1 For the year following the capture of Antium, Titus Aemilius and Quinctius Fabius were made consuls. This was the Fabius who was the sole survivor of the extinction of his house at the Cremera. Aemilius had already in his former consulship advocated the grant of land to the plebeians. As he was now consul for the second time, the agrarian party entertained hopes that the Law would be carried out; the tribunes took the matter up in the firm expectation that after so many attempts they would gain their cause now that one consul, at all events, was supporting them; the consul’s views on the question remained unchanged. Those in occupation of the landthe majority of the patricianscomplained that the head of the State was adopting the methods of the tribunes and making himself popular by giving away other people’s property, and in this way they shifted all the odium from the tribunes on to the consul. There was every prospect of a serious contest, had not Fabius smoothed matters by a suggestion acceptable to both sides, namely, that as there was a considerable quantity of land which had been taken from the Volscians the previous year, under the auspicious generalship of T. Quinctius, a colony might be settled at Antium, which, as a seaport town, and at no great distance from Rome, was a suitable city for the purpose. This would allow the plebeians to enter on public land without any injustice to those in occupation, and so harmony would be restored to the State. This suggestion was adopted. He appointed as the three commissioners for the distribution of the land, T. Quinctius, A. Verginius, and P. Furius. Those who wished to receive a grant were ordered to give in their names. As usual, abundance produced disgust, and so few gave in their names that the number was made up by the addition of Volscians as colonists. The rest of the people preferred to ask for land at Rome rather than accept it elsewhere. The Aequi sought for peace from Q. Fabius, who had marched against them, but they broke it by a sudden incursion into Latin territory.
In the following year, Q. Serviliusfor he was consul with Sp. Postumiuswas sent against the Aequi, and fixed his entrenched camp on Latin territory. His army was attacked by an epidemic and compelled to remain inactive. The war was protracted into the third year, when Quinctius Fabius and T. Quinctius were the consuls. As Fabius after his victory had granted peace to the Aequi, they were by special edict assigned to him as his sphere of operation. He set out in the firm belief that the renown of his name would dispose them to peace; accordingly he sent envoys to their national council who were instructed to carry a message from Q. Fabius the consul to the effect that as he had brought peace from the Aequi to Rome, so now he was bringing war from Rome to the Aequi, with the same right hand, now armed, which he had formerly given to them as a pledge of peace. The gods were now the witnesses and would soon be the avengers of those through whose perfidy and perjury this had come about. In any case, however, he would rather that the Aequi should repent of their own accord than suffer at the hands of an enemy; if they did repent they could safely throw themselves on the clemency they had already experienced, but if they found pleasure in perjuring themselves, they would be warring more against the angered gods than against earthly foes.
These words, however, had so little effect that the envoys barely escaped maltreatment, and an army was despatched to Mount Algidus against the Romans. On this being reported at Rome, feelings of indignation rather than apprehension of danger hurried the other consul out of the City. So two armies under the command of both consuls advanced against the enemy in battle formation, to bring about an immediate engagement. But, as it happened, not much daylight remained, and a soldier called out from the enemies’ outposts: “This, Romans, is making a display of war, not waging it. You form your line when night is at hand; we need more daylight for the coming battle. When tomorrow’s sun is rising, get into line again. There will be an ample opportunity of fighting, do not fear! “Smarting under these taunts the soldiers were marched back into camp, to wait for the next day. They thought the coming night a long one, as it delayed the contest; after returning to camp they refreshed themselves with food and sleep. When the next day dawned the Roman line was formed some time before that of the enemy. At length the Aequi advanced. The fighting was fierce on both sides; the Romans fought in an angry and bitter temper; the Aequi, conscious of the danger in which their misdoing had involved them, and hopeless of ever being trusted in the future, were compelled to make a desperate and final effort. They did not, however, hold their ground against the Roman army, but were defeated and forced to retire within their frontiers. The spirit of the rank and file of the army was unbroken and not a whit more inclined to peace. They censured their generals because they staked all on one pitched battle, a mode of fighting in which the Romans excelled, whereas the Aequi, they said, were better at destructive forays and raids; numerous bands acting in all directions would be more successful than if massed in one great army.
Accordingly, leaving a detachment to guard the camp, they sallied forth, and made such devastating forays in the Roman territory that the terror they caused extended even to the City. The alarm was all the greater because such proceedings were quite unexpected. For nothing was less to be feared than that an enemy who had been defeated and almost surrounded in his camp should think of predatory incursions, whilst the panic-stricken country people, pouring in at the gates and exaggerating everything in their wild alarm, exclaimed that they were not mere raids or small bodies of plunderers, entire armies of the enemy were near, preparing to swoop down on the City in force. Those who were nearest carried what they heard to others, and the vague rumours became still more exaggerated and false. The running and clamour of men shouting “To arms!” created nearly as great a panic as though the City was actually taken. Fortunately the consul Quinctius had returned to Rome from Algidus. This relieved their fears, and after allaying the excitement and rebuking them for being afraid of a defeated enemy, he stationed troops to guard the gates. The senate was then convened, and on their authority he proclaimed a suspension of all business; after which he set out to protect the frontier, leaving Q. Servilius as prefect of the City. He did not, however, find the enemy. The other consul achieved a brilliant success. He ascertained by what routes the parties of the enemy would come, attacked each while laden with plunder and therefore hampered in their movements, and made their plundering expeditions fatal to them. Few of the enemy escaped, all the plunder was recovered. The consul’s return put an end to the suspension of business, which lasted four days. Then the census was made and the “lustrum” closed by Quinctius. The numbers of the census are stated to have been one hundred and four thousand seven hundred and fourteen, exclusive of widows and orphans. Nothing further of any importance occurred amongst the Aequi. They withdrew into their towns and looked on passively at the rifling and burning of their homesteads. After repeatedly marching through the length and breadth of the enemies’ territory and carrying destruction everywhere, the consul returned to Rome with immense glory and immense spoil.
The next consuls were A. Postumius Albus and Sp. Furius Fusus. Some writers call the Furii, Fusii. I mention this in case any one should suppose that the different names denote different people. It was pretty certain that one of the consuls would continue the war with the Aequi. They sent, accordingly, to the Volscians of Ecetra for assistance. Such was the rivalry between them as to which should show the most inveterate enmity to Rome, that the assistance was readily granted, and preparations for war were carried on with the utmost energy. The Hernici became aware of what was going on and warned the Romans that Ecetra had revolted to the Aequi. The colonists of Antium were also suspected, because on the capture of that town a large number of the inhabitants had taken refuge with the Aequi, and they were the most efficient soldiers throughout the war. When the Aequi were driven into their walled towns, this body was broken up and returned to Antium. There they found the colonists already disaffected, and they succeeded in completely alienating them from Rome. Before matters were ripe, information was laid before the senate that a revolt was in preparation, and the consuls were instructed to summon the chiefs of the colony to Rome and question them as to what was going on. They came without any hesitation, but after being introduced by the consuls to the senate, they gave such unsatisfactory replies that heavier suspicion attached to them on their departure than on their arrival. War was certain. Sp. Furius, the consul to whom the conduct of the war had been assigned, marched against the Aequi and found them committing depredations in the territory of the Hernici. Ignorant of their strength, because they were nowhere all in view at once, he rashly joined battle with inferior forces. At the first onset he was defeated, and retired into his camp, but he was not out of danger there. For that night and the next day the camp was surrounded and attacked with such vigour that not even a messenger could be despatched to Rome. The news of the unsuccessful action and the investment of the consul and his army was brought by the Hernici, and created such an alarm in the senate that they passed a decree in a form which has never been used except under extreme emergencies They charged Postumius to “see that the commonwealth suffered no hurt.” It was thought best that the consul himself should remain in Rome to enrol all who could bear arms, whilst T. Quinctius was sent as his representative to relieve the camp with an army furnished by the allies. This force was to be made up of the Latins and the Hernici, whilst the colony at Antium was to supply “subitary” troopsa designation then applied to hastily raised auxiliary troops.
Numerous maneuvers and skirmishes took place during these days, because the enemy with his superior numbers was able to attack the Romans from many points and so wear out their strength, as they were not able to meet them everywhere. Whilst one part of their army attacked the camp, another was sent to devastate the Roman territory, and, if a favourable opportunity arose, to make an attempt on the City itself. L. Valerius was left to guard the City, the consul Postumius was sent to repel the raids on the frontier. No precaution was omitted, no exertion spared; detachments were posted in the City, bodies of troops before the gates, veterans manned the walls, and as a necessary measure in a time of such disturbance, a cessation of public business was ordered for some days. In the camp, meanwhile, the consul Furius, after remaining inactive during the first days of the siege, made a sortie from the “decuman” gate and surprised the enemy, and though he could have pursued him, he refrained from doing so, fearing lest the camp might be attacked from the other side. Furius, a staff officer and brother of the consul, was carried too far in the charge, and did not notice, in the excitement of the pursuit, that his own men were returning and that the enemy were coming upon him from behind. Finding himself cut off, after many fruitless attempts to cut his way back to camp, he fell fighting desperately. The consul, hearing that his brother was surrounded, returned to the fight, and whilst he plunged into the thick of the fray was wounded, and with difficulty rescued by those round him. This incident damped the courage of his own men and raised that of the enemy, who were so inspirited by the death of a staff officer and the wound of the consul that the Romans, who had been driven back to their camp and again besieged, were no longer a match for them either in spirits or fighting strength. Their utmost efforts failed to keep the enemy in check, and they would have been in extreme danger had not T. Quinctius come to their assistance with foreign troops, an army composed of Latin and Hernican contingents. As the Aequi were directing their whole attention to the Roman camp and exultingly displaying the staff officer’s head he attacked them in rear, whilst at a signal given by him a sortie was made simultaneously from the camp and a large body of the enemy were surrounded.
Amongst the Aequi who were in the Roman territory there was less loss in killed and wounded, but they were more effectually scattered in flight. Whilst they were dispersed over the country with their plunder, Postumius attacked them at various points where he had posted detachments. Their army was thus broken up into scattered bodies of fugitives, and in their flight they fell in with Quinctius, returning from his victory, with the wounded consul. The consul’s army fought a brilliant action and avenged the wounds of the consuls and the slaughter of the staff officer and his cohorts. During those days great losses were inflicted and sustained by both sides. In a matter of such antiquity it is difficult to make any trustworthy statement as to the exact number of those who fought or those who fell. Valerius of Antium, however, ventures to give definite totals. He puts the Romans who fell in Hernican territory at 5800, and the Antiates who were killed by A. Postumius whilst raiding the Roman territory at 2400. The rest who fell in with Quinctius whilst carrying off their plunder got off with nothing like so small a loss; he gives as the exact number of their killed, 4230. On the return to Rome, the order for the cessation of all public business was revoked. The sky seemed to be all on fire, and other portents were either actually seen, or people in their fright imagined that they saw them. To avert these alarming omens, public intercessions were ordered for three days, during which all the temples were filled with crowds of men and women imploring the protection of the gods. After this the Latin and Hernican cohorts received the thanks of the senate for their services and were dismissed to their homes. The thousand soldiers from Antium who had come after the battle, too late to help, were sent back almost with ignominy.
Then the elections were held, and L. Aebutius and P. Servilius were chosen as consuls; they entered upon office on August 1, which was then the commencement of the consular year. The season was a trying one, and that year happened to be a pestilential one both for the City and the rural districts, for the flocks and herds quite as much as for human beings. The violence of the epidemic was aggravated by the crowding into the City of the country people and their cattle through fear of raids. This promiscuous collection of animals of all kinds became offensive to the citizens, through the unaccustomed smell, and the country people, crowded as they were into confined dwellings, were distressed by the oppressive heat which made it impossible to sleep. Their being brought into contact with each other in ordinary intercourse helped to spread the disease. Whilst they were hardly able to bear up under the pressure of this calamity, envoys from the Hernici announced that the Aequi and Volscians had united their forces, had entrenched their camp within their territory, and were ravaging their frontier with an immense army. The allies of Rome not only saw in the thinly-attended senate an indication of the widespread suffering caused by the epidemic, but they had also to carry back the melancholy reply that the Hernici must, in conjunction with the Latins, undertake their own defence. Through a sudden visitation of the angry gods, the City of Rome was being ravaged by pestilence; but if any respite from the evil should come, then she would send succour to her allies as she had done the year before and on all previous occasions. The allies departed, carrying home in answer to the gloomy tidings they had brought a still more gloomy response, for they had in their own strength to sustain a war which they had hardly been equal to when supported by the power of Rome. The enemy no longer confined himself to the country of the Hernici, he went on to destroy the fields of Rome, which were already lying waste without having suffered the ravages of war. He met no one, not even an unarmed peasant, and after over running the country, abandoned as it was by its defenders and even devoid of all cultivation, he reached the third milestone from Rome on the Gabian road. Aebutius, the consul, was dead, his colleague Servilius was still breathing, with little hope of recovery, most of the leading men were down, the majority of the senators, nearly all the men of military age, so that not only was their strength unequal to an expeditionary force such as the position of affairs required, but it hardly allowed of their mounting guard for home defence. The duty of sentinel was discharged in person by those of the senators whose age and health allowed them to do so; the aediles of the plebs were responsible for their inspection. On these magistrates had devolved the consular authority and the supreme control of affairs.
The helpless commonwealth, deprived of its head and all its strength, was saved by its guardian deities and the fortune of the City, who made the Volscians and Aequi think more of plunder than of their enemy. For they had no hope of even approaching the walls of Rome, still less of effecting its capture. The distant view of its houses and its hills, so far from alluring them repelled them. Everywhere throughout their camp angry remonstrances arose: “Why were they idly wasting their time in a waste and deserted land amid plague-stricken beasts and men while they could find places free from infection in the territory of Tusculum with its abundant wealth?” They hastily plucked up their standards, and by cross-marches through the fields of Labici they reached the hills of Tusculum. All the violence and storm of war was now turned in this direction. Meantime the Hernici and Latins joined their forces and proceeded to Rome. They were actuated by a feeling not only of pity but also of the disgrace they would incur if they had offered no opposition to their common foe while he was advancing to attack Rome, or had brought no succour to those who were their allies. Not finding the enemy there, they followed up their traces from the information supplied them, and met them as they were descending from the hills of Tusculum into the valley of Alba. Here a very one-sided action was fought, and their fidelity to their allies met with little success for the time. The mortality in Rome through the epidemic was not less than that of the allies through the sword. The surviving consul died; amongst other illustrious victims were M. Valerius and T. Verginius Rutilus, the augurs, and Ser. Sulpicius, the “Curio Maximus.” Amongst the common people the violence of the epidemic made great ravage. The senate, deprived of all human aid, bade the people betake themselves to prayers; they with their wives and children were ordered to go as suppliants and entreat the gods to be gracious. Summoned by public authority to do what each man’s misery was constraining him to do, they crowded all the temples. Prostrate matrons, sweeping with their dishevelled hair the temple floors, were everywhere imploring pardon from offended heaven, and entreating that an end might be put to the pestilence.
