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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 23: Problems with offerings.[396 BC]
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Although the portents had been averted by due expiation and the answers given by the soothsayer and the oracle were matters of common knowledge, and all that man could do had been done by the selection of Marcus Furius, the greatest of all commanders -- notwithstanding all this, when the capture of Veii was announced in Rome, after so many years of undecided warfare and numerous defeats, the rejoicing was as great as if there had been no hope of success. Anticipating the order of the senate, all the temples were filled with Roman mothers offering offering to the gods. The senate ordered that the public thanksgivings should be continued for four days, a longer period than for any previous war. The arrival of the dictator, too, whom all classes poured out to meet, was welcomed by a greater concourse than that of any general before. His triumph went far beyond the usual mode of celebrating the day; himself the most conspicuous object of all, he was drawn into the City by a team of white horses, which men thought unbecoming even for a mortal man, let alone a Roman citizen. They saw with superstitious alarm the dictator putting himself on a level in his equipage with Jupiter and Sol, and this one circumstance made his triumph more brilliant than popular. After this he signed a contract for building the temple of queen Juno on the Aventine and dedicated one to Matuta the Mother. After having thus discharged his duties to gods and men he resigned his dictatorship. |
Subsequently a difficulty arose about the offering to Apollo. Camillus stated that he had vowed a tenth of the spoils to the deity, and the college of pontiffs decided that the people must fulfil their religious obligation (1). But it was not easy to find a way of ordering the people to restore their share of booty so that the due proportion might be set apart for sacred purposes. At length recourse was had to what seemed the smoothest plan, namely, that any one who wished to discharge the obligation for himself and his household should make a valuation of his share and contribute the value of a tenth of it to the public treasury, in order that out of the proceeds a golden crown might be made, worthy of the grandeur of the temple and the august divinity of the god, and such as the honour of the Roman people demanded. This contribution still further estranged the feelings of the plebeians from Camillus.
During these occurrences envoys from the Volscians and Aequi came to sue for peace. They succeeded in obtaining it, not so much because they deserved it as that the common-wealth, wearied with such a long war, might enjoy repose.
(1): Camillus had made his vow in the name of the State, as dictator, and so the whole people were bound to take their share in redeeming it.
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Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.
Pontiff / Pontifex:Member of the college of State priests