In that year, because the term of the truce with the Veientian nation was expired, restitution began to be demanded through ambassadors and heralds, who on coming to the frontiers were met by an embassy from the Veientians.
They requested that they would not proceed to Veii, until [p. 317]
they should first have access to the Roman senate. They obtained from the senate, that, because the Veientians were distressed by intestine dissension, restitution would not be demanded from them; so far were they from seeking, in the troubles of others, an opportunity for advancing their own interest.
In the Volscian territory also a disaster was sustained in the loss of the garrison at Verrugo; where so much depended on time, that when the soldiers who were besieged there, and were calling for succour, might have been relieved, if expedition had been used, the army sent to their aid only came in time to surprise the enemy, who were straggling in quest of plunder, just after their putting [the garrison] to the sword.
The cause of the dilatoriness was less referrible to the tribunes than to the senate, who, because word was brought that they were holding out with the most vigorous resistance, did not duly reflect that there is a limit to human strength, which no bravery can exceed.
These very gallant soldiers, however, were not without revenge, both before and after their death.
In the following year, Publius and Cneius Cornelius Cossus, Numerius Fabius Ambustus, and Lucius Valerius Potitus, being military tribunes with consular power, the Veientian war was commenced on account of an insolent answer of the Veientian senate, who, when the ambassadors demanded restitution, ordered them to be told, that if
they did not speedily quit the city and the territories, they should give them what Lars Tolumnius had given them.
The senate, indignant at this, decreed that the military tribunes should, on as early a day as possible, propose to the people the proclaiming war against the Veientians. When this was first made public, the young men expressed their dissatisfaction.
" That the war with the Volscians was not yet over; that a little time ago two garrisons were utterly destroyed, and that [one of the forts] was with great risk retained.
That there was not a year in which they had not to fight in the field: and, as if they were dissatisfied at the insufficiency of these toils, a new war was now set on foot with a neighbouring and most powerful nation, who were likely to rouse all Etruria.
These discontents, first discussed among themselves, were further aggravated by the plebeian tribunes.
These constantly affirm that the war of the greatest moment was that between the patricians and commons. That the latter [p. 318]
was designedly harassed by military service, and exposed to be butchered by the enemy; that they were kept at a distance from the enemy, and as it were banished, lest during the enjoyment of rest at home, mindful of liberty and of establishing colonies, they may form plans for obtaining some of the public land, or for giving their suffrages freely;
and taking hold of the veterans, they recounted the campaigns of each, and their wounds and scars, frequently asking what sound spot was there on their body for the reception of new wounds? what blood had they remaining which could be shed for the commonwealth?
When by discussing these subjects in private conversations, and also in public harangues, they produced in the people an aversion to undertaking a war, the time for proposing the law was adjourned; which would obviously have been rejected, if it had been subjected to the feeling of discontent then prevailing.