Whether it was that the gods graciously answered prayer or that the unhealthy season had passed, people gradually threw off the influence of the epidemic and the public health became more satisfactory. Attention was once more turned to affairs of State, and after one or two interregna had expired, P. Valerius Publicola, who had been interrex for two days, conducted the election of L. Lucretius Tricipitinus and T. Veturius Geminusor Vetusiusas consuls. They entered office on August 11, and the State was now strong enough not only to defend its frontiers, but to take the offensive. Consequently, when the Hernici announced that the enemy had crossed their frontiers, help was promptly sent. Two consular armies were enrolled. Veturius was sent to act against the Volsci, Tricipitinus had to protect the country of the allies from predatory incursions, and did not advance beyond the Hernican frontier. In the first battle Veturius defeated and routed the enemy. Whilst Lucretius lay encamped amongst the Hernici, a body of plunderers evaded him by marching over the mountains of Praeneste, and descending into the plains devastated the fields of the Praenestines and Gabians, and then turned off to the hills above Tusculum. Great alarm was felt in Rome, more from the surprising rapidity of the movement than from insufficiency of strength to repel any attack. Quintus Fabius was prefect of the City. By arming the younger men and manning the defences, he restored quiet and security everywhere. The enemy did not venture to attack the City, but returned by a circuitous route with the plunder they had secured from the neighbourhood. The greater their distance from the City the more carelessly they marched, and in this state they fell in with the consul Lucretius, who had reconnoitred the route they were taking and was in battle formation, eager to engage. As they were on the alert and ready for the enemy, the Romans, though considerably fewer in numbers, routed and scattered the vast host, whom the unexpected attack had thrown into confusion, drove them into the deep valleys and prevented their escape. The Volscian nation was almost wiped out there. I find in some of the annals that 13,470 men fell in the battle and the pursuit, and 1750 were taken prisoners, whilst twenty-seven military standards were captured. Although there may be some exaggeration, there certainly was a great slaughter. The consul, after securing enormous booty, returned victorious to his camp. The two consuls then united their camps; the Volscians and Aequi also concentrated their shattered forces. A third battle took place that year; again fortune gave the victory to the Romans, the enemy were routed and their camp taken.
Matters at home drifted back to their old state; the successes in the war forthwith evoked disorders in the City. Gaius Terentilius Harsa was a tribune of the plebs that year. Thinking that the absence of the consuls afforded a good opportunity for tribunitian agitation, he spent several days in haranguing the plebeians on the overbearing arrogance of the patricians. In particular he inveighed against the authority of the consuls as excessive and intolerable in a free commonwealth, for whilst in name it was less invidious, in reality it was almost more harsh and oppressive than that of the kings had been, for now, he said, they had two masters instead of one, with uncontrolled, unlimited powers, who, with nothing to curb their licence, directed all the threats and penalties of the laws against the plebeians. To prevent this unfettered tyranny from lasting for ever, he said he would propose an enactment that a commission of five should be appointed to draw up in writing the laws which regulated the power of the consuls. Whatever jurisdiction over themselves the people gave the consul, that and that only was he to exercise; he was not to regard his own licence and caprice as law. When this measure was promulgated, the patricians were apprehensive lest in the absence of the consuls they might have to accept the yoke. A meeting of the senate was convened by Q. Fabius, the prefect of the City. He made such a violent attack upon the proposed law and its author, that the threats and intimidation could not have been greater even if the two consuls had been standing by the tribune, threatening his life. He accused him of plotting treason, of seizing a favourable moment for compassing the ruin of the commonwealth. “Had the gods,” he continued, “given us a tribune like him last year, during the pestilence and the war, nothing could have stopped him. After the death of the two consuls, whilst the State was lying prostrate, he would have passed laws, amid the universal confusion, to deprive the commonwealth of the power of the consuls, he would have led the Volscians and Aequi in an attack on the City. Why, surely it is open to him to impeach the consuls for whatever tyranny or cruelty they may have been guilty of towards any citizen, to bring them to trial before those very judges, one of whom had been their victim. His action was makingnot the authority of the consuls, butthe power of the tribunes odious and intolerable, and after being exercised peaceably and in harmony with the patricians, that power was now reverting to its old evil practices.” As to Terentilius, he would not dissuade him from continuing as he began. “As to you,” said Fabius, “the other tribunes, we beg you to reflect that in the first instance your power was conferred upon you for the assistance of individual citizens, not for the ruin of all; you have been elected as the tribunes of the plebs, not as the enemies of the patricians. To us it is distressing, to you it is a source of odium that the commonwealth should be thus attacked while it is without its head. You will not impair your rights, but you will lessen the odium felt against you if you arrange with your colleague to have the whole matter adjourned till the arrival of the consuls. Even the Aequi and Volscians, after the consuls had been carried off by the epidemic last year, did not harass us with a cruel and ruthless war.” The tribunes came to an understanding with Terentilius and the proceedings were ostensibly adjourned, but, as a matter of fact, abandoned. The consuls were immediately summoned home.
Lucretius returned with an immense amount of booty, and with a still more brilliant reputation. This prestige he enhanced on his arrival by laying out all the booty in the Campus Martius for three days, that each person might recognise and take away his own property. The rest, for which no owners appeared, was sold. By universal consent a triumph was due to the consul, but the matter was delayed through the action of the tribune, who was pressing his measure. The consul regarded this as the more important question. For some days the subject was discussed both in the senate and the popular assembly. At last the tribune yielded to the supreme authority of the consul and dropped his measure. Then the consul and his army received the honour they deserved; at the head of his victorious legions he celebrated his triumph over the Volscians and Aequi. The other consul was allowed to enter the City without his troops and enjoy an ovation. The following year the new consuls, P. Volumnius and Ser. Sulpicius, were confronted by the proposed law of Terentilius, which was now brought forward by the whole college of tribunes. During the year, the sky seemed to be on fire; there was a great earthquake; an ox was believed to have spokenthe year before this rumour found no credence. Amongst other portents it rained flesh, and an enormous number of birds are said to have seized it while they were flying about; what fell to the ground lay about for several days without giving out any bad smell. The Sibylline Books were consulted by the “duumviri,” and a prediction was found of dangers which would result from a gathering of aliens, attempts on the highest points of the City and consequent bloodshed. Amongst other notices, there was a solemn warning to abstain from all seditious agitations. The tribunes alleged that this was done to obstruct the passing of the Law, and a desperate conflict seemed imminent.
As though to show how events revolve in the same cycle year by year, the Hernici reported that the Volscians and Aequi, in spite of their exhaustion, were equipping fresh armies. Antium was the centre of the movement; the colonists of Antium were holding public meetings in Ecetra, the capital, and the main strength of the war. On this information being laid before the senate, orders were given for a levy. The consuls were instructed to divide the operations between them; the Volscians were to be the province of the one, the Aequi of the other. The tribunes, even in face of the consuls, filled the Forum with their shouts declaring that the story of a Volscian war was a prearranged comedy, the Hernici had been prepared beforehand for the part they were to play; the liberties of the Roman were not being repressed by straightforward opposition, but were being cunningly fooled away. It was impossible to persuade them that the Volscians and Aequi, after being almost exterminated, could themselves commence hostilities; a new enemy, therefore, was being sought for; a colony which had been a loyal neighbour was being covered with infamy. It was against the unoffending people of Antium that war was declared; it was against the Roman plebs that war was really being waged. After loading them with arms they would drive them in hot haste out of the City, and wreak their vengeance on the tribunes by sentencing their fellow-citizens to banishment. By this meansthey might be quite certainthe Law would be defeated; unless, while the question was still undecided, and they were still at home, still unenrolled, they took steps to prevent their being ousted from their occupation of the City, and forced under the yoke of servitude. If they showed courage, help would not be wanting, the tribunes were unanimous. There was no cause for alarm, no danger from abroad. The gods had taken care, the previous year, that their liberties should be safely protected.
Thus far the tribunes. The consuls at the other end of the Forum, however, placed their chairs in full view of the tribunes and proceeded with the levy. The tribunes ran to the spot, carrying the Assembly with them. A few were cited, apparently as an experiment, and a tumult arose at once. As soon as any one was seized by the consuls’ orders, a tribune ordered him to be released. None of them confined himself to his legal rights; trusting to their strength they were bent upon getting what they set their minds upon by main force. The methods of the tribunes in preventing the enrolment were followed by the patricians in obstructing the Law, which was brought forward every day that the Assembly met. The trouble began when the tribunes had ordered the people to proceed to votethe patricians refused to withdraw. The older members of the order were generally absent from proceedings which were certain not to be controlled by reason, but given over to recklessness and licence; the consuls, too, for the most part kept away, lest in the general disorder the dignity of their office might be exposed to insult. Caeso was a member of the Quinctian house, and his noble descent and great bodily strength and stature made him a daring and intrepid young man. To these gifts of the gods he added brilliant military qualities and eloquence as a public speaker, so that no one in the State was held to surpass him either in speech or action. When he took his stand in the middle of a group of patricians, conspicuous amongst them all, carrying as it were in his voice and personal strength all dictatorships and consulships combined, he was the one to withstand the attacks of the tribunes and the storms of popular indignation. Under his leadership the tribunes were often driven from the Forum, the plebeians routed and chased away, anybody who stood in his way went off stripped and beaten. It became quite clear that if this sort of thing were allowed to go on, the Law would be defeated. When the other tribunes were now almost in despair, Aulus Verginius, one of the college, impeached Caeso on a capital charge. This procedure inflamed more than it intimidated his violent temper; he opposed the Law and harassed the plebeians more fiercely than ever, and declared regular war against the tribunes. His accuser allowed him to rush to his ruin and fan the flame of popular hatred, and so supply fresh material for the charges to be brought against him. Meantime he continued to press the Law, not so much in the hope of carrying it as in order to provoke Caeso to greater recklessness. Many wild speeches and exploits of the younger patricians were fastened on Caeso to strengthen the suspicions against him. Still the opposition to the Law was kept up. A. Verginius frequently said to the plebeians, “Are you now aware, Quirites, that you cannot have the Law which you desire, and Caeso as a citizen, together? Yet, why do I talk of the Law? He is a foe to liberty, he surpasses all the Tarquins in tyranny. Wait till you see the man who now, in private station, acts the king in audacity and violencewait till you see him made consul, or dictator.” His words were endorsed by many who complained of having been beaten, and the tribune was urged to bring the matter to a decision.
The day of trial was now at hand, and it was evident that men generally believed that their liberty depended upon the condemnation of Caeso. At last, to his great indignation, he was constrained to approach individual members of the plebs; he was followed by his friends, who were amongst the foremost men of the State. Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, who had three times been consul, after recounting his own numerous distinctions and those of his family, asserted that neither in the Quinctian house nor in the Roman State did there exist another such example of personal merit and youthful courage. He had been the foremost soldier in his army; he had often fought under his own eyes. Sp. Furius said that Caeso had been sent by Quinctius Capitolinus to his assistance when in difficulties, and that no single person had done more to retrieve the fortunes of the day. L. Lucretius, the consul of the previous year, in the splendour of his newly-won glory, associated Caeso with his own claim to distinction, enumerated the actions in which he had taken part, recounted his brilliant exploits on the march and in the field, and did his utmost to persuade them to retain as their own fellow-citizen a young man furnished with every advantage that nature and fortune could give, who would be an immense power in any state of which he became a member, rather than drive him to an alien people. As to what had given such offencehis hot temper and audacitythese faults were being continually lessened; what was wanting in himprudencewas increasing day by day. As his faults were decaying and his virtues maturing, they ought to allow such a man to live out his years in the commonwealth. Among those who spoke for him was his father, L. Quinctius Cincinnatus. He did not go over all his merits again, for fear of aggravating the feeling against him, but he pleaded for indulgence to the errors of youth; he himself had never injured any one either by word or deed, and for his own sake he implored them to pardon his son. Some refused to listen to his prayers, lest they should incur the displeasure of their friends; others complained of the maltreatment they had received, and by their angry replies showed beforehand what their verdict would be.
Over and above the general exasperation, one charge in particular weighed heavily against him. M. Volscius Fictor, who had some years previously been tribune of the plebs, had come forward to give evidence that not long after the epidemic had visited the City, he had met some young men strolling in the Suburra. A quarrel broke out and his elder brother, still weak from illness, was knocked down by a blow from Caeso’s fist, and carried home in a critical condition, and afterwards died, he believed, in consequence of the blow. He had not been allowed by the consuls, during the years that had elapsed, to obtain legal redress for the outrage. Whilst Volscius was telling this story in a loud tone of voice, so much excitement was created that Caeso was very near losing his life at the hands of the people. Verginius ordered him to be arrested and taken to prison. The patricians met violence by violence. T. Quinctius called out that when the day of trial has been fixed for any one indicted on a capital charge and is near at hand, his personal liberty ought not to be interfered with before the case is heard and sentence given. The tribune replied that he was not going to inflict punishment upon a man not yet found guilty; but he should keep him in prison till the day of the trial, that the Roman people might be in a position to punish one who has taken a man’s life. The other tribunes were appealed to, and they saved their prerogative by a compromise; they forbade him to be cast into prison, and announced as their decision that the accused should appear in court, and if he failed to do so, he should forfeit a sum of money to the people. The question was, what sum would it be fair to fix? The matter was referred to the senate, the accused was detained in the Assembly whilst the senators were deliberating. They decided that he should give sureties, and each surety was bound in 3000 “ases” It was left to the tribunes to decide how many should be given; they fixed the number at ten. The prosecutor released the accused on that bail. Caeso was the first who gave securities on a state trial. After leaving the Forum, he went the following night into exile amongst the Tuscans. When the day for the trial came, it was pleaded in defence of his non-appearance that he had changed his domicile by going into exile. Verginius, nevertheless, went on with the proceedings, but his colleagues, to whom an appeal was made, dismissed the Assembly. The money was unmercifully extorted from the father, who had to sell all his property and live for some time like a banished man in an out-of-the-way hut on the other side of the Tiber.
