When different persons advanced different opinions, then Annius says: “Though I myself put the question, as to what answer it might be your pleasure should be given, yet I think it more concerns our general interest how we should act than how we should speak.
Your plans being once unfolded, it will be easy to suit words to the subject; for if even now we are capable of submitting to slavery under the shadow of a confederacy on equal terms, what is wanting but to betray the Sidicinians, be obedient to the orders not only of the Romans, but of the Samnites, and tell the Romans, that we will lay down our arms whenever they intimate it to be their wish?
But if at length a desire of liberty stimulates your minds, if a confederacy does subsist, if alliance be equalization of rights, if there be reason now to boast that we are of the same blood as the Romans, of which they were formerly ashamed, if they have such an army of allies, by the junction of which they may double their strength, such a one as their consuls would be unwilling to separate from themselves either in concluding or commencing their own wars; why are not all things equalized?
why is not one of the consuls chosen from the Latins?
Where there is an equal share of strength, is there also an equal share in the government? This indeed in itself reflects no extraordinary degree of honour on us, as still acknowledging Rome to be the metropolis of Latium; but that it may possibly appear to do so, has been effected by our long-continued forbearance.
But if ye ever wished for an opportunity of sharing in the government, and enjoying freedom, lo!
this opportunity is now at hand, presented both by your own valour and the bounty of the gods. Ye have tried their patience by refusing them soldiers.
Who doubts that they were fired with rage, when we broke through a custom of more than two hundred years? Still they submitted to this feeling of resentment. We waged war with the Pelignians in our own name.
They who formerly did not even concede to us the right of defending our own territories through our- [p. 508]
selves, interfered not. They heard that the Sidicinians were received under our protection, that the Campanians had revolted from themselves to us, that we were preparing armies against their confederates, the Samnites; yet they stirred not from the city.
Whence this so great forbearance on their part, except from a knowledge of our strength and their own? I have it from competent authority, that when the Samnites complained of us, such an answer was given them by the Roman senate, as plainly showed that not even themselves insisted that Latium was under the Roman jurisdiction. Only assume your rights in demanding that which they tacitly concede to you.
If fear prevents any one from saying this, lo! I pledge myself that I will say it, in the hearing not only of the Roman people and senate, but of Jupiter himself, who inhabits the Capitol; that if they wish us to be in confederacy and alliance with them, they are to receive one consul from us, and one half of the senate.”
When he not only recommended these measures boldly, but promised also his aid, they all, with acclamations of assent, permitted him to do and say whatever might appear to him conducive to the republic of the Latin nation and his own honour.