The question was of itself a hard one to decide, and every senator argued, as his own nature [p. 83]
prompted him, for severity or mercy; but the whole1
situation was rendered even more uncertain by one of the deputation from Privernum, who possessed a livelier sense of the condition in which he had been born than of the exigencies of the actual crisis.
this man, on being asked by a certain advocate of harsher measures what punishment he thought the Privernates merited, replied, “that punishment which is merited by those who deem themselves worthy to be free.”
The consul perceived that this proud answer had increased the hostility of those who were before assailing the cause of the Privernates.
in the hope that he might himself, by putting a more kindly question, elicit a friendlier response, “what,” said lie, “if we remit your punishment? what sort of peace may we hope to have with you?”
“if you grant us a good one,” was the answer, “you may look to find it faithfully and permanently kept; if a bad one, you must not expect that it will long endure.”
whereat some cried out that the Privernate was threatening them, and in no ambiguous terms, and asserted that by such words as those pacified peoples were roused up to rebellion. but the more merciful party in the senate put a better construction on his answer, and pronounced it the utterance of a man, and a man free —born. was it credible, they asked, that any nation, or for that matter any man, should abide longer than he must in a condition that was painful?
that peace, they asserted, was faithfully observed where the terms were willingly accepted; they must not hope for loyalty in a quarter where they sought to impose servitude.
The consul himself did the most to bring about2
the adoption of these views, by remarking repeatedly to the consulars, who led in the
expression of opinion, in a voice loud enough for many to overhear, that only those who took no thought for anything save.
liberty were worthy of becoming Romans. accordingly they gained their cause in the senate, and on the authorization of the Fathers a measure was brought before the people conferring citizenship on the Privernates.
in that same year three hundred colonists were sent to Anxur, where they received each two iugera