On the death of Tullus, the government1
reverted, in accordance with the custom established in the beginning, to the senators, who named an interrex. This official called together the comitia, and the people elected Ancus Marcius king, a choice which the Fathers ratified. Ancus Marcius was a grandson, on the mother's side, of King Numa Pompilius.
When he began to rule he was mindful of his grandfather's glory, and considered that the last reign, excellent in all else, had failed to prosper in one respect, owing to neglect or misconduct of religious observances. Deeming it therefore a matter of the utmost consequence to perform the state sacrifices as Numa had established them, he bade the pontifex copy out all these from the commentaries of the king and display them in public on a whitened table. This act led the citizens, who were eager for peace, [p. 115]
and also the neighbouring nations, to hope that he2
would adopt the character and institutions of his grandfather.
Hence the Latins, with whom a treaty had been made in the time of Tullus, plucked up courage, and raided Roman territory, and when called on by the Romans to make restitution, returned an arrogant answer, persuaded that the Roman king would spend his reign in inactivity amid shrines and altars. But the character of Ancus was well balanced, and he honoured the memory of Romulus, as well as Numa.
And besides having a conviction that peace had been more necessary to his grandfather's reign, when the nation had been both young and mettlesome, he also believed that the tranquillity, so free of attack, which had fallen to the lot of Numa would be no easy thing for himself to compass; his patience was being tried, and when proved would be regarded with contempt, and in short the times were better suited to the rule of a Tullus than a Numa.
In order however that, as Numa had instituted religious practices in time of peace, he might himself give out a ceremonial of war, and that wars might not only be waged but also declared with some sort of formality, he copied from the ancient tribe of the Aequicoli the law, which the fetials now have,3
by which redress is demanded.
When the envoy has arrived at the frontiers of the people from whom satisfaction is sought, he covers his head with a bonnet —the covering is of wool —and says: “Hear, Jupiter; hear, ye boundaries of” —naming whatever nation they belong to; —“let righteousness hear!
I am the public herald of the Roman People; I come duly and religiously commissioned; let my words be credited,” Then he [p. 117]
recites his demands, after which he takes Jupiter to4
witness: “If I demand unduly and against religion that these men and these things be surrendered to me, then let me never enjoy my native land.”
These words he rehearses when he crosses the boundary line, the same to what man soever first meets him, the same when he enters the city gates, the same when he has come into the market-place, with only a few changes in the form and wording of the oath.
If those whom he demands are not surrendered, at the end of three and thirty days —for such is the conventional number —he declares war thus: “Hear, Jupiter, and thou, Janus Quirinus, and hear all heavenly gods, and ye, gods of earth, and ye of the lower world; I call you to witness that this people” —naming whatever people it is —“is unjust, and does not make just reparation.
But of these matters we will take counsel of the elders in our country, how we may obtain our right.” Then the messenger returns to Rome for the consultation.
Immediately the king would consult the Fathers, in some such words as these: “Touching the things, the suits, the causes, concerning which the pater patratus
of the Roman People of the Quirites has made demands on the pater patratus
of the Ancient Latins, and upon the men of the Ancient Latins, which things they have not delivered, nor fulfilled, nor satisfied, being things which ought to have been delivered, fulfilled, and satisfied, speak,” —turning to the man whose opinion he was wont to ask first, — “what think you?” Then the other would reply: “I hold that those things ought to be sought in warfare just and righteous; and so I consent and vote.”
The others were then asked the question, in their order, and when the majority [p. 119]
of those present went over to the same opinion, war5
had been agreed upon.
It was customary for the fetial to carry to the bounds of the other nation a cornet-wood spear, iron-pointed or hardened in the fire, and in the presence of not less than three grown men to say: “Whereas the tribes of the Ancient Latins and men of the Ancient Latins have been guilty of acts and offences against the Roman People of the Quirites; and whereas the Roman People of the Quirites has commanded that war be made on the Ancient Latins, and the Senate of the Roman People has approved, agreed, and voted a war with the Ancient Latins; I therefore and the Roman People declare and make war on the tribes of the Ancient Latins and the men of the Ancient Latins.”
Having said this, he would hurl his spear into their territory. This is the manner in which at that time redress was sought from the Latins and war was declared, and the custom has been received by later generations.