while one was suggesting this thing and another that, Annius arose. “notwithstanding I have myself referred to you,” said he, “the question as to what our reply should be, nevertheless I consider that what we are to do is of more importance to the welfare of our nation than what we are to say.
it will be easy, when we have straightened out our plans, to frame words suitable to our conduct. for if we are able even now to endure slavery under a shadowy pretence of equal treaty —rights, what is left for us but to give up the Sidicini, and obeying the behest not of the Romans only but also of the Samnites, make answer to the Romans that we are ready to lay down our arms at their beck and call?
but if our hearts are pricked at last with a longing for liberty; if treaties, if alliances, mean equality of rights; if we may now glory in the kinship of the Romans, of which we were formerly ashamed; if they mean by “allied army” one which added to their own doubles its numbers, one which they would not wish to make its own war and peace, apart from them; —if
these things are so, I say, why are not all
why is not one consul furnished by the Latins? where a portion of the strength is, there, too, should be a portion of the authority.
for us, indeed, this is not in itself any too great an honour, since we suffer Rome to be the capital of Latium; but we have made it seem an [p. 15]
honour by our prolonged submissiveness.
if ever at any time you have desired to share in the government and to use your freedom, behold, now is your opportunity, bestowed on you by your valour and by Heaven's favour!
you have tried their patience by denying them troops; who can doubt that they were enraged when we broke the tradition of two hundred years? yet they swallowed their resentment. we waged war on our own account with the Paeligni; those who aforetime withheld from us even the right to defend our own borders by ourselves, never interposed.
they have heard how we received the Sidicini into our protection, how the Campanians have left them and joined us, how we are raising armies against the Samnites, their confederates, —and have not stirred from the City.
whence comes this great restraint on their part, if it come not from the consciousness of our strength —and their own? Ihave good authority for saying that when the Samnites were complaining of us, the Roman senate answered in such wise that it might readily appear that even the Romans themselves no longer demanded that Latium should be under their authority.
do but take up in your demands what they tacitly concede to you. if there is any man whom fear prevents from saying this, lo, I declare that I myself will say it, in the hearing not of the Roman People only and their senate, but of Jupiter himself, who dwells in the Capitol; that if they wish us to observe the treaty of alliance, they must receive from us one consul and a moiety of the senate.”
These bold encouragements, and even promises, were received with a general shout of approval, and Annius was empowered to act and speak as might seem [p. 17]
conducive to the welfare of the Latin state and befitting2
his own honour.