The war was no sooner over than the popular leaders revived the internal dissensions, without any new cause of complaint, or just accusations, but making the very evils which had necessarily followed in the wake of their previous quarrels and disturbances a pretext for opposing the patricians. For the greater part of the land had been left unsown and untilled, and the war left no opportunity to arrange an importation of market supplies.
There was, therefore, a great scarcity of food, and when the popular leaders saw that there were no market supplies, and that if there were, the people had no money to buy them, they assailed the rich with slanderous accusations of purposely arraying the famine against them, in a spirit of revenge.
Moreover, there came an embassy from the people of Velitrae, who offered to hand their city over to the Romans, and begged them to send out colonists for it. For a pestilential disease had assailed them, and wrought such death and destruction among their citizens that hardly the tenth part of the whole number was left.
Accordingly, such of the Romans as were sensible thought that this request of the people of Velitrae had come at an advantageous and opportune time, since the scarcity of food made it needful to ease the city of its burdensome numbers; at the same time they also hoped to dissipate its sedition, if the most turbulent elements in it, and those which made most response to the exciting appeals of the popular leaders, should be purged away, like unhealthy and disturbing refuse from the body.
Such citizens, therefore, the consuls selected as colonists and ordered them forth to Velitrae. They also enlisted others in a campaign against the Volscians, contriving thus that there should be no leisure for intestine tumults, and believing that when rich and poor alike, plebeians as well as patricians, were once more united in military service and in common struggles for the public good, they would be more gently and pleasantly disposed towards one another.