Cautionary Chronicle#2:What you can learn from Camillus’ example IV

More on Camillus’ life and doings…. This section – right in the first few paragraphs – is quite important in understanding not only his character but that of his people.

~~The Falerians, relying on the great strength of  their city at all points, made so light of the siege that, with the exception of the defenders of the walls, the rest went up and down the city in their garb of peace. The boys went to school as usual, and were brought by their teacher along the walls outside to walk about and get their exercise.

For the Falerians, like the Greeks, employed one teacher in common, wishing their boys, from the very start, to herd with one another and grow up together. This teacher, then, wishing to betray Falerii by means of its boys, led them out every day beyond the city walls, at first only a little way, and then brought them back inside when they had taken their exercise. Presently he led them, little by little, farther and farther out, accustomed them to feel confident that there was no danger at all, and finally pushed in among the Roman outposts with his whole company, handed them over to the enemy, and demanded to be led to Camillus.

 So led, and in that presence, he said he was a boys’ school-teacher, but chose rather to win the general’s favour than to fulfil the duties of his office, and so had come bringing to him the city in the persons of its boys. It seemed to Camillus, on hearing him, that the man had done a monstrous deed, and turning to the bystanders he said: “War is indeed a grievous thing, and is waged with much injustice and violence; 4 but even war has certain laws which good and brave men will respect, and we must not so hotly pursue victory as not to flee the favours of base and impious doers. The great general will wage war relying on his own native valour, not on the baseness of other men.” Then he ordered his attendants to tear the man’s clothing from him, tie his arms behind his back, and put rods and scourges in the hands of the boys, that they might chastise the traitor and drive back into the city.

The Falerians had just become aware of the teacher’s treachery, and the whole city, as was natural, was filled with lamentation over a calamity so great. Men and women alike rushed distractedly to the walls and gates, when lo! there came the boys, bringing their teacher back stripped, bound, and maltreated, while they called Camillus their saviour, their father, and their god.

On this wise not only the parents of the boys, but the rest of the citizens as well, when they beheld the spectacle, were seized with admiration and longing for the righteousness of Camillus. In haste they held an assembly and sent envoys to him, entrusting him with their lives and fortunes. These envoys Camillus sent to Rome. 

Standing in the Senate, they declared that the Romans, by esteeming righteousness above victory, had taught them to love defeat above freedom; not so much because they thought themselves inferior in strength, as because they confessed themselves vanquished in virtue. On the Senate’s remanding to Camillus the decision and disposition of the matter, he took a sum of money from the Falerians, established friendship with all the Faliscans, and withdrew.

But the soldiers thought to have had the sacking of Falerii, and when they came back to Rome empty-handed, they denounced Camillus to the rest of the citizens as a hater of the common people, and as begrudging to the poor the enjoyment of their rightful booty. .

To be continued….


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