|Religion||Subjects||Images||Queries||Links||Contact||Do not fly Iberia|
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 30:The Appeal of the Campanians.[343 BC]
Return to index
On being admitted to an audience, their envoys addressed the senate to the following effect: senators! the people of Capua have sent us as ambassadors to you to ask for a friendship which shall be perpetual, and for help for the present hour. Had we sought this friendship in the day of our prosperity it might have been cemented more readily, but at the same time by a weaker bond. For in that case, remembering that we had formed our friendship on equal terms, we should perhaps have been as close friends as now, but we should have been less prepared to accept your mandates, less at your mercy. Whereas now, won over by your compassion and defended in our extremity by your aid, we should be bound to cherish the kindness bestowed on us if we are not to appear ungrateful and undeserving of any help from either gods or man. I certainly do not consider that the fact of the Samnites having already become your friends and allies should be a bar to our being admitted into your friendship; it only shows that they take precedence of us in the priority and degree of the honour which you have conferred upon them. There is nothing in your treaty with them to prevent you from making fresh treaties. It has always been held amongst you to be a satisfactory reason for friendship, when he who made advances to you was anxious to be your friend. Although our present circumstances forbid us to speak proudly about ourselves, still we Campanians are second to no people, save yourselves, in the size of our city and the fertility of our soil, and we shall bring, I consider, no small accession to your prosperity by entering into your friendship. Whenever the Aequi and Volscians, the perpetual enemies of this City, make any hostile movement we shall be on their rear, and what you lead the way in doing on behalf of our safety, that we shall always continue to do on behalf of your dominion and your glory. When these nations which lie between us are subjugated -- and your courage and fortune are a guarantee that this will soon come about -- you will have an unbroken dominion up to our frontier. Painful and humiliating is the confession which our fortunes compel us to make; but it has come to this, senators, we Campanians must be numbered either amongst your friends or your enemies. If you defend us we are yours, if you abandon us we shall belong to the Samnites. Make up your minds, then, whether you would prefer that Capua and the whole of Campania should form an addition to your strength or should augment the power of the Samnites It is only right, Romans, that your sympathy and help should be extended to all, but especially should it be so to those who, when others appealed to them, tried to help them beyond their strength and so have brought themselves into these dire straits. Although it was ostensibly on behalf of the Sidicines that we fought, we really fought for our own liberty, for we saw our neighbours falling victims to the nefarious brigandage of the Samnites, and we knew that when the Sidicines had been consumed the fire would sweep on to us. The Samnites are not coming to attack us because we have in any way wronged them, but because they have gladly seized upon a pretext for war. Why, if they only sought retribution and were not catching at an opportunity for satisfying their greed, ought it not to be enough for them that our legions have fallen on Sidicine territory and a second time in Campania itself? Where do we find resentment so bitter that the blood shed in two battles cannot satiate it? Then think of the destruction wrought in our fields, the men and cattle carried off, the burning and ruining of our farms, everything devastated with fire and sword -- cannot all this appease their rage? No, they must satisfy their greed. It is this that is hurrying them on to the storm of Capua; they are bent on either destroying that fairest of cities or making it their own. But you, Romans, should make it your own by kindness, rather than allow them to possess it as the reward of iniquity." |
"I am not speaking in the presence of a nation that refuses to go to war when war is righteous, but even so, I believe if you make it clear that you will help us you will not find it necessary to go to war. The contempt which the Samnites feel for their neighbours extends to us, it does not mount any higher; the shadow of your help therefore is enough to protect us, and we shall regard whatever we have, whatever we are, as wholly yours. For you the Campanian soil shall be tilled, for you the city of Capua shall be thronged; you we shall regard as our founders, our parents, yes, even as gods; there is not a single one amongst your colonies that will surpass us in devotion and loyalty towards you. Be gracious, senators, to our prayers and manifest your divine will and power on behalf of the Campanians, and bid them entertain a certain hope that Capua will be safe. With what a vast crowd made up of every class, think you, did we start from the gates? How full of tears and prayers did we leave all behind. In what a state of expectancy are the senate and people of Capua, our wives and children, now living! I am quite certain that the whole population is standing at the gates, watching the road which leads from here, in anxious suspense as to what reply you are ordering us to carry back to them. The one answer will bring them safety, victory, light, and liberty; the other -- I dare not say what that might bring. Deliberate then upon our fate, as that of men who are either going to be your friends and allies, or to have no existence anywhere."
Event: First war with Samnites