This trial and the discussions on the Law kept the State employed; there was a respite from foreign troubles. The patricians were cowed by the banishment of Caeso, and the tribunes, having, as they thought, gained the victory, regarded the Law as practically carried. As far as the senior senators were concerned, they abandoned the control of public affairs, but the younger members of the order, mostly those who had been Caeso’s intimates, were more bitter than ever against the plebeians, and quite as aggressive. They made much more progress by conducting the attack in a methodical manner. The first time that the Law was brought forward after Caeso’s flight they were organised in readiness, and on the tribunes furnishing them with a pretext, by ordering them to withdraw, they attacked them with a huge army of clients in such a way that no single individual could carry home any special share of either glory or odium. The plebeians complained that for one Caeso thousands had sprung up. During the intervals when the tribunes were not agitating the Law, nothing could be more quiet or peaceable than these same men; they accosted the plebeians affably, entered into conversation with them, invited them to their houses, and when present in the Forum even allowed the tribunes to bring all other questions forward without interrupting them. They were never disagreeable to any one either in public or private, except when a discussion commenced on the Law; on all other occasions they were friendly with the people. Not only did the tribunes get through all their other business quietly, but they were even re-elected for the following year, without any offensive remark being made, still less any violence being offered. By gentle handling they gradually made the plebs tractable, and through these methods the Law was cleverly evaded throughout the year.
The new consuls, C. Claudius, the son of Appius, and P. Valerius Publicola, took over the State in a quieter condition than usual. The new year brought nothing new. Political interest centered in the fate of the Law. The more the younger senators ingratiated themselves with the plebeians, the fiercer became the opposition of the tribunes. They tried to arouse suspicion against them by alleging that a conspiracy had been formed; Caeso was in Rome, and plans were laid for the assassination of the tribunes and the wholesale massacre of the plebeians, and further that the senior senators had assigned to the younger members of the order the task of abolishing the tribunitian authority so that the political conditions might be the same as they were before the occupation of the Sacred Hill. War with the Volscians and Aequi had become now a regular thing of almost annual recurrence, and was looked forward to with apprehension. A fresh misfortune happened nearer home. The political refugees and a number of slaves, some 2500 in all, under the leadership of Appius Herdonius the Sabine, seized the Capitol and Citadel by night. Those who refused to join the conspirators were instantly massacred, others in the confusion rushed in wild terror down to the Forum; various shouts were heard: “To arms!” “The enemy is in the City.” The consuls were afraid either to arm the plebeians or to leave them without arms. Uncertain as to the nature of the trouble which had overtaken the City, whether it was caused by citizens or by foreigners, whether due to the embittered feelings of the plebs or to the treachery of slaves, they tried to allay the tumult, but their efforts only increased it; in their terrified and distracted state the population could not be controlled. Arms were, however, distributed, not indiscriminately, but only, as it was an unknown foe, to secure protection sufficient for all emergencies. The rest of the night they spent in posting men in all the convenient situations in the City, while their uncertainty as to the nature and numbers of the enemy kept them in anxious suspense. Daylight at length disclosed the enemy and their leader. Appius Herdonius was calling from the Capitol to the slaves to win their liberty, saying that he had espoused the cause of all the wretched in order to restore the exiles who had been wrongfully banished and remove the heavy yoke from the necks of the slaves. He would rather that this be done at the bidding of the Roman people, but if that were hopeless, he would run all risks and rouse the Volscians and Aequi.
The state of affairs became clearer to the senators and consuls. They were, however, apprehensive lest behind these openly declared aims there should be some design of the Veientines or Sabines, and whilst there was this large hostile force within the City the Etruscan and Sabine legions should appear, and then the Volscians and Aequi, their standing foes, should come, not into their territory to ravage, but into the City itself, already partly captured. Many and various were their fears. What they most dreaded was a rising of the slaves, when every man would have an enemy in his own house, whom it would be alike unsafe to trust and not to trust, since by withdrawing confidence he might be made a more determined enemy. Such threatening and overwhelming dangers could only be surmounted by unity and concord, and no fears were felt as to the tribunes or the plebs. That evil was mitigated, for as it only broke out when there was a respite from other evils, it was believed to have subsided now in the dread of foreign aggression. Yet it, more than almost anything else, helped to further depress the fortunes of the sinking State. For such madness seized the tribunes that they maintained that it was not war but an empty phantom of war which had settled in the Capitol, in order to divert the thoughts of the people from the Law. Those friends, they said, and clients of the patricians would depart more silently than they had come if they found their noisy demonstration frustrated by the passing of the Law. They then summoned the people to lay aside their arms and form an Assembly for the purpose of carrying the Law. Meantime the consuls, more alarmed at the action of the tribunes than at the nocturnal enemy, convened a meeting of the senate.
When it was reported that arms were being laid aside and men were deserting their posts, P. Valerius left his colleague to keep the senate together and hurried to the tribunes at the templum. “What,” he asked, “is the meaning of this, tribunes? Are you going to overthrow the State under the leadership of Appius Herdonius? Has the man whose appeals failed to rouse a single slave been so successful as to corrupt you? Is it when the enemy is over our heads that you decide that men shall lay down their arms and discuss laws?” Then turning to the Assembly he said, “If, Quirites, you feel no concern for the City, no anxiety for yourselves, still show reverence for your gods who have been taken captive by an enemy! Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Queen Juno and Minerva, with other gods and goddesses, are being besieged; a camp of slaves holds the tutelary deities of your country in its power. Is this the appearance which you think a State in its senses ought to presenta large hostile force not only within the walls, but in the Citadel, above the Forum, above the Senate-house, whilst meantime the Assembly is being held in the Forum, the senate are in the Senate-house, and as though peace and quiet prevailed, a senator is addressing the House, whilst the Quirites in the Assembly are proceeding to vote? Would it not be more becoming for every man, patrician and plebeian alike, for the consuls and tribunes, for gods and men, to come, one and all, to the rescue with their arms, to run to the Capitol and restore liberty and calm to that most venerable abode of Jupiter Optimus Maximus? O, Father Romulus, grant to shine offspring that spirit in which thou didst once win back from these same Sabines the Citadel which had been captured with gold! Bid them take the road on which thou didst lead shine army. Behold, I, the consul, will be the first to follow thee and thy footsteps as far as mortal man can follow a god.” He ended his speech by saying that he was taking up arms, and he summoned all the Quirites to arms. If any one tried to obstruct, he should now ignore the limits set to his consular authority, the power of the tribunes, and the laws which made them inviolable, and whoever or wherever he might be, whether in the Capitol or the Forum, he should treat him as a public enemy. The tribunes had better order arms to be taken up against P. Valerius the consul, as they forbade them to be used against Appius Herdonius. He would dare to do in the case of the tribunes what the head of his family had dared to do in the case of the kings. There was every prospect of an appeal to force, and of the enemy enjoying the spectacle of a riot in Rome. However, the Law could not be voted upon, nor could the consul go to the Capitol, for night put an end to the threatened conflict. As night came on the tribunes retired, afraid of the consul’s arms. When the authors of the disturbance were out of the way, the senators went about amongst the plebeians, and mingling with different groups pointed out the seriousness of the crisis, and warned them to reflect into what a dangerous position they were bringing the State. It was not a contest between patricians and plebeians; patricians and plebeians alike, the stronghold of the City, the temples of the gods, the guardian deities of the State and of every home, were being surrendered to the enemy. While these steps were being taken to lay the spirit of discord in the Forum, the consuls had gone away to inspect the gates and walls, in case of any movement on the part of the Sabines or Veientines.
The same night messengers reached Tusculum with tidings of the capture of the Citadel, the seizure of the Capitol, and the generally disturbed state of the City. L. Mamilius was at that time Dictator of Tusculum. After hurriedly convening the senate and introducing the messengers, he strongly urged the senators not to wait until envoys arrived from Rome begging for help; the fact of the danger and the seriousness of the crisis, the gods who watched over alliances, and loyalty to treaties, all demanded instant action. Never again would the gods vouchsafe so favourable an opportunity for conferring an obligation on so powerful a State or one so close to their own doors. They decided that help should be sent, the men of military age were enrolled, arms were distributed. As they approached Rome in the early dawn, they presented in the distance the appearance of enemies; it seemed as though Aequi or Volscians were coming. When this groundless alarm was removed they were admitted into the City and marched in order into the Forum, where P. Valerius, who had left his colleague to direct the troops on guard at the gates, was forming his army for battle. It was his authority that had achieved this result; he declared that if, when the Capitol was recovered and the City pacified they would allow the covert dishonesty of the Law which the tribunes supported to be explained to them, he would not oppose the holding of a plebeian Assembly, for he was not unmindful of his ancestors or of the name he bore, which made the protection of the plebs, so to speak, a hereditary care. Following his leadership, amid the futile protests of the tribunes, they marched in order of battle up the Capitoline hill, the legion from Tusculum marching with them. The Romans and their allies were striving which should have the glory of recapturing the Citadel. Each of the commanders were encouraging his men. Then the enemy lost heart, their only confidence was in the strength of their position; whilst thus demoralised the Romans and allies advanced to the charge. They had already forced their way into the vestibule of the temple, when P. Valerius, who was in the front, cheering on his men, was killed. P. Volumnius, a man of consular rank, saw him fall. Directing his men to protect the body, he ran to the front and took the consul’s place. In the heat of their charge the soldiers were not aware of the loss they had sustained; they gained the victory before they knew that they were fighting without a general. Many of the exiles defiled the temple with their blood, many were taken prisoners, Herdonius was killed. So the Capitol was recovered. Punishment was inflicted on the prisoners according to their condition whether slave or freeman; a vote of thanks was accorded to the Tusculans; the Capitol was cleansed and solemnly purified It is stated that the plebeians threw quadrantes into the consul’s house that he might have a more splendid funeral.
No sooner were order and quiet restored than the tribunes began to press upon the senators the necessity of redeeming the promise made by Publius Valerius; they urged Claudius to free his colleague’s manes from the guilt of deception by allowing the Law to be proceeded with. The consul refused to allow it until he had secured the election of a colleague. The contest went on till the election was held. In the month of December, after the utmost exertions on the part of the patricians, L. Quinctius Cincinnatus, the father of Caeso, was elected consul, and at once took up his office. The plebeians were dismayed at the prospect of having as consul a man incensed against them, and powerful in the warm support of the senate, in his own personal merits, and in his three children, not one of whom was Caeso’s inferior in loftiness of mind, while they were his superiors in exhibiting prudence and moderation where necessary. When he entered on his magistracy he continually delivered harangues from the tribunal, in which he censured the senate as energetically as he put down the plebs. It was, he said, through the apathy of that order that the tribunes of the plebs, now perpetually in office, acted as kings in their speeches and accusations, as though they were living, not in the commonwealth of Rome, but in some wretched ill-regulated family. Courage, resolution, all that makes youth distinguished at home and in the battle-field, had been expelled and banished from Rome with his son Caeso. Loquacious agitators, sowers of discord, made tribunes for the second and third time in succession, were living by means of infamous practices in regal licentiousness. “Did that fellow,” he asked, “Aulus Verginius, because he did not happen to be in the Capitol, deserve less punishment than Appius Herdonius? Considerably more, by Jove, if any choose to form a true estimate of the matter. Herdonius, if he did nothing else, avowed himself an enemy and in a measure summoned you to take up arms; this man, by denying the existence of a war, deprived you of your arms, and exposed you defenceless to the mercy of your slaves and exiles. And did youwithout disrespect to C. Claudius and the dead P. Valerius, I would askdid you advance against the Capitol before you cleared these enemies out of the Forum? It is an outrage on gods and men, that when there were enemies in the Citadel, in the Capitol, and the leader of the slaves and exiles, after profaning everything, had taken up his quarters in the very shrine of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it should be at Tusculum, not at Rome, that arms were first taken up. It was doubtful whether the Citadel of Rome would be delivered by the Tusculan general, L. Mamilius, or by the consuls, P. Valerius and C. Claudius. We, who had not allowed the Latins to arm, even to defend themselves against invasion, would have been taken and destroyed, had not these very Latins taken up arms unbidden. This, tribunes, is what you call protecting the plebs, exposing it to be helplessly butchered by the enemy! If the meanest member of your order, which you have as it were severed from the rest of the people and made into a province, a State of your ownif such an one, I say, were to report to you that his house was beset by armed slaves, you would, I presume, think that you ought to render him assistance; was not Jupiter Optimus Maximus, when shut in by armed slaves and exiles, worthy to receive any human aid? Do these fellows demand that their persons shall be sacred and inviolable, when the very gods themselves are neither sacred nor inviolable in their eyes? But, steeped as you are in crimes against gods and men, you give out that you will carry your Law this year. Then, most assuredly, if you do carry it; the day when I was made consul will be a far worse day for the State than that on which P. Valerius perished. Now I give you notice, Quirites, the very first thing that my colleague and myself intend to do is to march the legions against the Volscians and Aequi. By some strange fatality, we find the gods more propitious when we are at war than when we are at peace. It is better to infer from what has occurred in the past than to learn by actual experience how great the danger from those States would have been had they known that the Capitol was in the hands of exiles.”
The consul’s speech produced an impression on the plebs; the patricians were encouraged and regarded the State as re-established. The other consul, who showed more courage in supporting than in proposing, was quite content for his colleague to take the first step in a matter of such importance but in carrying it out he claimed his full responsibility as consul. The tribunes laughed at what they considered idle words; and constantly asked, “By what method were the consuls going to take out an army, when no one would allow one to be levied?” “We do not,” said Quinctius, “require to make a levy. At the time when P. Valerius supplied the people with arms for the recovery of the Capitol, they all took the oath to muster at the consul’s orders, and not to disband without his orders. We, therefore, issue an order that all of you who took that oath appear under arms, tomorrow, at Lake Regillus.” Thereupon the tribunes wanted to release the people from their oath by raising a quibble. They argued that Quinctius was not consul when the oath was taken. But the neglect of the gods, which prevails in this age, had not yet appeared, nor did every man interpret oaths and laws in just the sense which suited him best; he preferred to shape his own conduct by their requirements. The tribunes, finding any attempt at obstruction hopeless, set themselves to delay the departure of the army. They were the more anxious to do this as a report had got abroad that the augurs had received instructions to repair to Lake Regillus and set apart with the usual augural formalities a spot where business could be transacted by a properly constituted Assembly. This would enable every measure which had been carried by the violent exercise of the tribunitian authority to be repealed by the regular Assembly of the Tribes. All would vote as the consuls wished, for the right of appeal did not extend beyond a mile from the City, and the tribunes themselves, if they went with the army, would be subject to the authority of the consuls. These rumours were alarming; but what filled them with the greatest alarm were the repeated assertions of Quinctius that he should not hold an election of consuls; the diseases of the State were such that none of the usual remedies could check them; the commonwealth needed a Dictator, in order that any one who took steps to disturb the existing constitution might learn that from a Dictator there lay no appeal.
