"If such just resentment have no influence with us, will not, I entreat you, the following considerations influence you? Their city has been enclosed with immense works, by which the enemy is confined within their walls.
They have not tilled their land, and what was previously tilled has been laid waste in the war.
If we withdraw our army, who is there who can doubt that they will invade our territory not only from a desire of revenge, but from the necessity also imposed on them of plundering from the property of others, since they have lost their own? By such measures then we do not put off the war, but admit it within our own frontiers.
What shall I say of that which properly interests the soldiers, for whose interests those worthy tribunes of the commons, all on a sudden, are now so anxious to provide, after they have endeavoured to wrest their pay front them? How does it stand?
They have formed a rampart and a trench, both works of great labour, through so great an extent of ground; they have erected forts, at first only a few, afterwards very many, when the army became increased; they have raised defenders not only towards the city, but towards Etruria also, against any succours which may come from thence.
What need I mention towers, vineae, and testudines, and the other apparatus used in attacking towns? When so much labour has been expended, and they have now at length reached the end of the work, do you think that all these preparations should be abandoned that, next summer, the same course of toil may have to be undergone again in forming them anew?
How much less trouble to support the works already [p. 328]
done, and to press on and persevere, and to get rid of our task! For certainly the matter is of short duration, if it be conducted with a uniform course of exertions; nor do we by these intermissions and interruptions expedite the attainment of our hopes.
I am now speaking of labour and of loss of time. What? do these such frequent meetings in Etruria on the subject of sending aid to Veii suffer us to disregard the danger which we encounter by procrastinating the war?
As matters stand now, they are incensed, they dislike them, they refuse to send any; as far as they are concerned, we are at liberty to take Veii. Who can promise that their temper will be the same hereafter, if the war is suspended?
when, if you suffer any relaxation, more respectable and more frequent embassies will go; when that which now displeases the Etrurians, the establishment of a king at Veii, may, after an interval, be done away with, either by the joint determination of the state that they may recover the good will of the Etrurians, or by a voluntary act of the king, who may be unwilling that his reign should stand in the way of the welfare of his countrymen.
See how many circumstances, and how detrimental, follow that line of conduct: the loss of works formed with so great labour; the threatening devastation of our frontiers; an Etruscan excited instead of a Veientian war.
These, tribunes, are your measures, pretty much the same, in truth, as if a person should render a disease tedious, and perhaps incurable, for the sake of present meat or drink, in a patient who, by resolutely suffering himself to be treated, might soon recover his health.