The affair naturally admitted of a diversity of opinions, each, agreeably to his particular temper, recommending either severity or lenity; matters were still further perplexed by one of the Privernian ambassadors, more mindful of the prospects to which he had been born, than to the exigency of the present juncture: who being asked by one of the advocates for severity, “What punishment he thought the Privernians deserved?”
answered, “Such as those deserve who deem themselves worthy of liberty.”
The consul observing, that, by this stubborn answer, those who were adverse to the cause of the Privernians were the more exasperated against them, and wishing, by a question of favourable import, to draw from him a more conciliating reply, said to him, “What if
we re- mit the punishment, in what manner may we expect that ye will observe the peace which shall be established between us?” He replied, “If the peace which ye grant us be a good [p. 532]
one, both inviolable and eternal; if bad, of no long continuance.”
Then indeed some exclaimed, that the Privernian menaced them, and not in ambiguous terms; and that by such expressions peaceable states were incited to rebellion.
But the more reasonable part of the senate interpreted his answers more favourably, and said, that “the words they had heard were those of a man, and of a free-man. Could it be believed that any people, or even any individual, would remain, longer than necessity constrained, in a situation which he felt painful?
That peace was faithfully observed, only when those at peace were voluntarily so; but that fidelity was not to be expected where they wished to establish slavery.”
In this opinion they were led to concur, principally, by the consul himself, who frequently observed to the consulars, who had proposed the different resolutions, in such a manner as to be heard by several,
that “surely those men only who thought of nothing but liberty, were worthy of being made Romans.”
They consequently both carried their cause in the senate; and, moreover, by direction of that body, a proposal was laid before the people, that the freedom of the state should be granted to the Privernians.
The same year a colony of three hundred was sent to Anxur, and received two acres of land each.