The senate was in the Capitol. Thither the tribunes proceeded, accompanied by the plebeians in a great state of consternation. They loudly appealed for help, first to the consuls, then to the senators, but they did not shake the determination of the consul, until the tribunes had promised that they would bow to the authority of the senate. The consuls laid before the senate the demands of the plebs and their tribunes, and decrees were passed that the tribunes should not bring forward their Law during the year, nor should the consuls take the army out of the City. The senate also judged it to be against the interests of the State that a magistrate’s tenure of office should be prolonged, or that the tribunes should be re-elected. The consuls yielded to the authority of the senate, but the tribunes, against the protests of the consuls, were re-elected. On this, the senate also, to avoid giving any advantage to the plebs, reappointed Lucius Quinctius as consul. Nothing during the whole year roused the indignation of the consul more than this proceeding of theirs. “Can I,” he exclaimed, “be surprised, Conscript Fathers, if your authority has little weight with the plebs? You yourselves are weakening it. Because, forsooth, they have disregarded the senatorial decree forbidding a magistrate’s continuance in office, you yourselves wish it to be disregarded, that you may not be behind the populace in headstrong thoughtlessness, as though to possess more power in the State was to show more levity and lawlessness. It is undoubtedly a more idle and foolish thing to do away with one’s own resolutions and decrees than with those of others. Imitate, Conscript Fathers, the inconsiderate multitude; sin after the example of others, you who ought to be an example to others, rather than that others should act rightly after your example, as long as I do not imitate the tribunes or allow myself to be returned as consul in defiance of the resolution of the senate. To you, C. Claudius, I earnestly appeal, that you, too, will restrain the Roman people from this lawlessness. As to myself, rest assured that I will accept your action in the firm belief that you have not stood in the way of my advancement to honour, but that I have gathered greater glory by rejecting it, and have removed the odium which my continuance in office would have provoked.” Thereupon the two consuls issued a joint edict that no one should make L. Quinctius consul; if any one attempted it, they would not allow the vote.
The consuls elected were Q. Fabius Vibulanus, for the third time, and L. Cornelius Maluginensis. In that year the census was taken, and owing to the seizure of the Capitol and the death of the consul, the “lustrum” was closed on religious grounds. During their consulship matters became disturbed at the very beginning of the year. The tribunes began to instigate the plebs. The Latins and Hernici reported that war on an immense scale was commenced by the Volscians and Aequi, the Volscian legions were already at Antium, and there were grave fears of the colony itself revolting. With great difficulty the tribunes were induced to allow the war to take precedence of their Law. Then their respective spheres of operation were allotted to the consuls: Fabius was commissioned to take the legions to Antium; Cornelius was to protect Rome and prevent detachments of the enemy from coming on marauding expeditions, as was the custom with the Aequi. The Hernici and Latins were ordered to furnish troops, in accordance with the treaty; two-thirds of the army consisted of allies, the rest of Roman citizens. The allies came in on the appointed day, and the consul encamped outside the Capene gate. When the lustration of the army was completed, he marched to Antium and halted at a short distance from the city and from the enemies’ standing camp. As the army of the Aequi had not arrived, the Volscians did not venture on an engagement, and prepared to act on the defensive and protect their camp. The next day Fabius formed his troops round the enemies’ lines, not in one mixed army of allies and citizens, but each nation in a separate division, he himself being in the centre with the Roman legions. He gave orders to carefully observe his signals, that all might commence the action and retireshould the signal for retirement be soundedat the same moment. The cavalry were stationed behind their respective divisions. In this triple formation he assaulted three sides of the camp, and the Volscians, unable to meet the simultaneous attack, were dislodged from the breastworks. Getting inside their lines he drove the panic-struck crowd, who were all pressing in one direction, out of their camp. The cavalry, unable to surmount the breastworks, had so far been merely spectators of the fight, now they overtook the enemy and cut them down as they fled in disorder over the plain, and so enjoyed a share of the victory. There was a great slaughter both in the camp and in the pursuit, but a still greater amount of spoil, as the enemy had hardly been able to carry away even their arms. Their army would have been annihilated had not the fugitives found shelter in the forest.
Whilst these events were occurring at Antium, the Aequi sent forward some of their best troops and by a sudden night attack captured the citadel of Tusculum; the rest of the army they halted not far from the walls, in order to distract the enemy. Intelligence of this quickly reached Rome, and from Rome was carried to the camp before Antium, where it produced as much excitement as if the Capitol had been taken. The service which Tusculum had so recently rendered and the similar character of the danger then and now, demanded a similar return of assistance. Fabius made it his first object to carry the spoil from the camp into Antium; leaving a small force there he hastened by forced marches to Tusculum. The soldiers were not allowed to carry anything but their arms and whatever baked bread was at hand, the consul Cornelius brought up supplies from Rome. The fighting went on for some months at Tusculum. With a portion of his army the consul attacked the camp of the Aequi, the rest he lent to the Tusculans for the recapture of their citadel. This could not be approached by direct assault. Ultimately, famine compelled the enemy to evacuate it, and after being reduced to the last extremities, they were all stripped of their arms and clothes and sent under the yoke. Whilst they were making their way home in this ignominious plight, the Roman consul on Algidus followed them up and slew them to a man. After this victory he led his army back to a place called Columen, where he fixed his camp. As the walls of Rome were no longer exposed to danger after the defeat of the enemy, the other consul also marched out of the City. The two consuls entered the enemies’ territories by separate routes, and each tried to outdo the other in devastating the Volscian lands on the one side and those of the Aequi on the other. I find it stated in the majority of authorities that Antium revolted this year, but that the consul L. Cornelius conducted a campaign and recaptured the town, I would not venture to assert, as there is no mention of it in the older writers.
When this war had been brought to a close, the fears of the patricians were aroused by a war which the tribunes commenced at home. They exclaimed that the army was being detained abroad from dishonest motives; it was intended to frustrate the passing of the Law; all the same they would carry through the task they had begun. L. Lucretius, the prefect of the City, succeeded, however, in inducing the tribunes to defer action till the arrival of the consuls. A fresh cause of trouble arose. A. Cornelius and Q. Servilius, the quaestors, indicted M. Volscius on the ground that he had given what was undoubtedly false evidence against Caeso. It had become known from many sources that after the brother of Volscius first became ill, he had not only never been seen in public, but had not even left his bed, and his death was due to an illness of many months’ standing. On the date at which the witness fixed the crime, Caeso was not seen in Rome, whilst those who had served with him declared that he had constantly been in his place in the ranks with them and had not had leave of absence. Many people urged Volscius to institute a private suit before a judge. As he did not venture to take this course, and all the above-mentioned evidence pointed to one conclusion, his condemnation was no more doubtful than that of Caeso had been on the evidence which he had given. The tribunes managed to delay matters; they said they would not allow the quaestors to bring the accused before the Assembly unless it had first been convened to carry the Law. Both questions were adjourned till the arrival of the consuls. When they made their triumphal entry at the head of their victorious army, nothing was said about the Law; most people therefore supposed that the tribunes were intimidated. But it was now the end of the year and they were aiming at a fourth year of office, so they turned their activity from the Law to canvassing the electors. Though the consuls had opposed the tribunes’ continuance in office as strenuously as if the Law had been mooted solely to impair their authority, the victory remained with the tribunes. In the same year the Aequi sued for and obtained peace. The census, commenced the previous year, was completed, and the “lustrum,” which was then closed, is stated to have been the tenth since the beginning of the City. The numbers of the census amounted to 117,319. The consuls in that year won a great reputation both at home and in war, for they secured peace abroad, and though there was not harmony at home, the commonwealth was less disturbed than it had been on other occasions.
The new consuls, L. Minucius and C. Nautius, took over the two subjects which remained from the previous year. As before, they obstructed the Law, the tribunes obstructed the trial of Volscius; but the new quaestors possessed greater energy and greater weight. T. Quinctius Capitolinus, who had been thrice consul, was quaestor with M. Valerius, the son of Valerius and grandson of Volesus. As Caeso could not be restored to the house of the Quinctii, nor could the greatest of her soldiers be restored to the State, Quinctius was bound in justice and by loyalty to his family to prosecute the false witness who had deprived an innocent man of the power to plead in his own defence. As Verginius, most of all the tribunes, was agitating for the Law, an interval of two months was granted the consuls for an examination of it, in order that when they had made the people understand what insidious dishonesty it contained, they might allow them to vote upon it. During this interval matters were quiet in the City. The Aequi, however, did not allow much respite. In violation of the treaty made with Rome the year before, they made predatory incursions into the territory of Labici and then into that of Tusculum. They had placed Gracchus Cloelius in command, their foremost man at that time. After loading themselves with plunder they fixed their camp on Mount Algidus. Q. Fabius, P. Volumnius, and A. Postumius were sent from Rome to demand satisfaction, under the terms of the treaty. The general’s quarters were located under an enormous oak, and he told the Roman envoys to deliver the instructions they had received from the senate to the oak under whose shadow he was sitting, as he was otherwise engaged. As they withdrew, one of the envoys exclaimed, “May this consecrated oak, may each offended deity hear that you have broken the treaty! May they look upon our complaint now, and may they presently aid our arms when we seek to redress the outraged rights of gods as well as men!” On the return of the envoys, the senate ordered one of the consuls to march against Gracchus on Algidus; the other was instructed to ravage the territory of the Aequi. As usual, the tribunes attempted to obstruct the levy and probably would in the end have succeeded, had there not been fresh cause for alarm.
An immense body of Sabines came in their ravages almost up to the walls of the City. The fields were ruined, the City thoroughly alarmed. Now the plebeians cheerfully took up arms, the tribunes remonstrated in vain, and two large armies were levied. Nautius led one of them against the Sabines, formed an entrenched camp, sent out, generally at night, small bodies who created such destruction in the Sabine territory that the Roman borders appeared in comparison almost untouched by war. Minucius was not so fortunate, nor did he conduct the campaign with the same energy; after taking up an entrenched position not far from the enemy, he remained timidly within his camp, though he had not suffered any important defeat. As usual, the enemy were emboldened by the lack of courage on the other side. They made a night attack on his camp, but as they gained little by a direct assault they proceeded the following day to invest it. Before all the exits were closed by the circumvallation, five mounted men got through the enemies’ outposts and brought to Rome the news that the consul and his army were blockaded. Nothing could have happened so unlooked for, so undreamed of; the panic and confusion were as great as if it had been the City and not the camp that was invested. The consul Nautius was summoned home, but as he did nothing equal to the emergency, they decided to appoint a Dictator to retrieve the threatening position of affairs. By universal consent L. Quinctius Cincinnatus was called to the office.
It is worth while for those who despise all human interests in comparison with riches, and think that there is no scope for high honours or for virtue except where lavish wealth abounds, to listen to this story. The one hope of Rome, L. Quinctius, used to cultivate a four-acre field on the other side of the Tiber, just opposite the place where the dockyard and arsenal are now situated; it bears the name of the “Quinctian Meadows.” There he was found by the deputation from the senate either digging out a ditch or ploughing, at all events, as is generally agreed, intent on his husbandry. After mutual salutations he was requested to put on his toga that he might hear the mandate of the senate, and they expressed the hope that it might turn out well for him and for the State. He asked them, in surprise, if all was well, and bade his wife, Racilia, bring him his toga quickly from the cottage. Wiping off the dust and perspiration, he put it on and came forward, on which the deputation saluted him as Dictator and congratulated him, invited him to the City and explained the state of apprehension in which the army were. A vessel had been provided for him by the government, and after he had crossed over, he was welcomed by his three sons, who had come out to meet him. They were followed by other relatives and friends, and by the majority of the senate. Escorted by this numerous gathering and preceded by the lictors, he was conducted to his house. There was also an enormous gathering of the plebs, but they were by no means so pleased to see Quinctius; they regarded the power with which he was invested as excessive, and the man himself more dangerous than his power. Nothing was done that night beyond adequately guarding the City.
The following morning the Dictator went, before daylight, into the Forum and named as his Master of the Horse, L. Tarquitius, a member of a patrician house, but owing to his poverty he had served in the infantry, where he was considered by far the finest of the Roman soldiers. In company with the Master of the Horse the Dictator proceeded to the Assembly, proclaimed a suspension of all public business, ordered the shops to be closed throughout the City, and forbade the transaction of any private business whatever. Then he ordered all who were of military age to appear fully armed in the Campus Martius before sunset, each with five days’ provisions and twelve palisades. Those who were beyond that age were required to cook the rations for their neighbours, whilst they were getting their arms ready and looking for palisades. So the soldiers dispersed to hunt for palisades; they took them from the nearest places, no one was interfered with, all were eager to carry out the Dictator’s edict. The formation of the army was equally adapted for marching or, if circumstances required, for fighting; the Dictator led the legions in person, the Master of the Horse was at the head of his cavalry. To both bodies words of encouragement were addressed suitable to the emergency, exhorting them to march at extra speed, for there was need of haste if they were to reach the enemy at night; a Roman army with its consul had been now invested for three days, it was uncertain what a day or a night might bring forth, tremendous issues often turned on a moment of time. The men shouted to one another, “Hurry on, standard-bearer!” “Follow up, soldiers!” to the great gratification of their leaders. They reached Algidus at midnight, and on finding that they were near the enemy, halted.
The Dictator, after riding round and reconnoitring as well as he could in the night the position and shape of the camp, commanded the military tribunes to give orders for the baggage to be collected together and the soldiers with their arms and palisades to resume their places in the ranks. His orders were carried out. Then, keeping the formation in which they had marched, the whole army, in one long column, surrounded the enemies’ lines. At a given signal all were ordered to raise a shout; after raising the shout each man was to dig a trench in front of him and fix his palisade. As soon as the order reached the men, the signal followed. The men obeyed the order, and the shout rolled round the enemies’ line and over them into the consul’s camp. In the one it created panic, in the other rejoicing. The Romans recognised their fellow-citizens’ shout, and congratulated one another on help being at hand. They even made sorties from their outposts against the enemy and so increased their alarm. The consul said there must be no delay, that shout meant that their friends had not only arrived but were engaged, he should be surprised if the outside of the enemies’ lines was not already attacked. He ordered his men to seize their arms and follow him. A nocturnal battle began. They notified the Dictator’s legions by their shouts that on their side too the action had commenced. The Aequi were already making preparations to prevent themselves from being surrounded when the enclosed enemy began the battle; to prevent their lines from being broken through, they turned from those who were investing them to fight the enemy within, and so left the night free for the Dictator to complete his work. The fighting with the consul went on till dawn. By this time they were completely invested by the Dictator, and were hardly able to keep up the fight against one army. Then their lines were attacked by Quinctius’ army, who had completed the circumvallation and resumed their arms. They had now to maintain a fresh conflict, the previous one was in no way slackened. Under the stress of the double attack they turned from fighting to supplication, and implored the Dictator on the one side and the consul on the other not to make their extermination the price of victory, but to allow them to surrender their arms and depart. The consul referred them to the Dictator, and he, in his anger, determined to humiliate his defeated enemy. He ordered Gracchus Cloelius and others of their principal men to be brought to him in chains, and the town of Corbio to be evacuated. He told the Aequi he did not require their blood, they were at liberty to depart; but, as an open admission of the defeat and subjugation of their nation, they would have to pass under the yoke. This was made of three spears, two fixed upright in the ground, and the third tied to them across the top. Under this yoke the Dictator sent the Aequi.
