Then for the first time were the Caeritians seized with a real dread of war, as if there was greater power in the words of the enemy to indicate war than in their own acts, who had provoked the Romans by devastation; and they perceived how ill suited the contest was to their strength. They repented of their depredations, and cursed the Tarquinians as the instigators of the revolt.
Nor did any one think of preparing arms and hostilities; but each strenuously urged the necessity of sending ambassadors to sue for pardon for their error.
When their ambassadors applied to the senate, being referred by the senate to the people, they implored the gods, whose sacred utensils they had received in the Gallic war and [p. 471]
treated with all due ceremony, that the same compassion for them might influence the Romans now in a flourishing condition, which had formerly influenced themselves when the state of the Roman people was distressed; and turning to the temple of Vesta, they invoked the bonds of hospitality subsisting [between themselves] and the flamens and vestals entered into by them with holy and religious zeal:
“Would any one believe that persons, who possessed such merits, had suddenly become enemies without cause?
or if they had committed any act in a hostile manner, that they had, through design rather than under the influence of error from frenzy, so acted, as to cancel their former acts of kindness by recent injuries, more especially when conferred on persons so grateful, and that they would choose to themselves as enemies the Roman people, now in the most flourishing state and most successful in war, whose friendship they had cultivated when they were distressed? That they should not call it design, which should rather be called force and necessity. That the Tarquinians, passing through their territory with a hostile army, after they had asked for nothing but a passage, forced with them some of their peasants, to accompany them in that depredation, which was charged on them as a crime.
That they were prepared to deliver them up, if it pleased them that they should be delivered up; or that they should be subjected to punishment, if [they desired] that they should be punished.
That Caere, the sanctuary of the Roman people, the harbourer of its priests, the receptacle of the sacred utensils of Rome, they should suffer to escape, in regard to the ties of hospitality contracted with the vestals, and in regard to the religious devotion paid to their gods, intact and unstained with the charge of hostilities committed.”
The people were influenced not so much by [the merits of] the present case, as by their former deserts, so as to be unmindful rather of the injury than of the kindness. Peace was therefore granted to the people of Caere, and it was resolved that the making of a truce for one hundred years should be referred to a decree of the senate.
Against the Faliscians, implicated in the same charge, the force of the war was turned; but the enemy was no where found. Though their territories were visited in all directions with devastation, they refrained from besieging the towns; and the legions being brought back to [p. 472]
Rome, the remainder of the year was spent in repairing the walls and the towers, and the temple of Apollo was dedicated.