When the business of recruiting the legions in the provinces was under consideration, it was suggested by certain senators that now was the time, when, by the favour of the gods, their fears were removed, to put a stop to certain [p. 1251]
things, however they might have been tolerated in perilous circumstances.
The senators, being intent in expectation, subjoined, that the twelve Latin colonies which had refused to furnish soldiers to the consuls, Quintus Fabius and Quintus Fulvius, were enjoying, for now the sixth year, exemption from military service, as though it had been granted to them as a mark of honour and favour;
while in the mean time their good and dutiful allies, in return for their fidelity and obedience to the Roman people, had been exhausted by continual levies every year. By these words the recollection of the senate was renewed touching a matter which was now almost obliterated, and their indignation equally excited.
Accordingly, without allowing the consuls to lay any other business before the senate in priority, they decreed, “that the consuls should summon to Rome the magistrates, and ten principal inhabitants, from each of the colonies, Nepete, Sutrium, Ardea, Cales, Alba, Carseoli, Sora, Suessa, Setia, Circeii, Narnia, and Interamna;
for these were the colonies implicated in this affair; and command them that each of those colonies should furnish double the greatest number of foot soldiers which they had ever provided for the Roman people since the enemy had been in Italy, and one hundred and twenty horsemen each.
If any of them was unable to make up that number of horsemen, that it should be allowed to furnish three foot soldiers for every horseman deficient.
That both the foot and horse soldiers should be chosen from the wealthiest of the inhabitants, and should be sent out of Italy wheresoever there was want of recruits. If any of them refused to comply, it was their pleasure that the magistrates and ambassadors of such should be detained;
and that, if they requested it, they should not be allowed an audience of the senate till they had obeyed these orders.
Moreover, that an annual tax should be imposed upon them, and collected after the rate of one as
for every thousand; and that a census should be taken in those colonies, according to a formula appointed by the Roman censors, which should be the same which was employed in the case of the Roman people;
and that a return should be made at Rome by sworn censors of the colonies, before they retired from their office.”
The magistrates and principal men of these colonies having been summoned to Rome, when the consuls imposed upon them the [p. 1252]
contribution of men, and the management of the tax, they vied with each other in making excuses, and remonstrating against it. They said “it was impossible that so large a number of men could be raised.
That they could scarcely accomplish it, if even the simple contribution only, according to the established ratio, were required of them.
They entreated and besought them that they might be allowed to appear before the senate and deprecate their resolution. They had committed no crime for which they deserved to be ruined; but, even if they were to be ruined, neither their own crime nor the resentment of the Roman people could make them furnish a greater number of soldiers than they had got.”
The consuls, persisting, ordered the ambassadors to remain at Rome, and the magistrates to go home to make the levies; observing, that “unless the amount of soldiers enjoined were brought to Rome, no one would give them an audience of the senate.”
All hope of appearing before the senate, and deprecating their decision, being then cut off, the levies were completed in the twelve colonies without difficulty, as the number of their youth had increased during their long exemption from service.