Their camp was found to be full of everythingfor they had been sent away with only their shirts onand the Dictator gave the whole of the spoil to his own soldiers alone. Addressing the consul and his army in a tone of severe rebuke, “You, soldiers,” he said, “will go without your share of the spoil, for you all but fell a spoil yourselves to the enemy from whom it was taken; and you, L. Minucius, will command these legions as a staff officer, until you begin to show the spirit of a consul.” Minucius laid down his consulship and remained with the army under the Dictator’s orders. But such unquestioning obedience did men in those days pay to authority when ably and wisely exercised, that the soldiers, mindful of the service he had done them rather than of the disgrace inflicted on them, voted to the Dictator a gold crown a pound in weight, and when he left they saluted him as their “patron.” Quintus Fabius, the prefect of the City, convened a meeting of the senate, and they decreed that Quinctius, with the army he was bringing home, should enter the City in triumphal procession. The commanding officers of the enemy were led in front, then the military standards were borne before the general’s chariot, the army followed loaded with spoil. It is said that tables spread with provisions stood before all the houses, and the feasters followed the chariot with songs of triumph and the customary jests and lampoons. On that day the freedom of the City was bestowed on L. Mamilius the Tusculan, amidst universal approval. The Dictator would at once have laid down his office had not the meeting of the Assembly for the trial of M. Volscius detained him: fear of the Dictator prevented the tribunes from obstructing it. Volscius was condemned and went into exile at Lanuvium. Quinctius resigned on the sixteenth day the dictatorship which had been conferred upon him for six months. During that period the consul Nautius fought a brilliant action with the Sabines at Eretum, who suffered a severe defeat, in addition to the ravaging of their fields. Fabius Quintus was sent to succeed Minucius in command at Algidus. Towards the end of the year, the tribunes began to agitate the Law, but as two armies were absent, the senate succeeded in preventing any measure from being brought before the plebs. The latter gained their point, however, in securing the re-election of the tribunes for the fifth time. It is said that wolves pursued by dogs were seen in the Capitol; this prodigy necessitated its purification. These were the events of the year.
The next consuls were Quintus Minucius and C. Horatius Pulvillus. As there was peace abroad at the beginning of the year, the domestic troubles began again; the same tribunes agitating for the same Law. Matters would have gone furtherso inflamed were the passions on both sideshad not news arrived, as though it had been purposely arranged, of the loss of the garrison at Corbio in a night attack of the Aequi. The consuls summoned a meeting of the senate; they were ordered to form a force of all who could bear arms and march to Algidus. The contest about the Law was suspended, and a fresh struggle began about the enlistment. The consular authority was on the point of being overborne by the interference of the tribunes when a fresh alarm was created. A Sabine army had descended on the Roman fields for plunder, and were approaching the City. Thoroughly alarmed, the tribunes allowed the enrolment to proceed; not, however, without insisting on an agreement that since they had been foiled for five years and but slight protection to the plebeians had so far been afforded, there should henceforth be ten tribunes of the plebs elected. Necessity extorted this from the senate, with only one condition, that for the future they should not see the same tribunes in two successive years. That this agreement might not, like all the others, prove illusory, when once the war was over, the elections for tribunes were held at once. The office of tribune had existed for thirty-six years when for the first time ten were created, two from each class. It was definitely laid down that this should be the rule in all future elections. When the enrolment was completed Minucius advanced against the Sabines, but did not find the enemy. After massacring the garrison at Corbio, the Aequi had captured Ortona; Horatius fought them on Algidus, inflicting great slaughter, and drove them not only from Algidus but also out of Corbio and Ortona; Corbio he totally destroyed on account of their having betrayed the garrison.
M. Valerius and Sp. Vergilius were the new consuls. There was quiet at home and abroad. Owing to excessive rain there was a scarcity of provisions. A law was carried making the Aventine a part of the State domain. The tribunes of the plebs were re-elected. These men in the following year, when T. Romilius and C. Veturius were the consuls, were continually making the Law the staple of all their harangues, and said that they should be ashamed of their number being increased to no purpose, if that matter made as little progress during their two years of office as it had made during the five preceding years. Whilst the agitation was at its height, a hurried message came from Tusculum to the effect that the Aequi were in the Tusculan territory. The good services which that nation had so lately rendered made the people ashamed to delay sending assistance. Both consuls were sent against the enemy, and found him in his usual position on Algidus. An action was fought there; above 7000 of the enemy were killed, the rest were put to flight; immense booty was taken. This, owing to the low state of the public treasury, the consuls sold. Their action, however, created ill-feeling in the army, and afforded the tribunes material on which to base an accusation against them. When, therefore, they went out of office, in which they were succeeded by Spurius Tarpeius and A. Aeternius, they were both impeachedRomilius by C. Calvius Cicero, plebeian tribune, and Veturius by L. Alienus, plebeian aedile. To the intense indignation of the senatorial party, both were condemned and fined; Romilius had to pay 10,000 “ases,” and Veturius 15,000. The fate of their predecessors did not shake the resolution of the new consuls; they said that while it was quite possible that they might also be condemned, it was not possible for the plebs and its tribunes to carry the Law. Through long discussion it had become stale, the tribunes now threw it over and approached the patricians in a less aggressive spirit. They urged that an end should be put to their disputes, and if they objected to the measures adopted by the plebeians, they should consent to the appointment of a body of legislators, chosen in equal numbers from plebeians and patricians, to enact what would be useful to both orders and secure equal liberty for each. The patricians thought the proposal worth consideration; they said, however, that no one should legislate unless he were a patrician, since they were agreed as to the laws and only differed as to who should enact them. Commissioners were sent to Athens with instructions to make a copy of the famous laws of Solon, and to investigate the institutions, customs, and laws of other Greek States. Their names were Spurius Postumius Albus, A. Manlius, P. Sulpicius Camerinus.
As regards foreign war, the year was a quiet one. The following one, in which P. Curiatius and Sextus Quinctilius were consuls, was still quieter owing to the continued silence of the tribunes. This was due to two causes: first, they were waiting for the return of the commissioners who had gone to Athens, and the foreign laws which they were to bring; and secondly, two fearful disasters came together, famine and a pestilence which was fatal to men and fatal to cattle. The fields lay waste, the City was depleted by an unbroken series of deaths, many illustrious houses were in mourning. The Flamen Quirinalis, Servius Cornelius, died, also the augur C. Horatius Pulvillus, in whose place the augurs chose C. Veturius, all the more eagerly because he had been condemned by the plebs. The consul Quinctilius and four tribunes of the plebs died. The year was a gloomy one owing to the numerous losses. There was a respite from external enemies. The succeeding consuls were C. Menenius and P. Sestius Capitolinus. This year also was free from war abroad, but commotions began at home. The commissioners had now returned with the laws of Athens; the tribunes, in consequence, were more insistent that a commencement should at last be made in the compilation of the laws. It was decided that a body of Ten (hence called the “Decemvirs") should be created, from whom there should be no appeal, and that all other magistrates should be suspended for the year. There was a long controversy as to whether plebeians should be admitted; at last they gave way to the patricians on condition that the Icilian Law concerning the Aventine and the other sacred laws should not be repealed.
For the second timein the 301st year from the foundation of Romewas the form of government changed; the supreme authority was transferred from consuls to decemvirs, just as it had previously passed from kings to consuls. The change was the less noteworthy owing to its short duration, for the happy beginnings of that government developed into too luxuriant a growth; hence its early failure and the return to the old practice of entrusting to two men the name and authority of consul. The decemvirs were Appius Claudius, T. Genucius, P. Sestius, L. Veturius, C. Julius, A. Manlius, P. Sulpicius, P. Curiatius, T. Romilius, and Sp. Postumius. As Claudius and Genucius were the consuls designate, they received the honour in place of the honour of which they were deprived. Sestius, one of the consuls the year before, was honoured because he had, against his colleague, brought that subject before the senate. Next to them were placed the three commissioners who had gone to Athens, as a reward for their undertaking so distant an embassage, and also because it was thought that those who were familiar with the laws of foreign States would be useful in the compilation of new ones. It is said that in the final voting for the four required to complete the number, the electors chose aged men, to prevent any violent opposition to the decisions of the others. The presidency of the whole body was, in accordance with the wishes of the plebs, entrusted to Appius. He had assumed such a new character that from being a stern and bitter enemy of the people he suddenly appeared as their advocate, and trimmed his sails to catch every breath of popular favour. They administered justice each in turn, the one who was presiding judge for the day was attended by the twelve lictors, the others had only a single usher each. Notwithstanding the singular harmony which prevailed amongst thema harmony which under other circumstances might be dangerous to individualsthe most perfect equity was shown to others. It will be sufficient to adduce a single instance as proof of the moderation with which they acted. A dead body had been discovered and dug up in the house of Sestius, a member of a patrician family. It was brought into the Assembly. As it was clear that an atrocious crime had been committed, Caius Julius, a decemvir, indicted Sestius, and appeared before the people to prosecute in person, though he had the right to act as sole judge in the case. He waived his right in order that the liberties of the people might gain what he surrendered of his power.
Whilst highest and lowest alike were enjoying their prompt and impartial administration of justice, as though delivered by an oracle, they were at the same time devoting their attention to the framing of the laws. These eagerly looked for laws were at length inscribed on ten tables which were exhibited in an Assembly specially convened for the purpose. After a prayer that their work might bring welfare and happiness to the State, to them and to their children, the decemvirs bade them go and read the laws which were exhibited. “As far as the wisdom and foresight of ten men admitted, they had established equal laws for all, for highest and lowest alike; there was, however, more weight in the intelligence and advice of many men. They should turn over each separate item in their minds, discuss them in conversations with each other, and bring forward for public debate what appeared to them superfluous or defective in each enactment. The future laws for Rome should be such as would appear to have been no less unanimously proposed by the people themselves than ratified by them on the proposal of others.” When it appeared that they had been sufficiently amended in accordance with the expression of public opinion on each head, the Laws of the Ten Tables were passed by the Assembly of Centuries. Even in the mass of legislation today, where laws are piled one upon another in a confused heap, they still form the source of all public and private jurisprudence. After their ratification, the remark was generally made that two tables were still wanting; if they were added, the body, as it might be called, of Roman law would be complete. As the day for the elections approached, this impression created a desire to appoint decemvirs for a second year. The plebeians had learnt to detest the name of “consul” as much as that of “king,” and now as the decemvirs allowed an appeal from one of their body to another, they no longer required the aid of their tribunes.
But after notice had been given that the election of decemvirs would be held on the third market day, such eagerness to be amongst those elected displayed itself, that even the foremost men of the State began an individual canvass as humble suitors for an office which they had previously with all their might opposed, seeking it at the hands of that very plebs with which they had hitherto been in conflict. I think they feared that if they did not fill posts of such great authority, they would be open to men who were not worthy of them. Appius Claudius was keenly alive to the chance that he might not be re-elected, in spite of his age and the honours he had enjoyed. You could hardly tell whether to consider him as a decemvir or a candidate. Sometimes he was more like one who sought office than one who actually held it; he abused the nobility, and extolled all the candidates who had neither birth nor personal weight to recommend them; he used to bustle about the Forum surrounded by ex-tribunes of the Duellius and Scilius stamp and through them made overtures to the plebeians, until even his colleagues, who till then had been wholly devoted to him, began to watch him, wondering what he meant. They were convinced that there was no sincerity about it, it was certain that so haughty a man would not exhibit such affability for nothing. They regarded this demeaning of himself and hobnobbing with private individuals as the action of a man who was not so keen to resign office as to discover some way of prolonging it. Not venturing to thwart his aims openly, they tried to moderate his violence by humouring him. As he was the youngest member of their body, they unanimously conferred on him the office of presiding over the elections. By this artifice they hoped to prevent him from getting himself elected; a thing which no one except the tribunes of the plebs had ever done, setting thereby the worst of precedents. However, he gave out that, if all went well, he should hold the elections, and he seized upon what should have been an impediment as a good opportunity for effecting his purpose. By forming a coalition he secured the rejection of the two QuinctiiCapitolinus and Cincinnatushis own uncle, C. Claudius, one of the firmest supporters of the nobility, and other citizens of the same rank. He procured the election of men who were very far from being their equals either socially or politically, himself amongst the first, a step which respectable men disapproved of, all the more because no one had supposed that he would have the audacity to take it. With him were elected M. Cornelius Maluginensis, M. Sergius, L. Minucius, Q. Fabius Vibulanus, Q. Poetilius, T. Antonius Merenda, K. Duillius, Sp. Oppius Cornicen, and Manlius Rabuleius.
This was the end of Appius’ assumption of a part foreign to his nature. From that time his conduct was in accordance with his natural disposition, and he began to mould his new colleagues, even before they entered on office, into the lines of his own character. They held private meetings daily; then, armed with plans hatched in absolute secrecy for exercising unbridled power, they no longer troubled to dissemble their tyranny, but made themselves difficult of access, harsh and stern to those to whom they granted interviews. So matters went on till the middle of May. At that period, May 15, was the proper time for magistrates to take up their office. At the outset, the first day of their government was marked by a demonstration which aroused great fears. For, whereas the previous decemvirs had observed the rule of only one having the “fasces” at a time and making this emblem of royalty go to each in turn, now all the Ten suddenly appeared, each with his twelve lictors. The Forum was filled with one hundred and twenty lictors, and they bore the axes tied up in the “fasces.” The decemvirs explained it by saying that as they were invested with absolute power of life and death, there was no reason for the axes being removed. They presented the appearance of ten kings, and manifold fears were entertained not only by the lowest classes but even by the foremost of the senators. They felt that a pretext for commencing bloodshed was being sought for, so that if any one uttered, either in the senate or amongst the people, a single word which reminded them of liberty, the rods and axes would instantly be made ready for him, to intimidate the rest. For not only was there no protection in the people now that the right of appeal to them was withdrawn, but the decemvirs had mutually agreed not to interfere with each other’s sentences, whereas the previous decemvirs had allowed their judicial decisions to be revised on appeal to a colleague, and certain matters which they considered to be within the jurisdiction of the people they had referred to them. For some time they inspired equal terror in all, gradually it rested wholly on the plebs. The patricians were unmolested; it was the men in humble life for whom they reserved their wanton and cruel treatment. They were solely swayed by personal motives, not by the justice of a cause, since influence had with them the force of equity. They drew up their judgments at home and pronounced them in the Forum; if any one appealed to a colleague, he left the presence of the one to whom he had appealed bitterly regretting that he had not abided by the first sentence. A belief, not traceable to any authoritative source, had got abroad that their conspiracy against law and justice was not for the present only, a secret and sworn agreement existed amongst them not to hold any elections, but to keep their power, now they had once obtained it, by making the decemvirate perpetual.
