"With such enemies ought we to wage a fainthearted and dilatory war? If so just grounds of resentment have no power to move us, pray have the following considerations none?
The city is hemmed in with vast siege-works, which confine the enemy within his walls; he has not cultivated his land, and what was cultivated has been laid waste in the war;
if we bring our army back, who can doubt that not only a desire for revenge, but also necessity, constraining them to plunder others since they have lost their own possessions, will cause them to invade our territory? So we are not postponing the war, if we act on your advice, but are receiving it within our own borders.
And what of that matter which [p. 17]
specially concerns the soldiers, whom the worthy1
plebeian tribunes formerly wished to rob of their pay, but are now desirous of protecting? How does it stand with them?
The rampart and the trench, each involving prodigious toil, they have carried all that distance; forts they erected only a few at first, but since then, with the growth of the army, they have built very many; they have thrown up earthworks, not only against the city, but also facing Etruria, if any aid should come from that side; what need to speak of towers, mantlets, penthouses, and the rest of the equipment for storming towns?
When they have expended all this labour, and the end of their task is at last in sight, do you: vote for abandoning these things, that when summer comes they may sweat and toil again to produce them afresh?
How much less effort it requires to guard what is already made, and to press on and persevere and put an end to our anxiety! For surely it is- a thing soon done, if we carry it through without stopping, and do not ourselves drag out our hopes with these interruptions and delays.
I talk of the loss of time and labour; what of the danger that we run by putting off the war? Do -the frequent debates in Etruria about the dispatch of succours to Veii allow us to forget it?
Just now they are angry and resentful, and declare that they will send none; for all they care, we may capture Veii. But who is to guarantee that if we postpone the campaign they will hereafter feel the same:
since if you slacken, a greater and more numerous embassy will set out, [p. 19]
and since what now offends the Etruscans —the2
setting up of a king at Veii —may be altered with the lapse of time or by agreement of the citizens, to the end that thereby they may regain the goodwill of Etruria; or with the consent of the King himself, who would not wish his sovereignty to hurt the safety of his people?
See how many undesirable consequences attend that line of policy: the loss of works constructed with such effort; the imminent devastation of our fields; the Etruscans, instead of the Veientes only, aroused to war with us.
It is thus, tribunes, that you would manage matters, much as though in dealing with a sick man, who if he would undergo a strict regimen might begin at once to recover, you should protract his illness and perhaps render it incurable, by .indulging his immediate desire for meat and drink.