then said Pontius, "I will not receive this surrender, nor will the Samnites hold it valid.
and you, Spurius Postumius, if you believe in the existence of the gods, why not either reject the whole negotiation or abide by your agreement? The Samnite People is entitled to all whom it had in its power, or to peace in place of them.
but why do I appeal to you, who yield yourself a prisoner as honourably as you can? i appeal to the Roman People; if they repent them of the pledge that was given at the Caudine Forks, let them replace their legions in the defile where they were surrounded.
let no one deceive anybody; let as though it had not happened; let them resume the arms they laid down in accordance with the compact; let them go back to their camp; whatever they had on the day before the conference, let them have again; then
let them vote for war and warlike measures, then
let [p. 203]
them reject the guarantee and the peace!
fight it out in those circumstances, and in those positions, which were ours before peace was mentioned; let the Roman People not blame the pledge given by the consuls, nor let us blame the honour of the Roman People.
will you never, when you have been beaten, lack excuses for not holding to your covenants? you gave hostages to Porsinna —and withdrew them by a trick.2
you ransomed your City from the Gauls with gold —and cut them down as they were receiving the gold.3
you pledged us peace, on condition that we gave you back your captured legions —and you nullify the peace. and always you contrive to give the fraud some colour of
legality. does the Roman People not approve the preservation of its legions by a disgraceful peace? let it keep its peace, and give back the captured legions to the victor; that would be conduct worthy of its promise, its covenants, its fetial
ceremonies. that you, on your side, should have what you aimed at in your compact, the safety of these many citizens, but that I should not have the peace I stipulated for, when I released them, —is this the judgment which you, Aulus Cornelius, and you, fetials, render to the nations?
“as for me, I will none of these whom you pretend to be surrendering, nor do I deem them to be surrendered, neither do I stand in the way of their returning, despite the wrath of all the gods, whose divinity they have made a mock, to the City which is committed by their
guarantee. aye, go to war, since Spurius Postumius has just now jostled the envoy with his knee! so shall the gods believe that Postumius is a Samnite —not a Roman —citizen, [p. 205]
and that a Roman envoy has been maltreated by a4
Samnite, and that you, in consequence of this, have justly made war on
us! does it not shame you to bring forth into the light of day these mockeries of religion, and, old men and consulars as you are, to devise such quibbles to evade your promise as were scarce worthy of
children? go, lictor, strike their fetters from the Romans; let no man hinder them from departing when they list.” and the guarantors, released it may be from the nation's pledge, but at all events from their own, returned from Caudium, inviolate, to the Roman camp.