Tarquinius had already won great influence1
with the Latin nobles, when he gave notice that they should assemble on a certain day at the grove of Ferentina, saying that there were matters of common interest which he wished to discuss.
The Latins gathered at daybreak in large numbers; Tarquinius himself, though he did indeed keep the day, arrived but a little while before sundown. There had been much talk in the council all day about various subjects. Turnus Herdonius of Aricia had inveighed violently against the absent Tarquinius.
He said it was no wonder he had been given the name of Superbus at Rome —for that was the name by which they already called him, secretly and in whispers, but still quite generally; —could anything be more overbearing than to flout the whole Latin race as he was doing then?
Their leaders had been summoned from distant homes, and the very man who had called the council was not there. He was evidently trying their patience, intending, if they submitted to the yoke, to use them as his vassals. For who could fail to see that he was aiming at sovereignty over the Latins?
If his own people had done well to intrust this to him, if indeed it had been intrusted to him at all, and had not been ravished by foul murder, then it was right that the Latins also should intrust it to him —nay,
not even then, for he was of foreign birth; but if his own subjects were weary of him, as men who, one after another, were being made to suffer death, exile, confiscation, what better prospect was held out to the Latins? If they were guided by the speaker they would depart every man to his own home, nor observe the day of meeting more than he who had proclaimed it was observing it.
As these [p. 177]
words and others of the same import were being2
uttered by the factious and turbulent Latin, who owed to these qualities his influence amongst his own people, Tarquinius came up.
This was the end of the speech; all turned to salute Tarquinius. Silence was commanded, and the king, being advised by those nearest him to excuse himself for having come so late, declared that he had been chosen arbiter between a father and his son, and had been delayed by his anxiety to reconcile them. He added that since this business had used up that day, he would take up on the morrow the matters which he had meant to bring before them.
They say that Turnus would not suffer even this to go unchallenged, asserting that there was no question more quickly settled than one betwixt father and son, for these few words were enough to end it: “Unless you obey your father it will be the worse for you.”