"I shall hereafter explain to you how not only expedient, but even necessary has been this plan of my colleagues, according to which they would not draw off the army from Veii until the business has been completed. For the present I am disposed to speak concerning the condition of the soldiers.
Which observations of mine I think would appear reasonable not only before you, but even, if they were delivered in the camp, in the opinion of the soldiers themselves; on which subject if nothing could suggest itself to my own mind to say, I certainly should be satisfied with that which is suggested by the arguments of my adversaries.
They lately said, that pay should not be given to the soldiers because it had never been given. How then can they now feel displeased, that additional labour should be imposed in due proportion on those to whom some addition of profit has been added?
In no case is there either labour without emolument, nor emolument in general without the expense of labour. Toil and pleasure, in their natures most unlike, are yet linked together by a sort of natural connexion.
Formerly the soldier thought it a hardship that he gave his labour to the commonwealth at his own expense; at the same time he was glad for a part of the year to till his own ground; to acquire that means whence he might support himself and family at home and in war.
Now he feels a pleasure that the republic is a source of advantage to him, and gladly receives his pay. Let him therefore bear with patience that he is a little longer absent from home and his family affairs, to which no heavy expense is now attached.
Whether if the commonwealth should call him to a settlement of accounts, would it not justly say, You have pay by the year, perform labour by the year? do you think it just to receive a whole year's pay for six months' service?
Romans, with reluctance do I dwell on this topic; for so ought those persons proceed who employ mercenary troops. But we wish to treat as with fellow-citizens, and we think it only just that you treat with us as with the country.
Either the war should not have been undertaken, or it ought to be conducted suitably to the dignity of the Roman people, and brought to a close as soon as possible.
But it will be brought to a conclusion if we press on the besieged; if we do not retire until we have consummated our hopes by the capture of Veii. In truth, if there were no other motive, the very discredit of the thing should impose on us perseverance.
In former times a city was kept besieged for ten years, on account of one woman, by all Greece. At what a distance from their homes!
how many lands, how many seas distant! We grumble at enduring a siege of a year's duration within twenty [p. 327]
miles of us, almost within sight of our own city; because, I suppose, the cause of the war is trifling, nor is there resentment sufficiently just to stimulate us to persevere. Seven times they have rebelled: in peace they never acted faithfully.
They have laid waste our lands a thousand times: the Fidenatians they forced to revolt from us: they have put to death our colonists there: contrary to the law of nations, they have been the instigators of the impious murder of our ambassadors:
they wished to excite all Etruria against us, and are at this day busily employed at it; and they scarcely refrained from violating our ambassadors when demanding restitution. With such people ought war to be conducted in a remiss and dilatory manner?