2.81 But as our revenues derived from the territory of Campania are of such a nature that they are always at home, and that they are protected by the bulwark of all our Italian towns, so they are neither hostile to us in time of war, nor variable in their productiveness, nor unfortunate from any accidents of climate or soil.
Our ancestors were so far from diminishing what they had taken from the Campanians, that they even bought additional lands to be added to it, from those from whom they could not reasonably take it without purchase. For which reason, neither the two Gracchi, who thought a great deal of what was advantageous for the Roman people, nor Lucius Sulla, who gave away everything without the slightest scruple to any one he pleased, ever ventured to touch the Campanian territory. Rullus was the first man to venture to remove the republic from that property, of which neither the liberality of the Gracchi nor the uncontrolled power of Sulla had deprived it.
That land which now, as you pass by it, you say is yours, and which foreigners whose road lies through it hear is yours, when it is divided will neither be nor be said to be yours.
2.82 And who are the men who will possess it? In the first place they are active men, prepared for deeds of violence, willing for sedition, who, the very moment the decemvirs clap their hands, may be armed against the citizens and ready for slaughter. In the next place, you will see the whole district of Campania distributed among a few men already rich in wealth and power. Meanwhile you, who have received from your ancestors those most beautiful homes, if I may so say, of your revenues, which they won by their arms, will not have left to you one single clod of earth of all your paternal hereditary possessions. And there will be this difference between your diligence and that or private individuals, that when Publius Lentulus, while he was chief of the senate, had been sent into those parts by our ancestors, in order to purchase at the public expense those lands, being private property, which projected into the public domain in Campania, he is said to have reported that he had not been able to purchase a certain man's estate for money; and that he who had refused to sell it, had given this reason why he could not possibly be induced to sell it, that, though he had many farms, this was the only farm from which he never had had any bad news.
2.83 Is it so? Did this reason weigh with a private individual and shall it not weigh with the Roman people to prevent their giving up the district of Campania to private individuals for nothing, at the request of Rullus? And the Roman people may say the very same thing about this revenue, that he is said to have said about his farm. Asia for many years during the Mithridatic war produced you no revenue. There was no revenue from the Spains in the time of Sertorius. Manius Aquilius even lent corn to the Sicilian cities at the time of the Servile war. But from this tributary land no bad news was ever heard. Other of our revenues are at times weighed down by the distresses of war; but the sinews of war are even supplied to us by this tributary land.
2.84 Besides, in this allotment of lands which is to take place, even that, which is said in other cases, cannot be said here, namely, that lands ought not to be left deserted by the people, and without the cultivation of free men.
For this is what I say,—if the Campanian land be divided, the common people is driven out of and banished from the lands, not settled and established in them. For the whole of the Campanian district is cultivated and occupied by the common people, and by a most virtuous and moderate common people. And that race of men of most virtuous habits, that race of excellent farmers and excellent soldiers, is wholly driven out by this tribune who is so devoted to the people. And these miserable men, born and brought up on those lands, practised in tilling the ground, will have no place to which, when so suddenly driven out, they can betake themselves. The entire possession of the Campanian district will be given over to these robust, vigorous, and audacious satellites of the decemvirs. And, as you now say of your ancestors, “Our ancestors left us these lands,” so your posterity will say of you, “Our ancestors received these lands from their ancestors, but lost them.”
2.85 I think, indeed, that if the Campus Martius were to be divided, and if every one of you had two feet of standing ground allotted to him in it, still you would prefer to enjoy the whole of it together, than for each individual to have a small portion for his own private property. Wherefore, even if some portion of these lands were to come to every individual among you.—which is now indeed held out to you as a lure, but is in reality destined for others,—still they would be a more honourable possession to you when possessed by the whole body, than if distributed in bits to each citizen. But now when you are not to have any share in them, but when they are being prepared for others and taken from you, will you not most vigorously resist this law as you would an armed enemy, fighting in defence of your lands. He adds the Stellate plain to the Campanian district, and in the two together he allots twelve acres to each settler. As if the difference was slight between the Stellate and Campanian districts!