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The principal officers of the cavalry, with the centurions of highest rank and the pick of the legionaries, had been allowed by Lentulus to send a deputation to M. Marcellus in Italy.  One was allowed to speak on behalf of the rest, and this is what he said: "We should have approached you, Marcellus, when you were consul, in Italy, as soon as that severe if not unjust resolution of the senate was passed concerning us, had we not hoped that after being sent into a province thrown into confusion by the death of its kings, to take part in a serious war against [3??] Sicilians and Carthaginians combined, we should have made reparation to the senate by our blood and our wounds in the same way that those who were taken by Pyrrhus at Heraclea, [4??] within the memory of our fathers, made reparation by fighting against Pyrrhus afterwards.  And yet, what have we done, senators, that you should be wrath with us then or that we should deserve your anger now? I seem to myself to be gazing on the faces of both the consuls and of the whole senate when I look at you, Marcellus; if we had had you as our consul at Cannae, both we and the republic would have met with better fortune.  "Allow me, I pray you, before I complain of our treatment, to clear ourselves of the guilt which is laid to our charge.  If it was not through the anger of the gods or through the ordering of that destiny by whose laws the chain of human affairs is immutably linked together, but by the fault of man that we perished at Cannae, whose fault, pray, was it? The fault of the soldiers or of their commanders?  As a soldier I will never say a word about my commander, though I know that he was specially thanked by the senate because he did not despair of the republic, and has had his command extended every year since his flight from Cannae. Those of the survivors from that disaster, who were our military tribunes at the time, solicited and obtained office, as we have heard, and are in command of provinces.  Do you lightly forgive yourselves and your children, senators, whilst you reserve your anger for poor wretches like us? While it was no disgrace for the consul and the foremost men in the State to flee when all hope was lost, did you send us, the common soldiers, to meet certain death in the battle field?  At the Alia almost the entire army fled, at the Caudine Forks they delivered up their arms to the enemy without even attempting to fight, not to mention other shameful defeats that our armies have suffered.  But so far were those armies from having any humiliation inflicted upon them, that the City of Rome was recovered by the very army which had fled from [12??] the Alia to Veii, and the Caudine legions who had returned to Rome without their arms were sent back armed to Samniun, and made that same enemy pass under the yoke who had enjoyed seeing them undergo that humiliation.  Can any man charge the army at Cannae with flight or cowardice when more than 50,000 men fell there, when the consul fled with only seventy horsemen, when not one survives who fought there except those whom the enemy, wearied with slaughter, left alone.  When the ransom of the prisoners was vetoed we were universally praised because we had saved ourselves for our country, because we returned to the consul at Venusia and presented the appearance of a regular army.  But as it is, we are in a worse case than those prisoners in our fathers' days; for all that they had to endure was a change in their arms, in their military status, in their quarters in camp, and these they recovered by the one service they rendered to the State in fighting a successful battle. Not one of them was sent into exile, not one was deprived of the prospect of obtaining his discharge, and above all they had the chance of putting an end either to their life or their disgrace by fighting the enemy.  But we, against whom no charge can be brought except that it is through our fault that a single Roman soldier is [17??] left alive after the battle of Cannae-we, I say, have not only been sent far away from our native soil and from Italy, but we have been placed out of reach of the enemy, we are to grow old in exile, [18??] with no hope, no chance, of wiping out our shame, or of appeasing our fellow-citizens, or even of dying an honourable death. We are not asking for an end to our ignominy or for the rewards of valour, we only ask to be allowed to prove our mettle and to show our courage.  We ask for labours and dangers, for a chance of doing our duty as men and as soldiers. This is the second year of the war in Sicily with all its hard-fought battles.  The Carthaginians are capturing some cities, the Romans are taking others, infantry and cavalry meet in the shock of battle, at Syracuse a great struggle is going on [21??] by land and sea, we hear the shouts of the combatants and the clash of their arms, and we are sitting idly by, as though we had neither weapons nor hands to use them. The legions of slaves have fought many pitched battles under Tiberius Sempronius; they have as their reward freedom and citizenship, we implore you to treat us at least as slaves who have been purchased for this war, and to allow us to meet and fight the enemy and so win our freedom.  Are you willing to make proof of our courage by sea or by land, in the open field or against city walls?  We ask for whatever brings the hardest toil and the greatest danger, if only what ought to have been done at Cannae may be done as soon as we can do it, now. For all our life since has been but one long agony of shame."
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