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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 25: War with the Aequi and Sabines.[458 BC]
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The new consuls, Lucius Minucius and Gaius Nautius, took over the two subjects which remained from the previous year. As before, they obstructed the Law, the tribunes obstructed the trial of Volscius; but the new quaestors possessed greater energy and greater weight. Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, who had been thrice consul, was quaestor with Marcus Valerius, the son of Valerius and grandson of Volesus. As Caeso could not be restored to the House of the Quinctii, nor could the greatest of her soldiers be restored to the State, Quinctius was bound in justice and by loyalty to his family to prosecute the false witness who had deprived an innocent man of the power to plead in his own defence. As Verginius, most of all the tribunes, was agitating for the Law, an interval of two months was granted the consuls for an examination of it, in order that when they had made the people understand what insidious dishonesty it contained, they might allow them to vote upon it. During this interval matters were quiet in the City. |
The Aequi, however, did not allow much respite. In violation of the treaty made with Rome the year before, they made predatory incursions into the territory of Labici and then into that of Tusculum. They had placed Gracchus Cloelius in command, their foremost man at that time. After loading themselves with plunder they fixed their camp on Mount Algidus. Quintus Fabius, Publius Volumnius, and Aulus Postumius were sent from Rome to demand satisfaction, under the terms of the treaty. The general's quarters were located under an enormous oak, and he told the Roman envoys to deliver the instructions they had received from the senate to the oak under whose shadow he was sitting, as he was otherwise engaged. As they withdrew one of the envoys exclaimed, "May this consecrated oak (1) may each offended deity hear that you have broken the treaty! May they look upon our complaint now, and may they presently aid our arms when we seek to redress the outraged rights of gods as well as men!"
On the return of the envoys, the senate ordered one of the consuls to march against Gracchus on Algidus; the other was instructed to ravage the territory of the Aequi. As usual, the tribunes attempted to obstruct the levy and probably would in the end have succeeded, had there not been fresh cause for alarm.
(1): consecrated oak -- the oak was regarded with peculiar reverence as sacred to Jupiter. It was at the foot of the oak on the Capitol that Romulus deposited his spolia opima (Book I. chap. x). The Roman envoy's invocation of this tree has therefore a special significance.
Event: War with Aequi and Sabines