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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 10: Siege and relief of Ardea (cont.)[443-2 BC]
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Up to that time the Volscian commander [Note 1] had not laid in any stock of provisions, as he had been able to maintain his army upon the corn carried off each day from the surrounding country. Now, however, that he was suddenly shut in by the Roman lines, he found himself destitute of everything. He invited the consul [Note 2] to a conference, and said that if the object for which the Romans had come was to raise the siege, he would withdraw the Volscians. The consul replied that it was for the defeated side to submit to terms, not to impose them, and as the Volscians had come at their own pleasure to attack the allies of Rome, they should not depart on the same terms. He required them to lay down their arms, surrender their general, and make acknowledgment of their defeat by placing themselves under his orders; otherwise, whether they remained or departed, he would prove a relentless foe, and would rather carry back to Rome a victory over them than a faithless peace.|
The only hope of the Volscians lay in their arms, and slight as it was they risked it. The ground was unfavourable to them for fighting, still more so for flight. As they were being cut down in all directions, they begged for quarter, but they were only allowed to get away after their general had been surrendered, their arms given up, and they themselves sent under the yoke. Covered with disgrace and disaster, they departed with only one garment apiece. They halted not far from the city of Tusculum, and owing to an old grudge which that city had against them, they were suddenly attacked, and defenceless as they were, suffered severe punishment, few being left to carry the news of the disaster.
The consul settled the troubles in Ardea by beheading the ringleaders of the disturbance and confiscating their property to the treasury of the city. The citizens considered that the injustice of the recent decision was removed by the great service that Rome had rendered, but the senate thought that something ought still to be done to wipe out the record of national avarice.
The consul Quinctius achieved the difficult task of rivalling in his civil administration the military renown of his colleague. He showed such care to maintain peace and concord by tempering justice equally for the highest and the lowest, that whilst the senate looked upon him as a stern consul, the plebeians regarded him as a lenient one. He held his ground against the tribunes more by personal authority than by active opposition. Five consulships marked by the same even tenor of conduct, a whole lifetime passed in a manner worthy of a consul, invested the man himself with almost more reverence than the office he filled. Whilst these two men were consuls there was no talk of military tribunes.
Event: Siege and relief of Ardea