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Quote of the day: Cneius Pompeius was then for the third t
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 3: War in the winter. Speech of Appius Claudius.[403 BC]
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He [Note 1] was not only a man of ready and versatile mind, but by this time an experienced debater. He delivered the following speech on this occasion: --
"If, Quirites, there has ever been any doubt as to whether it was in your interest or their own that the tribunes have always been the advocates of sedition, I feel quite certain that this year all doubt has ceased to exist. Whilst I rejoice that an end has at last been put to a long-standing delusion, I congratulate you, and on your behalf the whole State, that its removal has been effected just at the time when your circumstances are most prosperous. Is there any one who doubts that whatever wrongs you may have at any time suffered, they never annoyed and provoked the tribunes so much as the generous treatment of the plebs by the senate, in establishing the system of pay for the soldiers? What else do you suppose it was that they were afraid of at that time, and would today gladly upset, except the harmony of the two orders, which they look upon as most of all calculated to destroy their power? They are, really, like so many quack doctors looking for work, always anxious to find some diseased spot in the republic that there may be something which you can call them in to cure." Then, turning to the tribunes, "Are you defending or attacking the plebs? Are you trying to injure the men on service or are you pleading their cause? Or perhaps this is what you are saying, "Whatever the senate does, whether in the interest of the plebs or against them, we object to." Just as masters forbid strangers to hold any communication with their slaves, and think it right that they should abstain from showing them either kindness or unkindness, so you interdict the patricians from all dealings with the plebs, lest we should appeal to their feelings by our graciousness and generosity and secure their loyalty and obedience. How much more dutiful it would have been in you, if you had had a spark -- I will not say of patriotism, but -- of common humanity, to have viewed with favour, and as far as in you lay, to have fostered the kindly feelings of the patricians and the grateful goodwill of the plebeians! And if this harmony should prove to be lasting, who would not be bold enough to guarantee that this empire will in a short time be the greatest among the neighbouring States?"

Note 1: He = Appius Claudius

Event: Siege of Veii, 403 BC. War in winter

Is tum iam non promptus ingenio tantum, sed usu etiam exercitatus, talem orationem habuit: "si unquam dubitatum est, Quirites, utrum tribuni plebis uestra an sua causa seditionum semper auctores fuerint, id ego hoc anno desisse dubitari certum habeo; et cum laetor tandem longi erroris uobis finem factum esse, tum, quod secundis potissimum uestris rebus hic error est sublatus, et uobis et propter uos rei publicae gratulor. An est quisquam qui dubitet nullis iniuriis uestris, si quae forte aliquando fuerunt, unquam aeque quam munere patrum in plebem, cum aera militantibus constituta sunt, tribunos plebis offensos ac concitatos esse? Quid illos aliud aut tum timuisse creditis aut hodie turbare uelle nisi concordiam ordinum, quam dissoluendae maxime tribuniciae potestatis rentur esse? Sic hercule, tamquam artifices improbi, opus quaerunt qui [et] semper aegri aliquid esse in re publica uolunt, ut sit ad cuius curationem a uobis adhibeantur. Vtrum enim defenditis an impugnatis plebem? Vtrum militantium aduersarii estis an causam agitis? Nisi forte hoc dicitis: "quidquid patres faciunt displicet, siue illud pro plebe siue contra plebem est," et quemadmodum seruis suis uetant domini quicquam rei cum alienis hominibus esse pariterque in iis beneficio ac maleficio abstineri aequum censent, sic uos interdicitis patribus commercio plebis, ne nos comitate ac munificentia nostra prouocemus plebem, nec plebs nobis dicto audiens atque oboediens sit. Quanto tandem, si quicquam in uobis, non dico ciuilis, sed humani esset, fauere uos magis et quantum in uobis esset indulgere potius comitati patrum atque obsequio plebis oportuit? Quae si perpetua concordia sit, quis non spondere ausit maximum hoc imperium inter finitimos breui futurum esse?