Lucretius returned with vast spoils and far1
greater glory; and this he increased, on his arrival, by exposing all the booty in the Campus Martius, where it lay for three days, that every man might identify and carry off what belonged to him.
The other things, for which no owner appeared, were sold. That the consul had earned a triumph all agreed; but the matter was put off, for the tribune was urging his law, and this was a question of more importance in the eyes of Lucretius.
The measure was debated several days, not only in the senate but before the people. Finally the tribune gave way to the majesty of the consul and desisted.
The general and his army then received their meed of honour; Lucretius triumphed over the Volsci and the Aequi, and his own legions followed the triumphal chariot. The other consul was permitted to enter the City in an ovation,2
In the following year the Terentilian law was brought up again by the entire college and menaced the new consuls, to wit, Publius Volumnius and Servius Sulpicius.
This year the heavens were seen to blaze, and the earth was shaken with a prodigious quake. That a cow had spoken —a thing which had found no credence the year before —was now believed. Among other portents there was even a rain of flesh, [p. 37]
which is said to have been intercepted by vast numbers3
of birds flying round in the midst of it; what fell to the ground lay scattered about for several days, but without making any stench.
The two commissioners for sacred rites consulted the Sibylline Books, where it was predicted that there was danger to come from a concourse of foreigners, lest they attack the highest places of the City, and blood be shed; amongst other things was a warning to avoid factions. The tribunes charged them with trying to hinder their law, and a violent struggle was impending; when lo!
—that the same cycle of events might recur each year —the Hernici announced that the Volsci and the Aequi, despite the losses they had sustained, were again fitting out their armies; that Antium was the centre of the enterprise; that at Ecetra Antian colonists were holding public meetings; and that the Antiates were the head and sinews of the war.
After listening to this report, the senate decreed a levy, and directed the consuls to divide between them the direction of the war, so that one might operate against the Volsci, the other against the Aequi.
The tribunes openly and loudly protested in the Forum that the Volscian war was a prearranged farce, and that the nobles had employed the Hernici to act a part in it: they no longer used manhood even, to suppress the liberty of the Roman People, but cajoled and tricked them.
Inasmuch as the almost total destruction of the Volsci and Aequi made it incredible that they should be going to war on their own initiative, new enemies were trumped up, and a loyal and neighbouring colony was traduced.
It was against the innocent Antiates that war was being declared; it was being [p. 39]
waged against the Roman plebeians, whom the4
consuls would load with arms and lead out of the City in hot haste, exiling and banishing citizens to avenge themselves upon the tribunes.
By these means —and they need not think that anything else had been intended —the law was already defeated, unless, while the situation was still intact, while they were at home, while they still wore the toga, they should guard themselves against expulsion from the City and submitting to the yoke.
If they proved courageous, help would not be wanting; the tribunes were all of one mind. There was no fear of foreign foes, no danger; the gods had seen to it the previous year that they might defend their liberties in safety. To this purport the tribunes.