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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 36: War with Velitrae.[370 BC]
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Fortunately, with one exception, there was a respite from foreign war. The colonists of Velitrae, becoming wanton in a time of peace and in the absence of any Roman army, made various incursions into Roman territory and began an attack on Tusculum. The citizens, allies of old, and now citizens, implored help, and their situation moved not only the senate, but the plebs as well, with a sense of shame. The tribunes of the plebs gave way and the elections were conducted by an interrex. The consular tribunes elected were: Lucius Furius, Aulus Manlius, Servius Sulpicius, Servius Cornelius, Publius and Gaius Valerius. They did not find the plebeians nearly so amenable in the enlistment as they had been in the elections; it was only after a very great struggle that an army was raised. They not only dislodged the enemy from before Tusculum, but forced him to take refuge behind his walls. The siege of Velitrae was carried on with far greater vigour than that of Tusculum had been. Those commanders who had commenced the investment did not, however, effect its capture. |
The new consular tribunes were: Quintus Servilius, Gaius Veturius, Aulus and Marcus Cornelius, Quintus Quinctius, and Marcus Fabius. Even under these tribunes nothing worth mention took place at Velitrae.
At home affairs were becoming more critical. Sextius and Licinius, the original proposers of the laws, who had been re-elected tribunes of the plebs for the eighth time, were now supported by Fabius Ambustus, Licinius Stolo's father-in-law. He came forward as the decided advocate of the measures which he had initiated, and whereas there had at first been eight members of the college of tribunes who had vetoed the proposals, there were now only five. These five, as usually happens with men who desert their party, were embarrassed and dismayed, and defended their opposition by borrowed arguments privately suggested to them by the patricians. They urged that as a large number of plebeians were in the army at Velitrae the Assembly ought to be adjourned till the return of the soldiers, to allow of the entire body of the plebs voting on matters affecting their interests. Sextius and Licinius, experts after so many years' practice in the art of handling the plebs, in conjunction with some of their colleagues and the consular tribune, Fabius Ambustus, brought forward the leaders of the patrician party and worried them with questions on each of the measures they were referring to the people. "Have you," they asked, "the audacity to demand that whilst two jugera are allotted to each plebeian, you yourselves should each occupy more than five hundred jugera, so that while a singe patrician can occupy the land of nearly three hundred citizens, the holding of a plebeian is hardly extensive enough for the roof he needs to shelter him, or the place where he is to be buried? Is it your pleasure that the plebeians, crushed by debt, should surrender their persons to fetters and punishments sooner than that they should discharge their debts by repaying the principal? That, they should be led off in crowds from the Forum as the property of their creditors? That the houses of the nobility should be filled with prisoners, and wherever a patrician lives there should be a private dungeon?"
Event: War with Velitrae
|Alia bella opportune quieuere: Veliterni coloni gestientes otio quod nullus exercitus Romanus esset, et agrum Romanum aliquotiens incursauere et Tusculum oppugnare adorti sunt; eaque res Tusculanis, ueteribus sociis, nouis ciuibus, opem orantibus uerecundia maxime non patres modo sed etiam plebem mouit. remittentibus tribunis plebis comitia per interregem sunt habita; creatique tribuni militum L. Furius A. Manlius Ser. Sulpicius Ser. Cornelius P. et C. Valerii. haudquaquam tam oboedientem in dilectu quam in comitiis plebem habuere; ingentique contentione exercitu scripto profecti non ab Tusculo modo summouere hostem sed intra suamet ipsum moenia compulere; obsidebanturque haud paulo ui maiore Velitrae quam Tusculum obsessum fuerat. nec tamen ab eis, a quibus obsideri coeptae erant, expugnari potuere; ante noui creati sunt tribuni militum, Q. Seruilius C. Veturius A. et M. Cornelii Q. Quinctius M. Fabius. nihil ne ab his quidem tribunis ad Velitras memorabile factum. in maiore discrimine domi res uertebantur. nam praeter Sextium Liciniumque latores legum, iam octauum tribunos plebis refectos, Fabius quoque tribunus militum, Stolonis socer, quarum legum auctor fuerat, earum suasorem se haud dubium ferebat; et cum octo ex collegio tribunorum plebi primo intercessores legum fuissent, quinque soli erant, et, ut ferme solent qui a suis desciscunt, capti et stupentes animi uocibus alienis id modo quod domi praeceptum erat intercessioni suae praetendebant: Velitris in exercitu plebis magnam partem abesse; in aduentum militum comitia differri debere, ut uniuersa plebes de suis commodis suffragium ferret. Sextius Liciniusque cum parte collegarum et uno ex tribunis militum Fabio, artifices iam tot annorum usu tractandi animos plebis, primores patrum productos interrogando de singulis, quae ferebantur ad populum, fatigabant: auderentne postulare ut, cum bina iugera agri plebi diuiderentur, ipsis plus quingenta iugera habere liceret ut singuli prope trecentorum ciuium possiderent agros, plebeio homini uix ad tectum necessarium aut locum sepulturae suus pateret ager? an placeret fenore circumuentam plebem, [ni] potius quam sortem [creditum] soluat, corpus in neruum ac supplicia dare et gregatim cottidie de foro addictos duci et repleri uinctis nobiles domus et, ubicumque patricius habitet, ibi carcerem priuatum esse?|