Livy

Latin rights

Livy 8.14

This is the passage from Livy 8.14 in which he describes how the Latin rights were established — one of the crucial foundations of Rome’s future success.

Before the elections were held to appoint consuls for the following year, Camillus addressed the Senate on the subject of the Latin peoples, and spoke as follows: ‘Conscript Fathers, the task we had to perform in Latium by armed warfare has now reached conclusion by favour of the gods and the bravery of our soldiers. The enemy’s armies were cut to pieces at Pedum and on the Astura: all the Latin towns and Antium in Volscian territory have either been taken by storm or have offered surrender, and are now held by your garrisons. It remains to consider, since the Latins harass us so often by renewing hostilities, how we can keep them quiet and continuously at peace. The immortal gods have put you in control of the situation, so that the decision whether Latium shall exist in future or not is left in your hands; as far as the Latins are concerned, therefore, you have the power to create a permanent peace for yourselves by exercising either cruelty or forgiveness.

‘Do you choose to adopt harsh measures against men who have surrendered or suffered defeat? You may destroy the whole of Latium, and create vast deserts out of the places from where you have often drawn a splendid allied army to make use of in many a major war. Or do you want to follow the example of your ancestors and extend the State of Rome by admitting your defeated enemies as citizens? The material for such increase is there in abundance, with glory to be won of supreme kind. Certainly by far the strongest government is one to which men are happy to be subject.’

14. The leading members of the Senate praised the consul’s treatment of the main point at issue, but said that as the Latins were not all in the same position, his advice could best be carried out if the consuls would put proposals about the different peoples by name, so that a settlement could be reached according to their individual deserts. The Latins were accordingly dealt with under separate decrees. The Lanuvini were given citizenship and their temples were restored to them. The Tusculans retained the citizenship which they already had, and the charge of renewing the war was laid against a few ringleaders without injury to the community.

The Veliterni, Roman citizens of long standing, were savagely penalized for having rebelled so many times: their walls were pulled down, their senate deported, and its members ordered to live on the far side of the Tiber. Colonists were sent to occupy the senators’ land, and when they were enrolled Velitrae recovered its previous appearance of having a large population.

A new colony was dispatched to Antium too, on the understanding that the Antiates, if they wished, should be allowed to be enrolled as colonists themselves. The Tiburtines and Praenestini had their land confiscated, not only because of the fresh charge of rebellion which they incurred along with the other Latins, but because they had once joined forces with the Gauls, a race of savages, out of disgust with Roman rule.

The rest of the Latin peoples were deprived of their rights to intermarry and trade with each other and to hold councils amongst themselves.

The Campanians were granted citizenship without the vote as a tribute to their knights who, had refused to revolt with the Latins. It was decided to grant the people of Cumae and Suessula the same rights and terms as those enjoyed by Capua. Some of the ships from Antium were laid up in the dockyards at Rome, while the rest were burnt, and it was decided to use their prows or beaks to decorate a platform set up in the Forum; this sacred place was named the Rostra, or The Beaks.

15. In the consulship of Gaius Sulpicius Longus and Publius Aelius Paetus a general peace was maintained, thanks to the good will which the Romans had gained from their acts of generosity no less than to their power . . .


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