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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 3: A Conspiracy to Restore the Tarquins.[509 BC]
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Though no one doubted that war with the Tarquins was imminent, it did not come as soon as was universally expected. What was not expected, however, was that through intrigue and treachery the new-won liberty was almost lost. |
There were some young men of high birth in Rome who during the late reign had done pretty much what they pleased, and being born companions of the young Tarquins were accustomed to live in royal fashion. Now that all were equal before the law, they missed their former licence and complained that the liberty which others enjoyed had become slavery for them; as long as there was a king, there was a person from whom they could get what they wanted, whether lawful or not, there was room for personal influence and kindness, he could show severity or indulgence, could discriminate between his friends and his enemies. But the law was a thing, deaf and inexorable, more favourable to the weak than to the powerful, showing no indulgence or forgiveness to those who transgressed; human nature being what it was, it was a dangerous plan to trust solely to one's innocence. When they had worked themselves into a state of disaffection, envoys from the royal family arrived, bringing a demand for the restoration of their property without any allusion to their possible return. An audience was granted them by the senate, and the matter was discussed for some days; fears were expressed that the non - surrender would be taken as a pretext for war, while if surrendered it might provide the means of war. The envoys, meantime, were engaged on another task: whilst ostensibly seeking only the surrender of the property they were secretly hatching schemes for regaining the crown. Whilst canvassing the young nobility in favour of their apparent object, they sounded them as to their other proposals, and meeting with a favourable reception, they brought letters addressed to them by the Tarquins and discussed plans for admitting them secretly at night into the City.
Event: Conspiracy of the Tarquins.
|Cum haud cuiquam in dubio esset bellum ab Tarquiniis imminere, id quidem spe omnium serius fuit; ceterum, id quod non timebant, per dolum ac proditionem prope libertas amissa est. Erant in Romana iuuentute adulescentes aliquot, nec ii tenui loco orti, quorum in regno libido solutior fuerat, aequales sodalesque adulescentium Tarquiniorum, adsueti more regio uiuere. Eam tum, aequato iure omnium, licentiam quaerentes, libertatem aliorum in suam uertisse seruitutem inter se conquerebantur: regem hominem esse, a quo impetres, ubi ius, ubi iniuria opus sit; esse gratiae locum, esse beneficio; et irasci et ignoscere posse; inter amicum atque inimicum discrimen nosse; leges rem surdam, inexorabilem esse, salubriorem melioremque inopi quam potenti; nihil laxamenti nec ueniae habere, si modum excesseris; periculosum esse in tot humanis erroribus sola innocentia uiuere. Ita iam sua sponte aegris animis legati ab regibus superueniunt, sine mentione reditus bona tantum repetentes. Eorum uerba postquam in senatu audita sunt, per aliquot dies ea consultatio tenuit, ne non reddita belli causa, reddita belli materia et adiumentum essent. Interim legati alia moliri; aperte bona repetentes clam reciperandi regni consilia struere; et tamquam ad id quod agi uidebatur ambientes, nobilium adulescentium animos pertemptant. A quibus placide oratio accepta est, iis litteras ab Tarquiniis reddunt et de accipiendis clam nocte in urbem regibus conloquuntur.|