Upon the death of Numa, the administration returned again to an interregnum. After that the people appointed as king, Tullus Hostilius, the grandson of that Hostilius who had made the noble stand against the Sabines at the foot of the citadel.
The fathers confirmed the choice. He was not only unlike the preceding king, but was even of a more warlike disposition than Romulus. Both his youth and strength, and the renown of his grandfather, stimulated his ambition. Thinking therefore that the state was becoming languid through quiet, he every where sought for pretexts for stirring up war.
It happened that some Roman and Alban peasants had mutually plundered each other's lands. C. Cluilius at that time governed Alba.
From both sides ambassadors were sent almost at the same time, to demand restitution. Tullus ordered his to attend to nothing before their instructions. He knew well that the Alban would refuse, and that so war might be proclaimed on just grounds. Their commission was executed more remissly by the Albans.
For being courteously and kindly entertained by Tullus, they politely avail themselves of the king's hospitality. Meanwhile the Romans had both been first in demanding restitution, and, upon the refusal of the Albans, had proclaimed war after an interval of thirty days: of this they give Tullus notice. Upon this he granted the Alban ambassadors an opportunity of stating what they came to demand.
They, ignorant of all, waste some time in making apologies: “That it was with the utmost reluctance they should say any thing which was not pleasing to Tullus; but they were compelled by their orders. That they had come to demand restitution; and if this be not made, they were commanded to declare war.”
To this Tullus made answer, “Go tell your king, that the king of the Romans takes the gods to witness, which of the two nations hath with contempt first dismissed the ambassadors demanding restitution, that on it they may visit all the calamities of this war.” The Albans carry home these tidings.