It was the custom of the Faliscans to employ the same person as the master and also as the attendant of their children, and several boys used to be entrusted to one man's care; a custom which prevails in Greece at the present time.
Naturally, the man who had the highest reputation for learning was appointed to instruct the children of the principal men. This man had started the practice, in the time of peace, of taking the boys outside the gates for games and exercise, and he kept up the practice after the war had begun, taking them sometimes a shorter, sometimes a longer distance from the city gate. Seizing a favourable opportunity, he kept up the games and the conversations longer than usual, and went on till he was in the midst of the Roman outposts.
He then took them into the camp and up to Camillus in the headquarters tent.
There he aggravated his villainous act by a still more villainous utterance. He had, he said, given Falerii into the hands of the Romans, since those boys, whose fathers were at the head of affairs in the city, were now placed in their power.
On hearing this Camillus replied, ‘You, villain, have not come with your villainous offer to a nation or a commander like yourself.
Between us and the Faliscans there is no fellowship based on a formal compact as between man and man, but the fellowship which is based on natural instincts exists between us, and will continue to do so. There are rights of war as there are rights of peace, and we have learnt to wage our wars with justice no less than with courage.
We do not use our weapons against those of an age which is spared even in the capture of cities, but against those who are armed as we are, and who without any injury or provocation from us attacked the Roman camp at Veii.
These men you, as far as you could, have vanquished by an unprecedented act of villainy; I shall vanquish them as I vanquished Veii, by Roman arts, by courage and strategy and force of arms.’
He then ordered him to be stripped and his hands tied behind his back, and delivered him up to the boys to be taken back to Falerii, and gave them rods with which to scourge the traitor into the city.
The people came in crowds to see the sight, the magistrates thereupon convened the senate to discuss the extraordinary incident, and in the end such a revulsion of feeling took place that the very people who in the madness of their rage and hatred would almost sooner have shared the fate of Veii than obtained the peace which Capena enjoyed, now found themselves in company with the whole city asking for peace.
The Roman sense of honour, the commander's love of justice, were in all men's mouths in the forum and in the senate, and in accordance with the universal wish, ambassadors were despatched to Camillus in the camp, and with his sanction to the senate in Rome, to make the surrender of Falerii.
On being introduced to the senate, they are reported to have made the following speech: ‘Senators!
vanquished by you and your general through a victory which none, whether god or man, can censure, we surrender ourselves to you, for we think it better to live under your sway than under our own laws, and this is the greatest glory that a conqueror can attain.
Through the issue of this war two salutary precedents have been set for mankind. You have preferred the honour of a soldier to a victory which was in your hands; we, challenged by your good faith, have voluntarily given you that victory.
We are at your disposal; send men to receive our arms, to receive the hostages, to receive the city whose gates stand open to you.
Never shall you have cause to complain of our loyalty, nor we of your rule.’ Thanks were accorded to Camillus both by the enemy and by his own countrymen. The Faliscans were ordered to supply the pay of the troops for that year, in order that the Roman people might be free from the war-tax. After the peace was granted, the army was marched back to Rome.