This honourable victory won from an enemy was sullied by a disgraceful decision
of the people respecting the territory of their allies. The inhabitants of Aricia and Ardea had frequently gone to war over some disputed land; tired at last of their many reciprocal defeats,
they referred the matter to the arbitrament of Rome. The magistrates convened an Assembly on their behalf, and when they had come to plead their cause, the debate was conducted with much warmth. When the evidence was concluded and the time came for the tribes to be called upon to vote, P. Scaptius, an aged plebeian, rose and said, ‘If, consuls, I am allowed to speak on matters of high policy, I will not
suffer the people to go wrong in this matter.’ The consuls refused him a hearing, as being a man of no credit, and when he loudly exclaimed that the commonwealth was being betrayed they ordered
him to be removed. He appealed to the tribunes. The tribunes, who are almost always ruled by the multitude more than they rule them, finding that the plebs were anxious to hear
him, gave Scaptius permission to say what he wanted. So he began by saying that he was now in his eighty-third year and had seen service in that country which was now in dispute, not as a young man but as a veteran of twenty years'
standing, when the war was going on against Corioli. He therefore alleged as a fact, forgotten through lapse of time, but deeply imprinted in his own memory, that the disputed land formed part of the territory of Corioli, and when that city was taken, became by the right of war part of the State domain of Rome. The Ardeates and Aricians had never claimed it while Corioli was unconquered, and he was wondering how they could hope to filch it from the people of Rome,
whom they had made arbiters instead of rightful owners. He had not long to live, but he could not, old as he was, bring himself to refrain from using the only means in his power, namely, his voice, in order to assert the right to that territory which as a soldier he had done his best to win. He earnestly advised the people not to pronounce, from a false feeling of delicacy, against a cause which was really their own.