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Quote of the day: A shudder comes over my soul, whenever I
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 15: War with Veii. The Rise of the Alban Lake. Mission to Delphi.[398 BC]
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During this period many portents were announced, but as they rested on the testimony of single individuals, and there were no soothsayers to consult as to how to expiate them, owing to the hostile attitude of the Etruscans, these reports were generally disbelieved and disregarded.
One incident, however, caused universal anxiety. The Alban Lake rose to an unusual height, without any rainfall or other cause which could prevent the phenomenon from appearing supernatural. Envoys were sent to the Oracle of Delphi to ascertain why the gods sent the portent. But an explanation was afforded nearer at hand. An aged Veientine was impelled by destiny to announce, amidst the jeers of the Roman and Etruscan outposts, in prophetic strain, that the Romans would never get possession of Veii until the water had been drawn off from the Alban Lake. This was at first treated as a wild utterance, but afterwards it began to be talked about. Owing to the length of the war, there were frequent conversations between the troops on both sides, and a Roman on outpost duty asked one of the townsmen who was nearest to him who the man was who was throwing out such dark hints about the Alban Lake. When he heard that he was a soothsayer, being himself a man not devoid of religious fears, he invited the prophet to an interview on the pretext of wishing to consult him, if he had time, about a portent which demanded his own personal expiation. When the two had gone some distance from their respective lines, unarmed, apprehending no danger, the Roman, a young man of immense strength, seized the feeble old man in the sight of all, and in spite of the outcry of the Etruscans, carried him off to his own side. He was brought before the commander-in-chief and then sent to the senate in Rome. In reply to inquiries as to what he wanted people to understand by his remark about the Alban Lake, he said that the gods must certainly have been wroth with the people of Veii on the day when they inspired him with the resolve to disclose the ruin which the Fates had prepared for his native city. What he had then predicted under divine inspiration he could not now recall or unsay, and perhaps he would incur as much guilt by keeping silence about things which it was the will of heaven should be revealed as by uttering what ought to be concealed. It stood recorded in the Books of Fate, and had been handed down by the Occult Science of the Etruscans, that whenever the water of the Alban Lake overflowed and the Romans drew it off in the appointed way, the victory over the Veientines would be granted them; until that happened the gods would not desert the walls of Veii. Then he explained the prescribed mode of drawing off the water. The senate, however, did not regard their informant as sufficiently trustworthy in a matter of such importance, and determined to wait for the return of their embassy with the oracular reply of the Pythian god. [Note 1]

Note 1: god = Apollo

Events: Siege of Veii, 398 BC, The Rise of the Alban Lake., Mission to Delphi

Prodigia interim multa nuntiari, quorum pleraque et quia singuli auctores erant parum credita spretaque, et quia, hostibus Etruscis, per quos ea procurarent haruspices non erant: in unum omnium curae uersae sunt quod lacus in Albano nemore, sine ullis caelestibus aquis causaue qua alia quae rem miraculo eximeret, in altitudinem insolitam creuit. Quidnam eo di portenderent prodigio missi sciscitatum oratores ad Delphicum oraculum. Sed propior interpres fatis oblatus senior quidam Veiens, qui inter cauillantes in stationibus ac custodiis milites Romanos Etruscosque uaticinantis in modum cecinit priusquam ex lacu Albano aqua emissa foret nunquam potiturum Veiis Romanum. quod primo uelut temere iactum sperni, agitari deinde sermonibus coeptum est donec unus ex statione Romana percontatus proximum oppidanorum, iam per longinquitatem belli commercio sermonum facto, quisnam is esset qui per ambages de lacu Albano iaceret, postquam audiuit haruspicem esse, uir haud intacti religione animi, causatus de priuati portenti procuratione si operae illi esset consulere uelle, ad conloquium uatem elicuit. cumque progressi ambo a suis longius essent inermes sine ullo metu, praeualens iuuenis Romanus senem infirmum in conspectu omnium raptum nequiquam tumultuantibus Etruscis ad suos transtulit. Qui cum perductus ad imperatorem, inde Romam ad senatum missus esset, sciscitantibus quidnam id esset quod de lacu Albano docuisset, respondit profecto iratos deos Veienti populo illo fuisse die quo sibi eam mentem obiecissent ut excidium patriae fatale proderet. Itaque quae tum cecinerit diuino spiritu instinctus, ea se nec ut indicta sint reuocare posse, et tacendo forsitan quae di immortales uolgari uelint haud minus quam celanda effando nefas contrahi. Sic igitur libris fatalibus, sic disciplina Etrusca traditum esse, [ut] quando aqua Albana abundasset, tum si eam Romanus rite emisisset uictoriam de Veientibus dari; antequam id fiat deos moenia Veientium deserturos non esse. exsequebatur inde quae sollemnis deriuatio esset; sed auctorem leuem nec satis fidum super tanta re patres rati decreuere legatos sortesque oraculi Pythici exspectandas.