“If, by Jove, it were of no consequence with respect to the present war, yet it certainly would be of the utmost importance to military discipline, that our soldiers should be accustomed not only to enjoy the victory obtained by them;
but even though matters should proceed more slowly than was anticipated, to brook the tediousness and await the issue of their hopes, however tardy; and if the war be not finished in the summer, to wait for the winter, and not, like summer birds, in the very commencement of autumn look out for shelter and a retreat.
I pray you, the eagerness and pleasure of hunting hurries men into snow and frost, over mountains and woods; shall we not employ that patience on the exigencies of war, which even sport and pleasure are wont to call forth?
Are we to suppose that the bodies of our soldiers are so effeminate, their [p. 329]
minds so feeble, that they cannot hold out for one winter in a camp, and be absent from home? that, like persons who wage a naval war, by taking advantage of the weather, and observing the season of the year, they are able to endure neither heat nor cold?
They would certainly blush, should any one lay these things to their charge; and would maintain that both their minds and their bodies were possessed of manly endurance, and that they were able to conduct war equally well in winter and in summer; and that they had not consigned to the tribunes the patronage of indolence and sloth, and that they remembered that their ancestors had created this very power, neither in the shade nor beneath their roofs.
Such sentiments are worthy of the valour of your soldiers, such sentiments are worthy of the Roman name, not to consider merely Veii, nor this war which is now pressing us, but to seek a reputation for hereafter for other wars and for other states.
Do you consider the difference of opinion likely to result from this matter as trivial? Whether, pray are the neighbouring states to suppose that the Roman people is such, that if any one shall sustain their first assault, and that of very short continuance, they have nothing afterwards to fear?
or whether such should be the terror of our name, that neither the tediousness of a distant siege, nor the inclemency of winter, can dislodge the Roman army from a city once invested, and that they know no other termination of war than victory, and that they carry on wars not more by briskness than by perseverance; which is necessary no doubt in every kind of war, but more especially in besieging cities;
most of which, impregnable both by their works and by natural situation, time itself overpowers and reduces by famine and thirst; as it will reduce Veii, unless the tribunes of the commons shall afford aid to the enemy, and the Veientians find in Rome reinforcements which they seek in vain in Etruria.
Is there any thing which can happen so much in accordance with the wishes of the Veientians, as that
first the Roman city, then the camp, as it were by contagion, should be filled with sedition?
But, by Jove, among the enemy so forbearing a state of mind prevails, that not a single change has taken place among them, either through disgust at the length of the siege nor even of the kingly form of government; nor has the refusal of aid by the Etrurians aroused their tempers.
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whoever will be the abettor of sedition, will be instantly put to death; nor will it be permitted to any one to utter those sentiments which amongst you are expressed with impunity.
He is sure to receive the bastinade, who forsakes his colours or quits his post. Persons advising not one or two soldiers, but whole armies to relinquish their colours or to forsake their camp, are openly listened to in your public assemblies.
Accordingly whatever a tribune of the people says, although it tends to the ruin of the country or the dissolution of the commonwealth, you are accustomed to listen to with partiality; and captivated with the charms of that authority, you suffer all sorts of crimes to lie concealed beneath it.
The only thing that remains is, that what they vociferate here, the same projects do they realize in the camp and among the soldiers, and seduce the armies, and not suffer them to obey their officers;
since that and that only is liberty in Rome, to show no deference to the senate, nor to magistrates, nor laws, nor the usages of ancestors, nor the institutions of our fathers, nor military discipline.”