The plebeians now began to study the faces of the patricians, to catch haply some gleam of liberty from the men from whom they had dreaded slavery and through that dread had brought the commonwealth into its present condition. The leaders of the senate hated the decemvirs, and hated the plebs; they did not approve of what was going on, but they thought that the plebeians deserved all that they got, and refused to help men who by rushing too eagerly after liberty had fallen into slavery. They even increased the wrongs they suffered, that through their disgust and impatience at the present conditions they might begin to long for the former state of things and the two consuls as of old. The greater part of the year had now elapsed; two tables had been added to the ten of the previous year; if these additional laws were passed by the “Comitia Centuriata” there was no reason why the decemvirate should be any longer considered necessary. Men were wondering how soon notice would be given of the election of consuls; the sole anxiety of the plebeians was as to the method by which they could re-establish that bulwark of their liberties, the power of the tribunes, which was now suspended. Meantime nothing was said about any elections. At first the decemvirs had bid for popularity by appearing before the plebs, surrounded by ex-tribunes, but now they were accompanied by an escort of young patricians, who crowded round the tribunals, maltreated the plebeians and plundered their property, and being the stronger, succeeded in getting whatever they had taken a fancy to. They did not stop short of personal violence, some were scourged, others beheaded, and that this brutality might not be gratuitous, the punishment of the owner was followed by a grant of his effects. Corrupted by such bribes, the young nobility not only declined to oppose the lawlessness of the decemvirs, but they openly showed that they preferred their own freedom from all restraints to the general liberty.
The fifteenth of May arrived, the decemvirs’ term of office expired, but no new magistrates were appointed. Though now only private citizens, the decemvirs came forward as determined as ever to enforce their authority and retain all the emblems of power. It was now in truth undisguised monarchy. Liberty was looked upon as for ever lost, none stood forth to vindicate it, nor did it seem likely that any one would do so. Not only had the people sunk into despondency themselves but they were beginning to be despised by their neighbours, who scorned the idea of sovereign power existing where there was no liberty. The Sabines made an incursion into Roman territory in great force, and carrying their ravages far and wide, drove away an immense quantity of men and cattle to Eretum, where they collected their scattered forces and encamped in the hope that the distracted state of Rome would prevent an army from being raised. Not only the messengers who brought the information but the country people who were flying into the City created a panic. The decemvirs, hated alike by the senate and the plebs, were left without any support, and whilst they were consulting as to the necessary measures, Fortune added a fresh cause of alarm. The Aequi, advancing in a different direction, had entrenched themselves on Algidus, and from there were making predatory incursions into the territory of Tusculum. The news was brought by envoys from Tusculum who implored assistance. The panic created unnerved the decemvirs, and seeing the City encompassed by two separate wars they were driven to consult the senate. They gave orders for the senators to be summoned, quite realising what a storm of indignant resentment was awaiting them, and that they would be held solely responsible for the wasted territory and the threatening dangers. This, they expected, would lead to an attempt to deprive them of office, unless they offered a unanimous resistance, and by a sharp exercise of authority on a few of the most daring spirits repress the attempts of the others.
When the voice of the crier was heard in the Forum calling the patricians to the Senate-house to meet the decemvirs, the novelty of it, after so long a suspension of the meetings of the senate, filled the plebeians with astonishment. “What,” they asked, “has happened to revive a practice so long disused? We ought to be grateful to the enemy who are menacing us with war, for causing anything to happen which belongs to the usage of a free State.” They looked in every part of the Forum for a senator, but seldom was one recognised; then they contemplated the Senate-house and the solitude round the decemvirs. The latter put it down to the universal hatred felt for their authority, the plebeians explained it by saying that the senators did not meet because private citizens had not the right to summon them. If the plebs made common cause with the senate, those who were bent on recovering their liberty would have men to lead them, and as the senators when summoned would not assemble, so the plebs must refuse to be enrolled for service. Thus the plebeians expressed their opinions. As to the senators, there was hardly a single member of the order in the Forum, and very few in the City. Disgusted with the state of matters they had retired to their country homes and were attending to their own affairs, having lost all interest in those of the State. They felt that the more they kept away from any meeting and intercourse with their tyrannical masters the safer would it be for them. As, on being summoned, they did not come, the ushers were despatched to their houses to exact the penalties for non-attendance and to ascertain whether they absented themselves of set purpose. They took back word that the senate was in the country. This was less unpleasant for the decemvirs than if they had been in the City and had refused to recognise their authority. Orders were issued for all to be summoned for the following day. They assembled in greater numbers than they themselves expected. This led the plebeians to think that their liberty had been betrayed by the senate, since they had obeyed men whose term of office had expired and who, apart from the force at their disposal, were only private citizens; thus recognising their right to convene the senate.
This obedience, however, was shown more by their coming to the Senate-house than by any servility in the sentiments which we understand that they expressed. It is recorded that after the question of the war had been introduced by Appius Claudius, and before the formal discussion began, L. Valerius Potitus created a scene by demanding that he should be allowed to speak on the political question, and on the decemvirs forbidding him in threatening tones to do so, he declared that he would present himself before the people. Marcus Horatius Barbatus showed himself an equally determined opponent, called the decemvirs “ten Tarquins,” and reminded them that it was under the leadership of the Valerii and the Horatii that monarchy had been expelled from Rome. It was not the name of “king” that men had now grown weary of, for it was the proper title of Jupiter, Romulus the founder of the City and his successors were called “kings,” and the name was still retained for religious purposes. It was the tyranny and violence of kings that men detested. If these were insupportable in a king or a king’s son, who would endure them in ten private citizens? They should see to it that they did not, by forbidding freedom of speech in the House, compel them to speak outside its walls. He could not see how it was less permissible for him as a private citizen to convene an Assembly of the people than for them to summon the senate. They might find out whenever they chose how much more powerful a sense of wrong is to vindicate liberty than greedy ambition is to support tyranny. They were bringing up the question of the Sabine war as if the Roman people had any more serious war to wage than one against men who, appointed to draw up laws, left no vestige of law or justice in the State; who had abolished the elections, the annual magistrates, the regular succession of rulers, which formed the sole guarantee of equal liberty for all; who, though simple citizens, still retained the fasces and the power of despotic monarchs. After the expulsion of the kings, the magistrates were patricians; after the secession of the plebs, plebeian magistrates were appointed. “What party did these men belong to?” he asked. “The popular party? Why, what have they ever done in conjunction with the people? The nobility? What! these men, who have not held a meeting of the senate for nearly a year, and now that they are holding one, forbid any speaking on the political situation? Do not place too much reliance on the fears of others. The ills that men are actually suffering from seem to them much more grievous than any they may fear in the future.”
Whilst Horatius was delivering this impassioned speech, and the decemvirs were in doubt how far they ought to go, whether in the direction of angry resistance or in that of concession, and unable to see what the issue would be, C. Claudius, the uncle of the decemvir Appius, made a speech more in the nature of entreaty than of censure. He implored him by the shade of his father to think rather of the social order under which he had been born than of the nefarious compact made with his colleagues. It was much more, he said, for the sake of Appius than of the State that he made this appeal, for the State would assert its rights in spite of them, if it could not do so with their consent. But great controversies generally kindle great and bitter passions, and it was what these might lead to that he dreaded. Though the decemvirs forbade the discussion of any subject save the one they had introduced, their respect for Claudius prevented them from interrupting him, so he concluded with a resolution that no decree should be passed by the senate. This was universally taken to mean that Claudius adjudged them to be private citizens, and many of the consulars expressed their concurrence. Another proposal, apparently more drastic, but in reality less effective, was that the senate should order the patricians to hold a special meeting to appoint an “interrex.” For by voting for this, they decided that those who were presiding over the senate were lawful magistrates, whoever they were, whereas the proposal that no decree should be passed made them private citizens.
The cause of the decemvirs was on the point of collapsing, when L. Cornelius Maluginensis, the brother of M. Cornelius the decemvir, who had been purposely selected from among the consulars to wind up the debate, undertook to defend his brother and his brother’s colleagues by professing great anxiety about the war. He was wondering, he said, by what fatality it had come about that the decemvirs should be attacked by those who had sought the office or by their allies or in particular by these men, or why, during all the months that the commonwealth was undisturbed, no one questioned whether those at the head of affairs were lawful magistrates or not, whereas now, when the enemy were almost at their gates, they were fomenting civic discordunless indeed they supposed that the nature of their proceeding would be less apparent in the general confusion. No one was justified in importing prejudice into a matter of such moment whilst they were preoccupied with much more serious anxieties. He gave it as his opinion that the point raised by Valerius and Horatius, namely, that the decemvirs had ceased to hold office by May 15, should be submitted to the senate for decision after the impending wars had been brought to a close and the tranquillity of the State restored. And further, that Ap. Claudius must at once understand that he must be prepared to make a proper return of the election which he held for the appointment of decemvirs, stating whether they were elected only for a year, or until such time as the laws which were still required should be passed. In his opinion every matter but the war should for the present be laid aside. If they thought that the reports of it which had got abroad were false, and that not only the messengers which had come in but even the Tuscan envoys had invented the story, then they ought to send out reconnoitring parties to bring back accurate information. If, however, they believed the messengers and the envoys, a levy ought to be made at the earliest possible moment, the decemvirs should lead the armies in whatever direction each thought best, and nothing else should take precedence.
Whilst a division was being taken and the younger senators were carrying this proposition, Valerius and Horatius rose again in great excitement and loudly demanded leave to discuss the political situation. If, they said, the faction in the senate prevented them, they would bring it before the people, for private citizens had no power to silence them either in the Senate-house or in the Assembly, and they were not going to give way before the fasces of a mock authority. Appius felt that unless he met their violence with equal audacity, his authority was practically at an end. “It will be better,” he said, “not to speak on any subject but the one we are now considering,” and as Valerius insisted that he should not keep silent for a private citizen, Appius ordered a lictor to go to him. Valerius ran to the doors of the Senate-house and invoked “the protection of the Quirites.” L. Cornelius put an end to the scene by throwing his arms round Appius as though to protect Valerius, but really to protect Appius from further mischief. He obtained permission for Valerius to say what he wanted, and as this liberty did not go beyond words, the decemvirs achieved their purpose. The consulars and senior senators felt that the tribunitian authority, which they still regarded with detestation, was much more eagerly desired by the plebs than the restoration of the consular authority, and they would almost rather have had the decemvirs voluntarily resigning office at a subsequent period than that the plebs should recover power through their unpopularity. If matters could be quietly arranged and the consuls restored without any popular disturbance, they thought that either the preoccupation of war or the moderate exercise of power on the part of the consuls would make the plebs forget all about their tribunes. The levy was proclaimed without any protest from the senate. The men of age for active service answered to their names, as there was no appeal from the authority of the decemvirs. When the legions were enrolled, the decemvirs arranged among themselves their respective commands. The prominent men amongst them were Q. Fabius and Appius Claudius. The war at home threatened to be more serious than the one abroad, and the violent disposition of Appius was deemed more fitted to repress commotions in the City, whilst Fabius was looked upon as more inclined to evil practices than to be any permanent good to them. This man, at one time so distinguished both at home and in the field, had been so changed by office and the influence of his colleagues that he preferred to take Appius as his model rather than be true to himself. He was entrusted with the Sabine war, and Manlius Rabuleius and Q. Poetilius were associated with him in its conduct. M. Cornelius was sent to Algidus, together with L. Minucius, T. Antonius, Kaeso Duillius, and M. Sergius. It was decreed that Sp. Oppius should assist Ap. Claudius in the defence of the City, with an authority co-ordinate with that of the other decemvirs.
The military operations were not any more satisfactory than the domestic administration. The commanders were certainly at fault in having made themselves objects of detestation to the citizens, but otherwise the whole of the blame rested on the soldiers, who, to prevent anything from succeeding under the auspices and leadership of the decemvirs, disgraced both themselves and their generals by allowing themselves to be defeated. Both armies had been routed, the one by the Sabines at Eretum, the other by the Aequi on Algidus. Fleeing from Eretum in the silence of the night, they had entrenched themselves on some high ground near the City between Fidenae and Crustumeria. They refused to meet the pursuing enemy anywhere on equal terms, and trusted for safety to their entrenchments and the nature of the ground, not to arms or courage. On Algidus they behaved more disgracefully, suffered a heavier defeat, and even lost their camp. Deprived of all their stores, the soldiers made their way to Tusculum, looking for subsistence to the good faith and compassion of their hosts, and their confidence was not misplaced. Such alarming reports were brought to Rome that the senate, laying aside their feeling against the decemvirs, resolved that guards should be mounted in the City, ordered that all who were of age to bear arms should man the walls and undertake outpost duty before the gates, and decreed a supply of arms to be sent to Tusculum to replace those which had been lost, whilst the decemvirs were to evacuate Tusculum and keep their soldiers encamped. The other camp was to be transferred from Fidenae on to the Sabine territory, and by assuming the offensive deter the enemy from any project of attacking the City.
To these defeats at the hands of the enemy have to be added two infamous crimes on the part of the decemvirs. L. Siccius was serving in the campaign against the Sabines. Seeing the bitter feeling against the decemvirs, he used to hold secret conversations with the soldiery and threw out hints about the creation of tribunes and resorting to a secession. He was sent to select and survey a site for a camp, and the soldiers who had been told off to accompany him were instructed to choose a favourable opportunity for attacking and despatching him. They did not effect their purpose with impunity, several of the assassins fell around him whilst he was defending himself with a courage equal to his strength, and that was exceptional. The rest brought a report back to camp that Siccius had fallen into an ambush and had died fighting bravely, whilst some soldiers had been lost with him. At first the informants were believed; but subsequently a cohort which had gone out by permission of the decemvirs to bury those who had fallen, found, when they reached the spot, no corpse despoiled, but the body of Siccius lying in the centre fully armed with those around all turned towards him, whilst there was not a single body belonging to the enemy nor any trace of their having retired. They brought the body back and declared that, as a matter of fact, he had been killed by his own men. The camp was filled with deep resentment, and it was decided that Siccius should be forthwith carried to Rome. The decemvirs anticipated this resolve by hastily burying him with military honours at the cost of the State. The soldiers manifested profound grief at his funeral, and the worst possible suspicions were everywhere entertained against the decemvirs.
