There I find that he spoke to this purport: "Though I am conscious to myself of no fault, Romans, yet with the greatest shame I have come forward to your assembly. That you should know this; that this should be handed down on record to posterity, that the Aequans and Volscians, a short time since scarcely a match for the Hernicians, have with impunity come with arms in their hands to the walls of Rome, in the fourth consulate of Titus Quintius.
Had I known that this ignominy was reserved for this particular year, (though we are now long living in such a manner, such is the state of affairs, that my mind could augur nothing good,) I would have avoided this honour either by exile or by death, [p. 241]
if there were no other means of escaping it.
Then if men of courage had those arms, which were at our gates, could Rome be taken in my consulate? I have had sufficient honours, enough and more than enough of life: I should have died in my third consulate. Whom did these most dastardly enemies despise?
us, consuls, or you, citizens? If the fault i in us, take away the command from us as unworthy persons; and if that is insufficient, further inflict punishment on us. If in you, may there be none of gods or men who will punish your offences; do you only repent of them.
It is not your cowardice they have despised, nor their own valour they have confided in; for having been so often routed and put to flight, stripped of their camp, amerced in their land, sent under the yoke, they know both themselves and you.
The discord among the several orders is the bane of this city; the contests of the patricians and commons have raised their spirits; whilst we have neither bounds in the pursuit of power, nor you in that of liberty, whilst you are tired of patrician, these of plebeian magistrates. In the name of heaven, what would ye have? You coveted tribunes of the commons; we conceded them for the sake of concord.
Ye longed for decemvirs; we suffered them to be created. Ye became weary of decemvirs; we compelled them to resign the office.
Your resentment against these same persons when they became private citizens still continuing, we suffered men of the highest families and rank to die or go into exile. Ye wished again to create tribunes of the commons; ye created them.
Though we saw that it was unjust to the patricians to create consuls in your own interest, we have even seen a patrician magistracy conceded as an offering to the people. The aid of tribunes, right of appeal to the people, the acts of the commons made binding on the patricians under the pretext of equalizing the laws, the subversion of our privileges, we have borne and still bear.
What termination is there to be to our dissensions? when shall it be allowed us to have a united city? when to have one common country? When defeated we submit with more resignation than you when victorious.
Is it enough for you, that you are objects of terror to us? The Aventine is taken against us; against us the Sacred mount is seized. When the Esquiliae is almost taken by the enemy, and when the Volscian foe is scaling your rampart, there is no one to [p. 242]
dislodge him: against us ye are men, against us ye take up arms.