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Quote of the day: Lucius Tarquitius, a member of a patrici
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 9: Commotion in 12 colonies[209 BC]
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The deportation of the soldiers to Sicily, most of whom belonged to the Latin and the allied nationalities, very nearly caused a great rising; so often do small occasions involve serious consequences. Meetings were held amongst the Latins and the allied communities in which they complained loudly that for ten years they had been drained by levies and war-taxes; every year they fought only to sustain a great defeat, those who were not killed in battle were carried off by sickness. A fellow-citizen who was enlisted by the Romans was more lost to them than one who had been made prisoner by the Carthaginians, for the latter was sent back to his home without ransom, the former was sent out of Italy into what was really exile rather than military service. There the men who had fought at Cannae had been for eight years wearing out their lives, and there they would die before the enemy, who had never been stronger than he was today, quitted Italian soil. If the old soldiers were not to return, and fresh ones were always being enlisted, there would soon be nobody left. They would be compelled therefore, before they reached the last stage of depopulation and famine, to refuse to Rome what the necessities of their situation would very soon make it impossible to grant. If the Romans saw that this was the unanimous determination of their allies, they would assuredly begin to think about making peace with Carthage. Otherwise Italy would never be free from war as long as Hannibal was alive. Such was the general tone of the meetings. There were at the time thirty colonies belonging to Rome. Twelve of these announced to the consuls [Note 1] through their representatives in Rome that they had no means from which to furnish either men or money. The colonies in question were Ardea, Nepete, Sutrium, Alba, Carseoli, Sora, Suessa, Cercei, Setia, Cales, Narnia and Interamna. The consuls, startled by this unprecedented step, wanted to frighten them out of such a detestable course, and thought that they would succeed better by uncompromising sternness than by adopting gentle methods. "You colonists," they said, "have dared to address us, the consuls, in language which we cannot bring ourselves to repeat openly in the senate, for it is not simply a refusal of military obligations, but an open revolt against Rome. You must go back to your respective colonies at once, while your treason is still confined to words, and consult your people. You are not Capuans or Tarentines, but Romans, from Rome you sprang, from Rome you have been planted in colonies on land taken from the enemy, in order that you may augment her dominion. Whatever duties children owe to their parents, you owe to Rome, if indeed you feel a spark of affection for her or cherish any memories of your mother country. So you must begin your deliberations afresh, for what you are now so recklessly contemplating means the betrayal of the sovereignty of Rome and the surrender of victory into the hands of Hannibal." Such were the arguments which each of the consuls advanced at considerable length, but they produced no impression. The envoys said that there was no reply for them to take home, nor was there any other policy for their senate to consider since there was not a man left for conscription nor any money for his pay. As the consuls saw that their determination was unshaken they brought the matter before the senate. Here such general consternation and alarm were felt that most of the senators declared that the empire was doomed, other colonies would take the same course, as would also the allies; all had agreed together to betray the City of Rome to Hannibal.

Note 1: consuls = Fabius and Fulvius

Commotion in 12 colonies

Event: Commotion in 12 colonies