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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 20: Submission of Caere.[353 BC]
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It would seem as though this formal declaration of war brought home to the Caerites the horrors of a war with Rome more clearly than the action of those who had provoked the Romans by their depredations. They realised how unequal their strength was to such a conflict; they bitterly regretted the raid, and cursed the Tarquinians who had instigated them to revolt. No one made any preparation for war, but each did his utmost to urge the despatch of an embassy to Rome to beg pardon for their offence. When the deputation came before the senate they were referred by the senate to the people. They besought the gods whose sacred things they had taken charge of and made due provision for in the Gaulish war (Note 1) that the Romans in their day of prosperity might feel the same pity for them that they had shown for Rome in her hour of distress. Then turning to the temple of Vesta they invoked the bond of hospitality which they formed in all purity and reverence with the Flamens and the Vestals. "Could any one believe," they asked, "that men who had rendered such services would all of a sudden, without any reason, have become enemies, or if they had been guilty of any hostile act that they had committed it deliberately rather than in a fit of madness? Was it possible that they could, by inflicting fresh injuries, obliterate their old acts of kindness, especially when they had been conferred on those who were so grateful for them; or that they would make an enemy of the Roman people now that it was prosperous and successful in all its wars after having sought its friendship at a time when it was in trouble and adversity? That should not be described as deliberate purpose which ought to be called violence and constraint. After simply asking for a free passage, the Tarquinians traversed their territory in hostile array and compelled some of their country-folk to accompany them in that predatory expedition for which the city of Caere was now held responsible. If it was decided that these men must be surrendered, they would surrender them, if they must be punished, punished they should be. Caere, once the sanctuary of Rome, the shelter of her sacred things, ought to be declared innocent of any thought of war, and acquitted of any charge of hostile intentions in return for her hospitality to the Vestals and her devotion to the gods." |
Old memories rather than the actual circumstances of the case so wrought upon the people that they thought less of the present grievance than of the former kindness. Peace was accordingly granted to the people of Caere, and it was agreed to leave to the senate the question of a truce for 100 years.
The Faliscans were implicated in the same charge and the war was diverted to them, but the enemy was nowhere to how found in the open. Their territory was ravaged from end to end, but no attempt was made against their cities.