‘Men of Ardea! friends of old, and now my fellow-citizens —for this your kindness has granted, this my fortunes have compelled —let none of you imagine that I have come here in forgetfulness of my position.1
The force of circumstances and the common danger constrain every man to contribute what help he can to meet the crisis. When shall I ever be able to show my gratitude for all the obligations you have conferred if I fail in my duty now?
When shall I ever be of any use to you if not in war? It was by that that I held my position in my native City as having never known defeat; in times of peace my ungrateful countrymen banished me.
Now the chance is offered to you, men of Ardea, of proving your gratitude for all the kindness that Rome has shown you —you have not forgotten how great it is, nor need I bring it up against those who so well remember it —the chance of winning for your city a vast reputation for war at the expense of our common foe. Those who are coming here in loose and disorderly fashion are a race to whom nature has given bodies and minds distinguished by bulk rather than by resolution and endurance.
It is for this reason that they bring into every battle a terrifying appearance rather than real force. Take the disaster of Rome as a proof.
They captured the City because it lay open to them; a small force repelled them from the Citadel and Capitol. Already the irksomeness of an investment has proved too much for them, they are giving it up and wandering through the fields in straggling parties.
When they are gorged with food and the wine they drink so greedily, they throw themselves down like wild beasts, on the approach of night, in all directions by the streams, without entrenching themselves, or setting any outposts or pickets on guard. And now after their success they are more careless than ever.
If it is your intention to defend your walls and not to allow all this country to become a second Gaul, seize your arms and muster in force by the first watch and follow me to what will be a massacre, not a battle. If I do not deliver them, whilst enchained by sleep, into your hands to be slaughtered like cattle, I am ready to accept the same fate in Ardea which I met with in Rome.’