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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 28: The treachery of Mettius Fufetius. (Cont.)
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Then the Alban army, who had been watching the fight, marched down into the plain. Mettius congratulated Tullus on his victory, Tullus replied in a friendly tone, and as a mark of goodwill, ordered the Alban to form their camp contiguous to that of the Romans, and made preparations for a lustral sacrifice on the morrow. As soon as it was light, and all the preparations were made, he gave the customary order for both armies to muster on parade. The heralds began at the furthest part of the camp, where the Albans were, and summoned them first of all; they, attracted by the novelty of hearing the Roman addressing his troops, took up their position close round him. Secret instructions had been given for the Roman legion to stand fully armed behind them, and the centurions were in readiness to execute instantly the orders they received. |
Tullus commenced as follows: "Romans! if in any war that you have ever waged there has been reason for you to thank, first, the immortal gods and then your own personal courage, such was certainly the case in yesterday's battle. For whilst you had to contend with an open enemy, you had a still more serious and dangerous conflict to maintain against the treachery and perfidy of your allies. For I must undeceive you - it was by no command of mine that the Albans withdrew to the mountains. What you heard was not a real order but a pretended one, which I used as an artifice to prevent your knowing that you were deserted, and so losing heart for the battle, and also to fill the enemy with alarm and a desire to flee by making them think that they were being surrounded. The guilt which I am denouncing does not involve all the Albans; they only followed their general, just as you would have done had I wanted to lead my army away from the field. It is Mettius who is the leader of this march, Mettius who engineered this war, Mettius who broke the treaty between Rome and Alba. Others may venture on similar practices, if I do not make this man a signal lesson to all the world." The armed centurions closed round Mettius, and the king proceeded: "I shall take a course which will bring good fortune and happiness to the Roman people and myself, and to you, Albans; it is my intention to transfer the entire Alban population to Rome, to give the rights of citizenship to the plebeians, and enrol the nobles in the senate, and to make one City, one State. As formerly the Alban State was broken up into two nations, so now let it once more become one," The Alban soldiery listened to these words with conflicting feelings, but unarmed as they were and hemmed in by armed men, a common fear kept them silent. Then Tullus said: Mettius Fufetius! if you could have learnt to keep your word and respect treaties, I would have given you that instruction in your lifetime, but now, since your character is past cure, do at least teach mankind by your punishment to hold those things as sacred which have been outraged by you. As yesterday your interest was divided between the Fidenates and the Romans, so now you shall give up your body to be divided and dismembered." Thereupon two four-horse chariots were brought up, and Mettius was bound at full length to each, the horses were driven in opposite directions, carrying off parts of the body in each chariot, where the limbs had been secured by the cords. All present averted their eyes from the horrible spectacle. This is the first and last instance amongst the Romans of a punishment so regardless of humanity. Amongst other things which are the glory of Rome is this, that no nation has ever been contented with milder punishments.