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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 21: Revolt and Recovery of Privernum and Fundi. Negotiations.[329 BC]
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|The question was not an easy one to settle, for the senators were governed largely by their temperaments and some advised a harsh, others a gentler course. The general divergence of opinion was widened by one of the Privernate envoys who was thinking more of the state of things in which he had been born than of his present plight. One of the senators who was advocating sterner measures asked him what punishment he thought his countrymen deserved. He replied: The punishment which those deserve who assert their liberty." The consul saw that this spirited reply only exasperated those who were already adverse to the cause of the Privernates, and he tried to get a softer answer by a more considerate question. " Well," he said, "if we spare you now, what sort of a peace may we hope to have with you for the time to come? " "A real and lasting one," was the reply, " if its terms be good, but if they are bad, one that will soon be broken." On hearing this, some of the senators exclaimed that he was using open threats, and that it was by such language that even those states which had been pacified were incited to renew hostilities. The better part of the senate, however, put a more favourable construction on his reply, and declared that it was an utterance worthy of a man and a man who loved liberty. Was it, they asked, to be supposed that any people or, for that matter, any individual would remain longer than he could help under conditions which made him discontented? Peace would only be faithfully kept where those who accepted it did so voluntarily; they could not hope that it would be faithfully kept where they sought to reduce men to servitude. The senate was brought to adopt this view mainly by the consul himself who kept repeating to the consulars -- the men who had to state their opinions first -- in a tone loud enough for many to hear, "Men whose first and last thought is their liberty deserve to become Romans." Thus they gained their cause in the senate, and the proposal to confer full citizenship on the Privernates was submitted to the people.||
Consulars:Men who had been a consul. Consulars were in a position to restrain an acting consul.