An audience of the senate was then granted to the Campanians.
Their speech was more calculated to excite compassion, but their case less favourable; for neither could they deny that they deserved the punishment they had suffered, nor were there any tyrants to whom they could transfer their guilt.
But they trusted that sufficient atonement had been made by the death of so many of their senators by poison and the hands of the executioner. They said, “that a few only of their nobles remained, being such as were not induced by the consciousness of their demerit to adopt any desperate measure respecting themselves, and had not been condemned to death through the resentment of their conquerors.
That these implored the restoration of their liberty, and some portion of their goods for themselves and families, being citizens of Rome, and most of them connected with the Romans by affinity and now too near relationship, in consequence of intermarriages which had taken place for a long period.”
After this they were removed from the senate-house, when for a short time doubts were entertained whether it would be right or not to send for Quintus Fulvius from Capua, (for Claudius, the proconsul, died after the capture of that place,) that the [p. 1062]
question might be canvassed in the presence of the general who had been concerned, as was done in the affair between Marcellus and the Sicilians.
But afterwards, when they saw in the senate Marcus Atilius, and Caius Fulvius, the brother of Flaccus, his lieutenant-generals, and Quintus Minucius, and Lucius Veturius Philo, who were also his lieutenant-ge- nerals, who had been present at every transaction; and being unwilling that Fulvius should be recalled from Capua, or the Campanians put
off, Marcus Atilius Regulus, who possessed the greatest weight of any of those present who had been at Capua, being asked his opinion, thus spoke:
“I believe I assisted at the council held by the consuls after the capture of Capua, when inquiry was made whether any of the Campanians had deserved well of our state; and it was found that two women had done so; Vestia Oppia, a native of Atella and an inhabitant of Capua, and Faucula Cluvia, formerly a common woman.
The former had daily offered sacrifice for the safety and success of the Roman people, and the latter had clandestinely supplied the starving prisoners with food. The sentiments of all the rest of the Campanians towards us had been the same,” he said, “as those of the Carthaginians; and those who had been decapitated by Fulvius, were the most conspicuous in rank, but not in guilt.
I do not see,” said he, “how the senate can decide respecting the Campanians who are Roman citizens, without an order of the people. And the course adopted by our ancestors, in the case of the Satricani when they had revolted, was, that Marcus Antistius, the plebeian tribune, should first propose and the commons make an order, that the senate should have the power of pronouncing judgment upon the Satricani.
I therefore give it as my opinion, that application should be made to the plebeian tribunes, that one or more of them should propose to the people a bill, by which we may be empowered to determine in the case of the Campanians.”
Lucius Atilius, plebeian tribune, proposed to the people, on the recommendation of the senate, a bill to the following effect:
“Concerning all the Campanians, Atellanians, Calatinians, and Sabatinians, who have surrendered themselves to the proconsul Fulvius, and have placed themselves under the authority and dominion of the Roman people; also concerning what things they have surrendered, together with their persons, both lands and city, [p. 1063]
divine or human, together with their utensils and whatsoever else they have surrendered; concerning these things, Roman citizens, I ask you what it is your pleasure should be done.”
The commons thus ordered: “Whatsoever the senate on oath, or the majority of those present, may determine, that we will and order.”