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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 25: War with the Aequi and Sabines.[458 BC]
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The new consuls, Lucius Minucius and Gaius Nautius, took over the two subjects which remained from the previous year. As before, they obstructed the Law, the tribunes obstructed the trial of Volscius; but the new quaestors possessed greater energy and greater weight. Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, who had been thrice consul, was quaestor with Marcus Valerius, the son of Valerius and grandson of Volesus. As Caeso could not be restored to the House of the Quinctii, nor could the greatest of her soldiers be restored to the State, Quinctius was bound in justice and by loyalty to his family to prosecute the false witness who had deprived an innocent man of the power to plead in his own defence. As Verginius, most of all the tribunes, was agitating for the Law, an interval of two months was granted the consuls for an examination of it, in order that when they had made the people understand what insidious dishonesty it contained, they might allow them to vote upon it. During this interval matters were quiet in the City. |
The Aequi, however, did not allow much respite. In violation of the treaty made with Rome the year before, they made predatory incursions into the territory of Labici and then into that of Tusculum. They had placed Gracchus Cloelius in command, their foremost man at that time. After loading themselves with plunder they fixed their camp on Mount Algidus. Quintus Fabius, Publius Volumnius, and Aulus Postumius were sent from Rome to demand satisfaction, under the terms of the treaty. The general's quarters were located under an enormous oak, and he told the Roman envoys to deliver the instructions they had received from the senate to the oak under whose shadow he was sitting, as he was otherwise engaged. As they withdrew one of the envoys exclaimed, "May this consecrated oak (1) may each offended deity hear that you have broken the treaty! May they look upon our complaint now, and may they presently aid our arms when we seek to redress the outraged rights of gods as well as men!"
On the return of the envoys, the senate ordered one of the consuls to march against Gracchus on Algidus; the other was instructed to ravage the territory of the Aequi. As usual, the tribunes attempted to obstruct the levy and probably would in the end have succeeded, had there not been fresh cause for alarm.
(1): consecrated oak -- the oak was regarded with peculiar reverence as sacred to Jupiter. It was at the foot of the oak on the Capitol that Romulus deposited his spolia opima (Book I. chap. x). The Roman envoy's invocation of this tree has therefore a special significance.
Event: War with Aequi and Sabines
|L. Minucius inde et C. Nautius consules facti duas residuas anni prioris causas exceperunt. Eodem modo consules legem, tribuni iudicium de Volscio impediebant; sed in quaestoribus nouis maior uis, maior auctoritas erat. Cum M. Valerio Mani filio Volesi nepote quaestor erat T. Quinctius Capitolinus qui ter consul fuerat. Is, quoniam neque Quinctiae familiae Caeso neque rei publicae maximus iuuenum restitui posset, falsum testem qui dicendae causae innoxio potestatem ademisset, iusto ac pio bello persequebatur. Cum Verginius maxime ex tribunis de lege ageret, duum mensum spatium consulibus datum est ad inspiciendam legem ut cum edocuissent populum quid fraudis occultae ferretur, sinerent deinde suffragium inire. Hoc interualli datum res tranquillas in urbe fecit. Nec diuturnam quietem Aequi dederunt, qui rupto foedere quod ictum erat priore anno cum Romanis, imperium ad Gracchum Cloelium deferunt; is tum longe princeps in Aequis erat. Graccho duce in Labicanum agrum, inde in Tusculanum hostili populatione ueniunt, plenique praedae in Algido castra locant. In ea castra Q. Fabius, P. Volumnius, A. Postumius legati ab Roma uenerunt questum iniurias et ex eo foedere res repetitum. Eos Aequorum imperator, quae mandata habeant ab senatu Romano, ad quercum iubet dicere; se alia interim acturum. Quercus ingens arbor praetorio imminebat, cuius umbra opaca sedes erat. Tum ex legatis unus abiens 'et haec' inquit, 'sacrata quercus et quidquid deorum est audiant foedus a uobis ruptum, nostrisque et nunc querellis adsint et mox armis, cum deorum hominumque simul uiolata iura exsequemur.' Romam ut rediere legati, senatus iussit alterum consulem contra Gracchum in Algidum exercitum ducere, alteri populationem finium Aequorum prouinciam dedit. Tribuni suo more impedire dilectum, et forsitan ad ultimum impedissent; sed nouus subito additus terror est.|