IN the following year came the Caudine Peace,1
the notorious sequel of a disaster to the Roman arms.
Titus Veturius Calvinus and Spurius Postumius were consuls.2
The Samnites had that year for their general Gaius Pontius, whose father Herennius far excelled them all in wisdom, while the son was their foremost warrior and captain.
when the envoys who had been dispatched to make restitution returned without having achieved a peace, Pontius said: “you must not think that this embassy has been of no avail: whatever divine resentment we incurred by breaking the treaty3
has been appeased.
well do I know that whatever gods desired that we might be compelled to restore the spoils which had been demanded again of us in accordance with the treaty did not desire that our expiation of the treaty should be so scornfully rejected by the Romans.
for what more could have been done to mollify the gods and to placate men than we have done? The goods of the enemy which we had taken as booty, and regarded as our own by the laws of war, we restored to them;
the authors of the war, whom we could not surrender living, we surrendered dead; their possessions —that no guilt might remain with us from touching them —we carried to Rome.
what more do I owe to you, Romans, or to the treaty, or to the gods, its witnesses? whom can I proffer as umpire betwixt [p. 165]
your anger and my punishment? i refuse no nation,4
no private citizen.
but if, in dealing with the mighty, the weak are left no human rights, yet will I seek protection of the gods, who visit retribution on intolerable pride, and will beseech them that they tum their anger against those who are not content with the restitution of their own possessions, nor the heaping up in addition of
other men's; whose rage is not sated with the death of the guilty, nor with the surrender of their lifeless bodies, nor with the master's goods going with that surrender —unless we yield them our blood to drink and our flesh to rend.
Samnites, that war is just which is necessary, and righteous are their arms to whom, save only in arms, no hope is left.
since, therefore, it is of the utmost moment in the affairs of men whether what they undertake be pleasing in the sight of Heaven or whether it be offensive, be well assured that you waged your former war rather against gods than men, but that you will wage this war now threatening with the gods themselves for your leaders.”