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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 24: Internal Dissensions arising from the Conquest of Veii.[395 BC]
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The year following the capture of Veii had for the six consular tribunes two of the Publii Cornelii, namely, Cossus and Scipio, Marcus Valerius Maximus -- for the second time -- Caeso Fabius Ambustus -- for the third time -- Lucius Furius Medullinus -- for the fifth time -- and Quintus Servilius -- for the third time. The war against the Faliscans was allotted to the Cornelii, that against Capenae to Valerius and Servilius. They did not make any attempt to take cities either by assault or investment, but confined themselves to ravaging the country and carrying off the property of the agriculturists; not a single fruit tree no produce whatever, was left on the land. These losses broke the resistance of the Capenates, they sued for peace and it was granted them. Amongst the Faliscans the war went on. In Rome, meanwhile, disturbances arose on various matters. In order to quiet them it had been decided to plant a colony on the Volscian frontier and the names of 3000 Roman citizens were entered for it. Triumvirs appointed for the purpose had divided the land into lots of 3 7/12 jugera per man. This grant began to be looked upon with contempt, they regarded it as a sop offered to them to divert them from hoping for something better. "Why," they asked, "were plebeians to be sent into banishment amongst the Volscians when the splendid city of Veii and the territory of the Veientines was within view, more fertile and more ample than the territory of Rome?" Whether in respect of its situation or of the magnificence of its public and private buildings and its open spaces, they gave that city the preference over Rome. They even brought forward a proposal, which met with still more support after the capture of Rome by the Gauls, for migrating to Veii. They intended, however, that Veii should be inhabited by a portion of the plebs and a part of the senate; they thought it a feasible project that two separate cities should be inhabited by the Roman people and form one State. |
In opposition to these proposals, the nobility went so far as to declare that they would sooner die before the eyes of the Roman people than that any of those schemes should be put to the vote. If, they argued, there was so much dissension in one city, what would there be in two? Could any one possibly prefer a conquered to a conquering city, and allow Veii to enjoy a greater good fortune after its capture than while it stood safe? It was possible that in the end they might be left behind in their native City by their fellow-citizens, but no power on earth would compel them to abandon their native City and their fellow-citizens in order to follow Titus Sicinius -- the proposer of this measure -- to Veii as its new founder, and so abandon Romulus, a god and the son of a god, the father and creator of the City of Rome.