This was followed by a second atrocity, the result of brutal lust, which occurred in the City and led to consequences no less tragic than the outrage and death of Lucretia, which had brought about the expulsion of the royal family. Not only was the end of the decemvirs the same as that of the kings, but the cause of their losing their power was the same in each case. Ap. Claudius had conceived a guilty passion for a girl of plebeian birth. The girl’s father, L. Verginius, held a high rank in the army on Algidus; he was a man of exemplary character both at home and in the field. His wife had been brought up on equally high principles, and their children were being brought up in the same way. He had betrothed his daughter to L. Icilius, who had been tribune, an active and energetic man whose courage had been proved in his battles for the plebs. This girl, now in the bloom of her youth and beauty, excited Appius’ passions, and he tried to prevail on her by presents and promises. When he found that her virtue was proof against all temptation, he had recourse to unscrupulous and brutal violence. He commissioned a client, M. Claudius, to claim the girl as his slave, and to bar any claim on the part of her friends to retain possession of her till the case was tried, as he thought that the father’s absence afforded a good opportunity for this illegal action. As the girl was going to her school in the Forumthe grammar schools were held in booths therethe decemvir’s pander laid his hand upon her, declaring that she was the daughter of a slave of his, and a slave herself. He then ordered her to follow him, and threatened, if she hesitated, to carry her off by force. While the girl was stupefied with terror, her maid’s shrieks, invoking “the protection of the Quirites,” drew a crowd together. The names of her father Verginius and her betrothed lover, Icilius, were held in universal respect. Regard for them brought their friends, feelings of indignation brought the crowd to the maiden’s support. She was now safe from violence; the man who claimed her said that he was proceeding according to law, not by violence, there was no need for any excited gathering. He cited the girl into court. Her supporters advised her to follow him; they came before the tribunal of Appius. The claimant rehearsed a story already perfectly familiar to the judge as he was the author of the plot, how the girl had been born in his house, stolen from there, transferred to the house of Verginius and fathered on him; these allegations would be supported by definite evidence, and he would prove them to the satisfaction of Verginius himself, who was really most concerned, as an injury had been done to him. Meanwhile, he urged, it was only right that a slave girl should follow her master. The girl’s advocates contended that Verginius was absent on the service of the State, he would be present in two days’ time if information were sent to him, and it was contrary to equity that in his absence he should incur risk with regard to his children. They demanded that he should adjourn the whole of the proceedings till the father’s arrival, and in accordance with the law which he himself had enacted, grant the custody of the girl to those who asserted her freedom, and not suffer a maiden of ripe age to incur danger to her reputation before her liberty was imperilled.
Before giving judgment, Appius showed how liberty was upheld by that very law to which the friends of Verginia had appealed in support of their demand. But, he went on to say, it guaranteed liberty only so far as its provisions were strictly adhered to as regarded both persons and cases. For where personal freedom is the matter of claim, that provision holds good, because any one can lawfully plead, but in the case of one who is still in her father’s power, there is none but her father to whom her master need renounce possession. His decision, therefore, was that the father should be summoned, and in the meanwhile the man who claimed her should not forego his right to take the girl and give security to produce her on the arrival of her reputed father. The injustice of this sentence called forth many murmurs, but no one ventured on open protest, until P. Numitorius, the girl’s grandfather, and Icilius, her betrothed, appeared on the scene. The intervention of Icilius seemed to offer the best chance of thwarting Appius, and the crowd made way for him. The lictor said that judgment had been given, and as Icilius continued loudly protesting he attempted to remove him. Such rank injustice would have fired even a gentle temper. He exclaimed, “I am, at your orders, Appius, to be removed at the point of the sword, that you may stifle all comment on what you want to keep concealed. I am going to marry this maiden, and I am determined to have a chaste wife. Summon all the lictors of all your colleagues, give orders for the axes and rods to be in readinessthe betrothed of Icilius shall not remain outside her father’s house. Even if you have deprived us of the two bulwarks of our libertythe aid of our tribunes and the right of appeal to the Roman plebsthat has given you no right to our wives and children, the victims of your lust. Vent your cruelty upon our backs and necks; let female honour at least be safe. If violence is offered to this girl, I shall invoke the aid of the Quirites here for my betrothed, Verginius that of the soldiers for his only daughter; we shall all invoke the aid of gods and men, and you shall not carry out that judgment except at the cost of our lives. Reflect, Appius, I demand of you, whither you are going! When Verginius has come, he must decide what action to take about his daughter; if he submits to this man’s claim, he must look out another husband for her. Meantime I will vindicate her liberty at the price of my life, sooner than sacrifice my honour.”
The people were excited and a conflict appeared imminent. The lictors had closed round Icilius, but matters had not got beyond threats on both sides when Appius declared that it was not the defence of Verginia that was Icilius’ main object; a restless intriguer, even yet breathing the spirit of the tribuneship, was looking out for a chance of creating sedition. He would not, however, afford him material for it that day, but that he might know that it was not to his insolence that he was making a concession, but to the absent Verginius, to the name of father, and to liberty, he would not adjudicate on that day, or issue any decree. He would ask M. Claudius to forego his right, and allow the girl to be in the custody of her friends till the morrow. If the father did not then appear, he warned Icilius and men of his stamp that neither as legislator would he be disloyal to his own law, nor as decemvir would he lack firmness to execute it. He certainly would not call upon the lictors of his colleagues to repress the ringleaders of sedition, he should be content with his own. The time for perpetrating this illegality was thus postponed, and after the girl’s supporters had withdrawn, it was decided as the very first thing to be done that the brother of Icilius and one of Numitor’s sons, both active youths, should make their way straight to the gate and summon Verginius from the camp with all possible speed. They knew that the girl’s safety turned upon her protector against lawlessness being present in time. They started on their mission, and riding at full speed brought the news to the father. While the claimant of the girl was pressing Icilius to enter his plea and name his sureties, and Icilius kept asserting that this very thing was being arranged, purposely spinning out the time to allow of his messengers getting first to the camp, the crowd everywhere held up their hands to show that every one of them was ready to be security for him. With tears in his eyes, he said, “It is most kind of you. Tomorrow I may need your help, now I have sufficient securities.” So Verginia was bailed on the security of her relatives. Appius remained for some time on the bench, to avoid the appearance of having taken his seat for that one case only. When he found that owing to the universal interest in this one case no other suitors appeared, he withdrew to his home and wrote to his colleagues in camp not to grant leave of absence to Verginius, and actually to keep him under arrest. This wicked advice came too late, as it deserved to do; Verginius had already obtained leave, and started in the first watch. The letter ordering his detention was delivered the next morning, and was therefore useless.
In the City, the citizens were standing in the Forum in the early dawn, on the tiptoe of expectation. Verginius, in mourning garb, brought his daughter, similarly attired, and accompanied by a number of matrons, into the Forum. An immense body of sympathisers stood round him. He went amongst the people, took them by the hand and appealed to them to help him, not out of compassion only but because they owed it to him; he was at the front day by day, in defence of their children and their wives; of no man could they recount more numerous deeds of endurance and of daring than of him. What good was it all, he asked, if while the City was safe, their children were exposed to what would be their worst fate if it were actually captured? Men gathered round him, whilst he spoke as though he were addressing the Assembly. Icilius followed in the same strain. The women who accompanied him made a profounder impression by their silent weeping than any words could have made. Unmoved by all thisit was really madness rather than love that had clouded his judgmentAppius mounted the tribunal. The claimant began by a brief protest against the proceedings of the previous day; judgment, he said, had not been given owing to the partiality of the judge. But before he could proceed with his claim or any opportunity was given to Verginius of replying, Appius intervened. It is possible that the ancient writers may have correctly stated some ground which he alleged for his decision, but I do not find one anywhere that would justify such an iniquitous decision. The one thing which can be propounded as being generally admitted is the judgment itself. His decision was that the girl was a slave. At first all were stupefied with amazement at this atrocity, and for a few moments there was a dead silence. Then, as M. Claudius approached the matrons standing round the girl, to seize her amidst their outcries and tears, Verginius, pointing with outstretched arm to Appius, cried, “It is to Icilius and not to you, Appius, that I have betrothed my daughter; I have brought her up for wedlock, not for outrage. Are you determined to satisfy your brutal lusts like cattle and wild beasts? Whether these people will put up with this, I know not, but I hope that those who possess arms will refuse to do so.” Whilst the man who claimed the maiden was being pushed back by the group of women and her supporters who stood round, the crier called for silence.
The decemvir, utterly abandoned to his passion, addressed the crowd and told them that he had ascertained not only through the insolent abuse of Icilius on the previous day and the violent behaviour of Verginius, which the Roman people could testify to, but mainly from certain definite information received, that all through the night meetings had been held in the City to organise a seditious movement. Forewarned of the likelihood of disturbance, he had come down into the Forum with an armed escort, not to injure peaceable citizens, but to uphold the authority of the government by putting down the disturbers of public tranquillity. “It will therefore,” he proceeded, “be better for you to keep quiet. Go, lictor, remove the crowd and clear a way for the master to take possession of his slave.” When, in a transport of rage, he had thundered out these words, the people fell back and left the deserted girl a prey to injustice. Verginius, seeing no prospect of help anywhere, turned to the tribunal. “Pardon me, Appius, I pray you, if I have spoken disrespectfully to you, pardon a father’s grief. Allow me to question the nurse here, in the maiden’s presence, as to what are the real facts of the case, that if I have been falsely called her father, I may leave her with the greater resignation.” Permission being granted, he took the girl and her nurse aside to the booths near the temple of Venus Cloacina, now known as the “New Booths,” and there, snatching up a butcher’s knife, he plunged it into her breast, saying, “In this the only way in which I can, I vindicate, my child, thy freedom.” Then, looking towards the tribunal, “By this blood, Appius, I devote thy head to the infernal gods.” Alarmed at the outcry which arose at this terrible deed, the decemvir ordered Verginius to be arrested. Brandishing the knife, he cleared the way before him, until, protected by a crowd of sympathisers, he reached the city gate. Icilius and Numitorius took up the lifeless body and showed it to the people; they deplored the villainy of Appius, the ill-starred beauty of the girl, the terrible compulsion under which the father had acted. The matrons, who followed with angry cries, asked, “Was this the condition on which they were to rear children, was this the reward of modesty and purity?” with other manifestations of that womanly grief, which, owing to their keener sensibility, is more demonstrative, and so expresses itself in more moving and pitiful fashion. The men, and especially Icilius, talked of nothing but the abolition of the tribunitian power and the right of appeal and loudly expressed their indignation at the condition of public affairs.
The people were excited partly by the atrocity of the deed, partly by the opportunity now offered of recovering their liberties. Appius first ordered Icilius to be summoned before him, then, on his refusal to come, to be arrested. As the lictors were not able to get near him, Appius himself with a body of young patricians forced his way through the crowd and ordered him to be taken to prison. By this time Icilius was not only surrounded by the people, but the people’s leaders were thereL. Valerius and M. Horatius. They drove back the lictors and said, if they were going to proceed by law, they would undertake the defence of Icilius against one who was only a private citizen, but if they were going to attempt force, they would be no unequal match for him. A furious scuffle began, the decemvir’s lictors attacked Valerius and Horatius; their “fasces” were broken up by the people; Appius mounted the platform, Horatius and Valerius followed him; the Assembly listened to them, Appius was shouted down. Valerius, assuming the tone of authority, ordered the lictors to cease attendance on one who held no official position, on which Appius, thoroughly cowed, and fearing for his life, muffled his head with his toga and retreated into a house near the Forum, without his adversaries perceiving his flight. Sp. Oppius burst into the Forum from the other side to support his colleague, and saw that their authority was overcome by main force. Uncertain what to do and distracted by the conflicting advice given him on all sides, he gave orders for the senate to be summoned. As a great number of the senators were thought to disapprove of the conduct of the decemvirs, the people hoped that their power would be put an end to through the action of the senate, and consequently became quiet. The senate decided that nothing should be done to irritate the plebs, and, what was of much more importance, that every precaution should be taken to prevent the arrival of Verginius from creating a commotion in the army.
Accordingly, some of the younger senators were sent to the camp, which was then on Mount Vecilius. They informed the three decemvirs who were in command that by every possible means they were to prevent the soldiers from mutinying. Verginius caused a greater commotion in the camp than the one he had left behind in the City. The sight of his arrival with a body of nearly 400 men from the City, who, fired with indignation, had enlisted themselves as his comrades, still more the weapon still clenched in his hand and his blood-besprinkled clothes, attracted the attention of the whole camp. The civilian garb seen in all directions in the camp made the number of the citizens who had accompanied him seem greater than it was. Questioned as to what had happened, Verginius for a long time could not speak for weeping; at length when those who had run up stood quietly round him and there was silence, he explained everything in order just as it happened. Then lifting up his hands to heaven he appealed to them as his fellow-soldiers and implored them not to attribute to him what was really the crime of Appius, nor to look upon him with abhorrence as the murderer of his children. His daughter’s life was dearer to him than his own, had she been allowed to live in liberty and purity; when he saw her dragged off as a slave-girl to be outraged, he thought it better to lose his child by death than by dishonour. It was through compassion for her that he had fallen into what looked like cruelty, nor would he have survived her had he not entertained the hope of avenging her death by the aid of his fellow-soldiers. For they, too, had daughters and sisters and wives; the lust of Appius was not quenched with his daughter’s life, nay rather, the more impunity it met with the more unbridled would it be. Through the sufferings of another they had received a warning how to guard themselves against a like wrong. As for him, his wife had been snatched from him by Fate, his daughter, because she could no longer live in chastity, had met a piteous but an honourable death. There was no longer in his house any opportunity for Appius to gratify his lust, from any other violence on that man’s part he would defend himself with the same resolution with which he had defended his child; others must look out for themselves and for their children.
To this impassioned appeal of Verginius the crowd replied with a shout that they would not fail him in his grief or in the defence of his liberty. The civilians mingling in the throng of soldiers told the same tragic story, and how much more shocking the incident was to behold than to hear about; at the same time they announced that affairs were in fatal confusion at Rome, and that some had followed them into camp with the tidings that Appius after being almost killed had gone into exile. The result was a general call to arms, they plucked up the standards and started for Rome. The decemvirs, thoroughly alarmed at what they saw and at what they heard of the state of things in Rome, went to different parts of the camp to try and allay the excitement. Where they tried persuasion no answer was returned, but where they attempted to exercise authority, the reply was, “We are men and have arms.” They marched in military order to the City and occupied the Aventine. Every one whom they met was urged to recover the liberties of the plebs and appoint tribunes; apart from this, no appeals to violence were heard. The meeting of the senate was presided over by Sp. Oppius. They decided not to adopt any harsh measures, as it was through their own lack of energy that the sedition had arisen. Three envoys of consular rank were sent to the army to demand in the name of the senate by whose orders they had abandoned their camp, and what they meant by occupying the Aventine in arms, and diverting the war from foreign foes to their own country, which they had taken forcible possession of. They were at no loss for an answer, but they were at a loss for some one to give it, since they had as yet no regular leader, and individual officers did not venture to expose themselves to the dangers of such a position. The only reply was a loud and general demand that L. Valerius and M. Horatius should be sent to them, to these men they would give a formal reply.
