On the death of Tullus the government devolved once more upon the senate, and they nominated an interrex; and on his holding the comitia, the people elected Ancus Marcius king. The fathers confirmed the election. Ancus Marcius was the grandson of king Numa Pompilius by his daughter.
As soon as he ascended the throne, reflecting on the renown of his grandfather, and that the late reign, glorious in every other respect, in one particular had not been sufficiently prosperous, the rites of religion having either been utterly neglected, or improperly performed; deeming it of the highest importance to perform the public ceremonies of religion as they had been instituted by Numa, he orders the pontiff, after he had transcribed them all from the king's commentaries on white tables, to expose them to public view. Hence, both his own subjects, desirous of peace, and the neighbouring nations, entertained a hope that the king would conform to the conduct and institutions of his grandfather.
Accordingly the Latins, with whom a treaty had been concluded in the reign of Tullus, assumed new courage; and after they had made an incursion upon the Roman lands, return a contemptuous answer to the Romans on their demanding restitution, supposing that the Roman king would spend his reign in indolence among chapels and altars.
The genius of Ancus was of a middle kind, partaking both of that of Numa and of Romulus; and, besides that, he thought that peace was more necessary in his grandfather's reign, considering the people were but recent as well as uncivilized, he also (considered) that he could not, without injury, preserve the tranquillity which had fallen to his lot; that his patience was tried, and being tried, was now despised; and that the times were more suited to a king Tullus than to a Numa.
In order, however, that as Numa had instituted religious rites in peace, ceremonies relating to war might be transmitted by him, and that wars might not only be waged, but proclaimed also according to some rite, he borrowed from an ancient nation, the Aequicolae, the form which the heralds still preserve, according to which restitution is [p. 45]
The ambassador, when he comes to the frontiers of the people from whom satisfaction is demanded, having his head covered with a fillet, (the fillet is of wool,) says, “Hear, O Jupiter, hear, ye confines, (naming the nation they belong to,) let Justice hear. I am a public messenger of the Roman people; I come justly and religiously deputed, and let my words gain credit.”
He then makes his demands; afterwards he makes a solemn appeal to Jupiter, “If I unjustly or impiously demand those persons and those goods to be given up to me, the messenger of the Roman people, then never permit me to enjoy my native country.”
These words he repeats when he passes over the frontiers; the same to the first man he meets; the same on entering the gate; the same on entering the forum, some few words in the form of the declaration and oath being changed.
If the persons whom he demands are not delivered up, on the expiration of thirty-three days, for so many are enjoined by the rule, he declares war, thus: “Hear, Jupiter, and thou, Juno, Romulus, and all ye celestial, terrestrial, and infernal gods, give ear!
I call you to witness, that this nation (naming it) is unjust, and does not act with equity; but we will consult the fathers in our own country concerning these matters, and by what means we may obtain our right.”
After that the messenger returns to Rome to consult: the king immediately used to consult the fathers almost in the following words: “Concerning such matters, differences, and quarrels, as the pater patratus of the Roman people, the Quirites, has conferred with the pater patratus of the ancient Latins, and with the ancient Latin people, which matters ought to be given up, performed, discharged, which matters they have neither given up, performed, nor discharged, declare,” says he to him, whose opinion he first asked, “what think you?” Then he said, “I think that they should be demanded by a just and regularly declared war, therefore I consent, and vote for it.”
Then the others were asked in order, and when the majority of those present agreed in the same opinion, the war was resolved on. It was customary for the fecialis to carry in his hand a javelin pointed with steel, or burnt at the end and dipped in blood, to the confines of the enemy's country, and in presence of at least three grown-up persons,
to say, “Forasmuch as the states of the ancient Latins, and the ancient Latin people, have offended against the Roman people, the Quirites, [p. 46]
forasmuch as the Roman people, the Quirites, have ordered that there should be war with the ancient Latins, and the senate of the Roman people, the Quirites, have given their opinion, consented, and voted that war should be made with the ancient Latins, on this account I and the Roman people declare and make war on the states of the ancient Latins, and on the ancient Latin people.”
After he had said that, he threw the spear within their confines. After this manner restitution was demanded from the Latins at that time, and war proclaimed: and that usage posterity have adopted.