“Or suppose that by crime or chance a fire should break out at Veii, and that the wind should spread the flames, as may easily happen, until they consume a great part of the city; are we to quit it, and seek out Fidenae, or Gabii, or any other town you like, and migrate thither?
Have the soil of our native City and this land which we call our mother so slight a hold on us?
Is our love of country confined to buildings and rafters? And in truth I will confess to you —though: like not to recall the wrong you did me —that as often, during my absence, as I thought of my native place, all these objects came into my mind: the hills and the fields and the Tiber and the region familiar to my eyes, and this sky beneath which I had been born and reared. And I wish these things may rather move you now with love, Quirites, to make you abide in your own home, than afterwards, when you have left it, torment you with vain regrets.
Not without cause did gods and men select this [p. 185]
place for establishing our City —with its healthful1
hills; its convenient river, by which crops may be floated down from the midland regions and foreign commodities brought up; its sea, near enough for use, yet not exposing us, by too great propinquity, to peril from foreign fleets; a situation in the heart of Italy —a spot, in short, of a nature uniquely adapted for the expansion of a city.
This is proved by the very greatness of so new a place. It is now, Quirites, in its three hundred and sixty-fifth year. Amongst all these ancient nations you have for so long a time been waging wars; and all this while — to say nothing of single cities —neither the Volsci joined with the Aequi, and all their powerful towns, nor all Etruria, with its enormous strength on land and water, and its occupancy of the entire breadth of Italy from sea to sea, has been a match for you in war.
Since this is so, what a plague is the reason why you that have experienced these things should experiment with others? Granting that your valour may go elsewhere, yet surely the fortune of this place could not be taken along!
Here is the Capitol, where men were told, when of old they discovered there a human head, that in that place should be the head of the world and the seat of empire; here, when the Capitol was being cleared with augural rites, Juvent as and Terminus, to the vast joy of your fathers, refused to be removed; here are Vesta's fires, here the shields that were sent down from heaven, here are all the gods propitious, if you remain.”