After the consul had thus spoken, the ambassadors were dismissed; and as they were returning home, one of them, [p. 841]
named Vibius Virius, observed, “that the time had arrived at which the Campanians might not only recover the territory once injuriously taken away by the Romans, but also possess themselves of the sovereignty of Italy.
For they might form a treaty with Hannibal on whatever terms they pleased; and there could be no question but that after Hannibal, having put an end to the war, had himself retired victorious into Africa, and had withdrawn his troops, the sovereignty of Italy would be left to the Campanians.”
All assenting to Vibius, as he said this, they framed their report of the embassy so that all might conclude that the Roman power was annihilated.
Immediately the commons and the major part of the senate turned their attention to revolt.
The measure, however, was postponed for a few days at the instigation of the elder citizens. At last, the opinion of the majority prevailed, that the same ambassadors who had gone to the Roman consul should be sent to Hannibal.
I find in certain annals, that before this embassy proceeded, and before they had determined on the measure of revolting, ambassadors were sent by the Campanians to Rome, requiring that one of the consuls should be elected from Campania if they wished assistance to the Roman cause.
That from the indignation which arose, they were ordered to be removed from the senate-house, and a lictor despatched to conduct them out of the city and command them to lodge that day without the Roman frontier.
But as this request is too much like that which the Latins formerly made, and as Cœlius and other writers had, not without reason, made no mention of it, I have not ventured to vouch for its truth.