Livy, ab Urbe Condita (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Liv.].
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ch. 208.20

Whilst Privernum was invested by two consular armies, one of the consuls was recalled home to conduct the elections. It was in this year that the carceres [Note] were erected in the Circus Maximus

The trouble of the war with Privernum was not yet over when a most alarming report of a sudden movement amongst the Gauls reached the senate. Such reports were not often treated lightly. The new consuls, L. Aemilius Mamercinus and C. Plautius, were immediately ordered to arrange their respective commands on the very day they assumed office, namely July 1. The Gaulish war fell to Mamercinus, and he allowed none of those who were called up for service to claim exemption. It is even asserted that the mob of mechanics and artizans, a class utterly unfit for warfare, were called out. An immense army was concentrated at Veii to check the advance of the Gauls. It was thought better not to march any further in case the enemy took some other route to the City. After a thorough recon- naissance had been made, it was ascertained after a few days that all was quiet as far as the Gauls were concerned, and the whole force was thereupon marched to Privernum.

From this point there is a twofold story. Some state that the city was stormed and Vitrubius taken alive; other authorities aver that before the final assault the townsmen came out with a caduceus [Note] and surrendered to the consul, whilst Vitrubius was given up by his own men. The senate, when consulted as to the fate of Vitrubius and the Privernates, instructed the consul to demolish the walls of Privernum and station a strong garrison there, and then to celebrate his triumph. Vitrubius was to be kept in prison until the consul returned and then to be scourged and beheaded; his house on the Palatine was to be razed and his goods devoted to Semo Sancus. The money realised by their sale was melted down into brazen orbs which were deposited in the chapel of Sancus opposite the temple of Quirinus. With regard to the senate of Privernum, it was decreed that every senator who had remained in that city after its revolt from Rome should be deported beyond the Tiber on the same conditions as those of Velitrae. After his triumph, when Vitrubius and his accomplices had been put to death, the consul thought that as the senate was satisfied with the punishment of the guilty, he might safely refer to the matter of the Privernates. He addressed the House in the following terms:

Since the authors of the revolt, senators, have been visited by the immortal gods and by you with the punishment they deserved, what is your pleasure with regard to the innocent population? Although it is my duty to ask for opinions rather than to give them, I should like to say that in view of the fact that the Privernates are neighbours of the Samnites, with whom peaceful relations are now upon a most uncertain footing, I am anxious that as few grounds of complaint as possible should exist between us and them.

The question was not an easy one to settle, for the senators were governed largely by their temperaments and some advised a harsh, others a gentler course. The general divergence of opinion was widened by one of the Privernate envoys who was thinking more of the state of things in which he had been born than of his present plight. One of the senators who was advocat- ing sterner measures asked him what punishment he thought his countrymen deserved. He replied: The punishment which those deserve who assert their liberty. The consul saw that this spirited reply only exasperated those who were already adverse to the cause of the Privernates, and he tried to get a softer answer by a more considerate question. Well, he said, if we spare you now, what sort of a peace may we hope to have with you for the time to come? A real and lasting one, was the reply, if its terms be good, but if they are bad, one that will soon be broken. On hearing this, some of the senators exclaimed that he was using open threats, and that it was by such language that even those states which had been pacified were incited to renew hostilities. The better part of the senate, however, put a more favourable construction on his reply, and declared that it was an utterance worthy of a man and a man who loved liberty. Was it, they asked, to be supposed that any people or, for that matter, any individual would remain longer than he could help under conditions which made him discontented? Peace would only be faithfully kept where those who accepted it did so voluntarily; they could not hope that it would be faithfully kept where they sought to reduce men to servitude. The senate was brought to adopt this view mainly by the consul himself who kept repeating to the consulars—the men who had to state their opinions first—in a tone loud enough for many to hear, Men whose first and last thought is their liberty deserve to become Romans. Thus they gained their cause in the senate, and the proposal to confer full citizenship on the Privernates was submitted to the people.



Livy, ab Urbe Condita (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Liv.].
<<Liv. 8.19 Liv. 8.20 (Latin) >>Liv. 8.22

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