At Numa's death the state reverted to an1
interregnum. Then Tullus Hostilius, grandson of that Hostilius who had distinguished himself in the battle with the Sabines at the foot of the citadel, was declared king by the people, and the senate confirmed their choice.
This monarch was not only unlike the last, but was actually more warlike than Romulus had been. Besides his youth and strength, the glory of his grandfather was also an incentive to him. So, thinking that the nation was growing decrepit from inaction, he everywhere sought excuses for stirring up war.
It happened that the Roman rustics were [p. 77]
driving off cattle from Alban territory, while the2
Albans were treating the Romans in the same way. The man who was then in power in Alba was Gaius Cluilius.
Each side, at about the same time, sent envoys to demand restitution. Tullus had commanded his envoys to do nothing else till they had carried out his orders; he felt convinced that the Albans would refuse his demands, in which case he could declare war with a good conscience. The Alban representatives proceeded rather laxly.
Received by Tullus with gracious and kindly hospitality, they attended in a friendly spirit the banquet which he gave in their honour. Meanwhile the Romans had been beforehand with them in seeking redress, and, being denied it by the Alban leader, had made a declaration of war, to take effect in thirty days.
Returning, they reported these things to Tullus, who thereupon invited the Alban envoys to inform him of the object of their mission. They, knowing nothing of what had happened, at first spent some time in apologies. They said they should be sorry to utter anything which might give offence to Tullus, but that they were compelled to do so by their orders; they had come to seek restitution; if it should be denied them they were commanded to declare war.
To this Tullus replied: “Tell your king the Roman king calls the gods to witness which people first spurned the other's demand for redress and dismissed its envoys, that they may call down upon the guilty nation all the disasters of this war.”