[Note] The death of Numa was followed
by a second interregnum. Then Tullus Hostilius, a grandson of the Hostilius who had
fought so brilliantly at the foot of the Citadel against the Sabines, was chosen king by the
people, and their choice was confirmed by the Senate. He was not only unlike the last king,
but he was a man of more warlike spirit even than Romulus, and his ambition was kindled
by his own youthful energy and by the glorious achievements of his grandfather.
Convinced that the vigour of the State was becoming enfeebled through inaction, he looked
all round for a pretext for getting up a war.
It so happened that Roman peasants were at that time in the habit of carrying off
plunder from the Alban territory, and the Albans from Roman territory. Gaius Cluilius was
at the time
ruling in Alba. Both parties sent envoys almost simultaneously to seek redress.
Tullus had told his ambassadors to lose no time in carrying out their instructions; he was
fully aware that the Albans would refuse satisfaction, and so a just ground would exist for
proclaiming war. The Alban envoys proceeded in a more leisurely fashion. Tullus received
them with all courtesy and entertained them sumptuously. Meantime the Romans had
preferred their demands, and on the Alban governor's refusal had declared that war would
begin in thirty days. When this was reported to Tullus, he granted the Albans an audience
in which they were to state the object of their coming. Ignorant of all that had happened,
they wasted time in explaining that it was with great reluctance that they would say anything which might displease Tullus, but they were bound by their instructions; they were
come to demand redress, and if that were refused they were ordered to declare war. Tell
your king, replied Tullus, that the king of Rome calls the gods to witness that whichever
nation is the first to dismiss with ignominy the envoys who came to seek redress, upon that
nation they will visit all the sufferings of this war.