War with the Volscians. Sextus Tarquinius, feigning to be a deserter, presents himself at Gabii.
Nor, although the king was unjust in peace, was he yet a crooked leader of war ; moreover he could equal better kings in this art, except that his degeneracy in other respects would also eclipse that of the more decorous. He first stirred a war with the Volsci (which would last) for more than two-hundred years after his own age, and he took Suessa Pometia from them by force. There once he had made forty talents of silver by selling the spoils piecemeal, he conceived in his mind for the temple of Jupiter such grandeur, which would be worthy of the king of the gods and men, of the Roman imperium, and even of the majesty of that very place ; he set aside the captive money for the edifice of that temple.
Thereafter he engaged in a war more tedious than his hope, in which he rose by force against Gabii, a neighbouring city, to no profit. When hope of blockading the city had been taken away from him as he besieged it, he finally advanced not so much by Roman skill as by fraud and deception. For when he pretended as if the war were set aside and that he was zealous for the foundations of the temple laid and other urban works, his son Sextus, who was the least of three, fled over to Gabii, according to plan, complaining bitterly about his father’s cruelty against him ; that now he had turned his pride from those of others to his own and that he wearied also the the large number of his children, such that what solitude he had made in the senate-house, he made also in his home, so that he would not leave behind either offspring nor an heir to the throne. That indeed amidst the spears and swords of his father, although he had slipped out, he believed nowhere safe for him except among the enemies of L. Tarquinius. For, let them not be mistaken, that war which he pretended had been set aside, when provided the opportunity, he intended to attack them off their guard. But if there was no place among them for supplicants, he would travel through all Latium, and from there he would seek the Volsci and the Aequi and the Hernici, until he got through to them, who would know (how) to protect children from the cruel and unusual punishments of a father. Perhaps he even might even find something of ardour for war and arms against the most arrogant king and most ferocious people. When, if they paid him no attention, he seemed about to depart onward, incensed with rage, he was kindly welcomed by the Gabinians : they forbid him to be amazed if, as with his citizens, as with his allies, he was at last such toward his children ; he would, in the end, show no mercy to himself if all else failed him. The advent1 of Sextus was, in truth, pleasing to them, and they soon believed it would be such that, by his aid, the war would be transferred from the gates of Gabii under the Roman fortifications.
1. That’s for you, Stan.