now brought forward by the whole college of tribunes. During the year, the sky seemed to be on fire; there was a great earthquake; an ox was believed to have spoken -- the year before this rumour found no credence. Amongst other portents it rained flesh and an enormous number of birds are said to have seized it while they were flying about; what fell to the ground lay about for several days without giving out any bad smell. The Sibylline Books were consulted by the duumviri," and a prediction was found of dangers which would result from a gathering of aliens, attempts on the highest points of the City and consequent bloodshed. Amongst other notices, there was a solemn warning to abstain from all seditious agitations. The tribunes alleged that this was done to obstruct the passing of the Law, and a desperate conflict seemed imminent.
As though to show how events revolve in the same cycle year by year, the Hernici reported that the Volscians and Aequi, in spite of their exhaustion, were equipping fresh armies. Antium was the centre of the movement; the colonists of Antium were holding public meetings in Ecetra, the capital, and the main strength of the war. On this information being laid before the senate, orders were given for a levy. The consuls were instructed to divide the operations between them; the Volscians were to be the province of the one, the Aequi of the other. The tribunes, even in face of the consuls, filled the Forum with their shouts, declaring that the story of a Volscian war was a prearranged comedy, the Hernici had been prepared beforehand for the part they were to play; the liberties of the Roman were not being repressed by straightforward opposition, but were being cunningly fooled away. It was impossible to persuade them that the Volscians and Aequi, after being almost exterminated, could themselves commence hostilities; a new enemy, therefore, was being sought for; a colony which had been a loyal neighbour was being covered with infamy. It was against the unoffending people of Antium that war was declared; it was against the Roman plebs that war was really being waged. After loading them with arms they would drive them in hot haste out of the City, and wreak their vengeance on the tribunes by sentencing their fellow-citizens to banishment. By this means -- they might be quite certain -- the Law would be defeated; unless, while the question was still undecided, and they were still at home, still unenrolled, they took steps to prevent their being ousted from their occupation of the City, and forced under the yoke of servitude. If they showed courage, help would not be wanting, the tribunes were unanimous. There was no cause for alarm; no danger from abroad. The gods had taken care, the previous year, that their liberties should be safely protected.