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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 21: Wars with the Volscians and Latins.[383 BC]
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The pestilence was followed by scarcity, and the widespread rumour of these two troubles was followed the next year by a number of wars. The consular tribunes were: Lucius Valerius (for the fourth time), Aulus Manlius, Servius Sulpicius, Lucius Lucretius, and Lucius Aemilius (all for the third time), and Marcus Trebonius. |
In addition to the Volscians, who seemed destined by some fate to keep the Roman soldiery in perpetual training; in addition to the colonies of Circeii and Velitrae, who had long been meditating revolt; in addition to Latium, which was an object of suspicion, a new enemy suddenly appeared at Lanuvium, which had hitherto been a most loyal city. The senate thought this was due to a feeling of contempt because the revolt of their countrymen at Velitrae had remained so long unpunished. They accordingly passed a decree that the people should be asked as soon as possible to consent to a declaration of war against them. To make the plebs more ready to enter on this campaign, five commissioners were appointed to distribute the Pomptine territory and three to settle a colony at Nepete. Then the proposal was submitted to the people, and in spite of the protests of the tribunes the tribes unanimously declared for war.
Preparations for war continued throughout the year, but, owing to the pestilence, the army was not led out. This delay allowed the colonists time for propitiating the senate, and there was a considerable party amongst them in favour of sending a deputation to Rome to ask for pardon. But, as usual, the interest of the State was bound up with the interests of individuals, and the authors of the revolt, fearing that they alone would be held responsible and surrendered, in consequence, to appease the resentment of the Romans, turned the colonists from all thoughts of peace. Nor did they confine themselves to persuading their senate to veto the proposed embassy; they stirred up a large number of the plebs to make a predatory incursion on Roman territory. This fresh outrage destroyed all hopes of peace.
This year, for the first time, there arose a rumour of a revolt at Praeneste, but when the people of Tusculum, Gabinii, and Labici, whose territories had been invaded, laid a formal complaint, the senate took it so calmly that it was evident they did believe the charge because they did not wish it to be true.