"So painful to me, Quirites, are these controversies with the tribunes of the plebs, that my most bitter exile knew no other solace but this, all the time that I lived at Ardea, that I was far away from these contentions. And they are likewise the cause that though you had a thousand times recalled me by resolution of the senate and the people's vote, I intended never to return.
Nor have I now been induced to do so by any change in my desires, but by the alteration in your fortunes. For the issue was this, that my countrymen should abide in their own home, not that I, at any or all costs, should be with my countrymen. Even now I would gladly stop and hold my peace, were not this too the quarrel of my country; whom to fail while life endures is in other men disgraceful, but in Camillus impious.
For why did we seek to win her back, why rescue her, when besieged, from the hands of the enemy, if, now that she is recovered, we voluntarily abandon her? And although, while the Gauls were victorious and in possession of the entire City, the Capitol nevertheless and the Citadel were held by the gods and men of Rome, shall we now, when the Romans are victorious and the City is regained, desert even Citadel and Capitol? Shall our prosperity make Rome more desolate than our adversity has done?
Indeed, if we had no religious rites established with the founding of the City and by tradition handed down, [p. 173]
yet so manifest has at this time the divine purpose1
been in the affairs of Rome, that I for one should suppose it no longer possible for men to neglect the worship of the gods.
For consider these past few years in order, with their successes and reverses; you will find that all things turned out well when we obeyed the gods, and ill when we spurned them.
First of all, the war with Veii. How many years we fought, and with what painful exertion! And the end came not, until, admonished by Heaven, we drew the water off from the Alban Lake.
What, I beseech you, of this strange disaster that lately overwhelmed our City? Did it come before we disregarded the voice from Heaven that announced the approach of the Gauls? before the law of nations was violated by our envoys? before we, that ought to have punished their fault, had passed it by, with the same indifference towards the gods?
Therefore were we conquered, led captive, and put to ransom; and suffered such punishments at the hands of gods and men as to be a warning to all the world.
Adversity then turned our thoughts upon religion. We fled for refuge to the Capitol and its gods, to the seat of Jupiter Optimus Maximus; of our holy things, some, in the ruin of our fortunes, we concealed in the earth, others we removed to neighbouring cities out of sight of our enemies; in the worship of the gods, albeit forsaken of gods and men, yet were we unceasing.
Therefore have they given us our native land again, and victory, and our ancient renown in war that we had forfeited; and against our enemies, who, blinded with greed, broke treaty and troth in the weighing of the gold, have they turned dismay and rout and slaughter. [p. 175]