After the envoys were dismissed, Verginius pointed out to the soldiers that they had a few moments ago felt themselves embarrassed in a matter of no great importance, because they were a multitude without a head, and the answer they had given, though it served their turn, was the outcome rather of the general feeling at the time than of any settled purpose. He was of opinion that ten men should be chosen to hold supreme command, and by virtue of their military rank should be called tribunes of the soldiers. He himself was the first to whom this distinction was offered, but he replied, “Reserve the opinion you have formed of me till both you and I are in more favourable circumstances; so long as my daughter is unavenged no honour can give me pleasure, nor in the present disturbed state of the commonwealth is it any advantage for those men to be at your head who are most obnoxious to party malice. If I am to be of any use, I shall be none the less so in a private capacity.” Ten military tribunes, accordingly, were appointed. The army acting against the Sabines did not remain passive. There, too, at the instigation of Icilius and Numitorius, a revolt against the decemvirs took place. The feelings of the soldiery were roused by the recollection of the murdered Siccius no less than by the fresh story of the maiden whom it had been sought to make a victim of foul lust. When Icilius heard that tribunes of the soldiers had been elected on the Aventine, he anticipated from what he knew of the plebs that when they came. to elect their tribunes they would follow the lead of the army and choose those who were already elected as military tribunes. As he was looking to a tribuneship himself, he took care to get the same number appointed and invested with similar powers by his own men, before they entered the City. They made their entry through the Colline gate in military order, with standards displayed, and proceeded through the heart of the City to the Aventine. There the two armies united, and the twenty military tribunes were requested to appoint two of their number to take the supreme direction of affairs. They appointed M. Oppius and Sex. Manlius. Alarmed at the direction affairs were talking, the senate held daily meetings, but the time was spent in mutual reproaches rather than in deliberation. The decemvirs were openly charged with the murder of Siccius, the profligacy of Appius, and the disgrace incurred in the field. It was proposed that Valerius and Horatius should go to the Aventine, but they refused to go unless the decemvirs gave up the insignia of an office which had expired the previous year. The decemvirs protested against this attempt to coerce them, and said that they would not lay down their authority until the laws which they were appointed to draw up were duly enacted.
M. Duillius, a former tribune, informed the plebs that, owing to incessant wranglings, no business was being transacted in the senate. He did not believe that the senators would trouble about them till they saw the City deserted; the Sacred Hill would remind them of the firm determination once shown by the plebs, and they would learn that unless the tribunitian power was restored there could be no concord in the State. The armies left the Aventine and, going out by the Nomentanor, as it was then called, the Ficulanroad, they encamped on the Sacred Hill, imitating the moderation of their fathers by abstaining from all injury. The plebeian civilians followed the army, no one whose age allowed him to go hung back. Their wives and children followed them, asking in piteous tones, to whom would they leave them in a City where neither modesty nor liberty were respected? The unwonted solitude gave a dreary and deserted look to every part of Rome; in the Forum there were only a few of the older patricians, and when the senate was in session it was wholly deserted. Many besides Horatius and Valerius were now angrily asking, “What are you waiting for, senators? If the decemvirs do not lay aside their obstinacy, will you allow everything to go to wrack and ruin? And what, pray; is that authority, decemvirs, to which you cling so closely? Are you going to administer justice to walls and roofs? Are you not ashamed to see a greater number of lictors in the Forum than of all other citizens put together? What will you do if the enemy approach the City? What if the plebs, seeing that their secession has no effect, come shortly against us in arms? Do you want to end your power by the fall of the City? Either you will have to do without the plebeians or you will have to accept their tribunes; sooner than they will go without their magistrates, we shall have to go without ours. That power which they wrested from our fathers, when it was an untried novelty, they will not submit to be deprived of, now that they have tasted the sweets of it, especially as we are not making that moderate use of our power which would prevent their needing its protection.” Remonstrances like these came from all parts of the House; at last the decemvirs, overborne by the unanimous opposition, asserted that since it was the general wish, they would submit to the authority of the senate. All they asked for was that they might be protected against the popular rage; they warned the senate against the plebs becoming by their death habituated to inflicting punishment on the patricians.
Valerius and Horatius were then sent to the plebs with terms which it was thought would lead to their return and the adjustment of all differences; they were also instructed to procure guarantees for the protection of the decemvirs against popular violence. They were welcomed in the camp with every expression of delight, for they were unquestionably regarded as liberators from the commencement of the disturbance to its close. Thanks therefore were offered to them on their arrival. Icilius was the spokesman. A policy had been agreed upon before the arrival of the envoys, so when the discussion of the terms commenced, and the envoys asked what the demands of the plebs were, Icilius put forward proposals of such a nature as to show clearly that their hopes lay in the justice of their cause rather than in an appeal to arms. They demanded the re-establishment of the tribunitian power and the right of appeal, which before the institution of decemvirs had been their main security. They also demanded an amnesty for those who had incited the soldiers or the plebs to recover their liberties by a secession. The only vindictive demand made was with reference to the punishment of the decemvirs. They insisted, as an act of justice, that they should be surrendered, and they threatened to burn them alive. The envoys replied to these demands as follows: “The demands you have put forward as the result of your deliberations are so equitable that they would have been voluntarily conceded, for you ask for them as the safeguards of your liberties, not as giving you licence to attack others. Your feelings of resentment are to be excused rather than indulged; for it is through hatred of cruelty that you are actually hurrying into cruelty, and almost before you are free yourselves you want to act the tyrant over your adversaries. Is our State never to enjoy any respite from punishments inflicted either by the patricians on the Roman plebs, or by the plebs on the patricians? You need the shield rather than the sword. He is humble enough who lives in the State under equal laws, neither inflicting nor suffering injury. Even if the time should come when you will make yourselves formidable, when, after recovering your magistrates and your laws, you will have judicial power over our lives and propertyeven then you will decide each case on its merits, it is enough now that your liberties are won back.”
Permission having been unanimously granted them to do as they thought best, the envoys announced that they would return shortly after matters were arranged. When they laid the demands of the plebs before the senate, the other decemvirs, on finding that no mention was made of inflicting punishment on them, raised no objection whatever. The stern Appius, who was detested most of all, measuring the hatred of others towards him by his hatred towards them, said, “I am quite aware of the fate that is hanging over me. I see that the struggle against us is only postponed till our weapons are handed over to our opponents. Their rage must be appeased with blood. Still, even I do not hesitate to lay down my decemvirate.” A decree was passed for the decemvirs to resign office as soon as possible, Q. Furius, the Pontifex Maximus, to appoint tribunes of the plebs, and an amnesty to be granted for the secession of the soldiers and the plebs. After these decrees were passed, the senate broke up, and the decemvirs proceeded to the Assembly and formally laid down their office, to the immense delight of all. This was reported to the plebs on the Sacred Hill. The envoys who carried the intelligence were followed by everybody who was left in the City; this mass of people was met by another rejoicing multitude who issued from the camp. They exchanged mutual congratulations on the restoration of liberty and concord. The envoys, addressing the multitude as an Assembly, said, “Prosperity, fortune, and happiness to you and to the State! Return to your fatherland, your homes, your wives, and your children! But carry into the City the same self-control which you have exhibited here, where no man’s land has been damaged, notwithstanding the need of so many things necessary for so large a multitude. Go to the Aventine, whence you came; there, on the auspicious spot where you laid the beginnings of your liberty, you will appoint your tribunes; the Pontifex Maximus will be present to hold the election.” Great was the delight and eagerness with which they applauded everything. They plucked up the standards and started for Rome, outdoing those they met in their expressions of joy. Marching under arms through the City in silence, they reached the Aventine. There the Pontifex Maximus at once proceeded to hold the election for tribunes. The first to be elected was L. Verginius; next, the organisers of the secession, L. Icilius and P. Numitorius, the uncle of Verginius; then, C. Sicinius, the son of the man who is recorded as the first to be elected of the tribunes on the Sacred Hill, and M. Duillius, who had filled that office with distinction before the appointment of the decemvirs, and through all the struggles with them had never failed to support the plebs. After these came M. Titinius, M. Pomponius, C. Apronius, Appius Villius, and Caius Oppius, all of whom were elected rather in hope of their future usefulness than for any services actually rendered. When he had entered on his tribuneship L. Icilius at once proposed a resolution which the plebs accepted, that no one should suffer for the secession. Marcus Duillius immediately carried a measure for the election of consuls and the right of appeal from them to the people. All these measures were passed in a council of the plebs which was held in the Flaminian Meadows, now called the Circus Flaminius.
The election of consuls took place under the presidency of an “interrex.” Those elected were L. Valerius and M. Horatius, and they at once assumed office. Their consulship was a popular one, and inflicted no injustice upon the patricians, though they regarded it with suspicion, for whatever was done to safeguard the liberties of the plebs they looked upon as an infringement of their own powers. First of all, as it was a doubtful legal point whether the patricians were bound by the ordinances of the plebs, they carried a law in the Assembly of Centuries that what the plebs had passed in their Tribes should be binding on the whole people. By this law a very effective weapon was placed in the hands of the tribunes. Then another consular law, confirming the right of appeal, as the one defence of liberty, which had been annulled by the decemvirs, was not only restored but strengthened for the future by a fresh enactment. This forbade the appointment of any magistrate from whom there was no right of appeal, and provided that any one who did so appoint might be rightly and lawfully put to death, nor should the man who put him to death be held guilty of murder. When they had sufficiently strengthened the plebs by the right of appeal on the one hand and the protection afforded by the tribunes on the other, they proceeded to secure the personal inviolability of the tribunes themselves. The memory of this had almost perished, so they renewed it with certain sacred rites revived from a distant past, and in addition to securing their inviolability by the sanctions of religion, they enacted a law that whoever offered violence to the magistrates of the plebs, whether tribunes, aediles, or decemviral judges, his person should be devoted to Jupiter, his possessions sold and the proceeds assigned to the temples of Ceres, Liber, and Liberal Jurists say that by this law no one was actually “sacrosanct,” but that when injury was offered to any of those mentioned above the offender was “sacer.” If an aedile, therefore, were arrested and sent to prison by superior magistrates, though this could not be done by lawfor by this law it would not be lawful for him to be injuredyet it is a proof that an aedile is not held to be “sacrosanct,” whereas the tribunes of the plebs were “sacrosanct” by the ancient oath taken by the plebeians when that office was first created. There were some who interpreted the law as including even the consuls in its provisions, and the praetors, because they were elected under the same auspices as the consuls, for a consul was called a “judge.” This interpretation is refuted by the fact that in those times it was the custom for a judge to be called not “consul” but “praetor.” These were the laws enacted by the consuls. They also ordered that the decrees of the senate, which used formerly to be suppressed and tampered with at the pleasure of the consuls, should henceforth be taken to the aediles at the temple of Ceres. Marcus Duillius, the tribune, then proposed a resolution which the plebs adopted, that any one who should leave the plebs without tribunes, or who should create a magistrate from whom there was no appeal, should be scourged and beheaded. All these transactions were distasteful to the patricians, but they did not actively oppose them, as none of them had yet been marked out for vindictive proceedings.
The power of the tribunes and the liberties of the plebs were now on a secure basis. The next step was taken by the tribunes, who thought the time had come when they might safely proceed against individuals. They selected Verginius to take up the first prosecution, which was that of Appius. When the day had been fixed, and Appius had come down to the Forum with a bodyguard of young patricians, the sight of him and his satellites reminded all present of the power he had used so vilely. Verginius began: “Oratory was invented for doubtful cases. I will not, therefore, waste time by a long indictment before you of the man from whose cruelty you have vindicated yourselves by force of arms, nor will I allow him to add to his other crimes an impudent defence. So I will pass over, Appius Claudius, all the wicked and impious things that you had the audacity to do, one after another, for the last two years. One charge only will I bring against you, that contrary to law you have adjudged a free person to be a slave, and unless you name an umpire before whom you can prove your innocence, I shall order you to be taken to prison.” Appius had nothing to hope for in the protection of the tribunes or the verdict of the people. Nevertheless he called upon the tribunes, and when none intervened to stay proceedings and he was seized by the apparitor, he said, “I appeal.” This single word, the protection of liberty, uttered by those lips which had so lately judicially deprived a person of her freedom, produced a general silence. Then the people remarked to one another that there were gods after all who did not neglect the affairs of men; arrogance and cruelty were visited by punishments which, though lingering, were not light; that man was appealing who had taken away the power of appeal; that man was imploring the protection of the people who had trampled underfoot all their rights; he was losing his own liberty and being carried off to prison who had sentenced a free person to slavery. Amidst the murmur of the Assembly the voice of Appius himself was heard imploring “the protection of the Roman people.”
He began by enumerating the services of his ancestors to the State, both at home and in the field; his own unfortunate devotion to the plebs, which had led him to resign his consulship in order to enact equal laws for all, giving thereby the greatest offence to the patricians; his laws which were still in force, though their author was being carried to prison. As to his own personal conduct and his good and evil deeds, however, he would bring them to the test when he had the opportunity of pleading his cause. For the present he claimed the common right of a Roman citizen to be allowed to plead on the appointed day and submit himself to the judgment of the Roman people. He was not so apprehensive of the general feeling against him as to abandon all hope in the impartiality and sympathy of his fellow-citizens. If he was to be taken to prison before his case was heard, he would once more appeal to the tribunes, and warn them not to copy the example of those whom they hated. If they admitted that they were bound by the same agreement to abolish the right of appeal which they accused the decemvirs of having formed, then he would appeal to the people and invoke the laws which both consuls and tribunes had enacted that very year to protect that right. For if before the case is heard and judgment given there is no power of appeal, who would appeal? What plebeian, even the humblest, would find protection in the laws, if Appius Claudius could not? His case would show whether it was tyranny or freedom that was conferred by the new laws, and whether the right of challenge and appeal against the injustice of magistrates was only displayed in empty words or was actually granted.
Verginius replied. Appius Claudius, he said, alone was outside the laws, outside all the bonds that held States or even human society together. Let men cast their eyes on that tribunal, the fortress of all villainies, where that perpetual decemvir, surrounded by hangmen not lictors, in contempt of gods and men alike, wreaked his vengeance on the goods, the backs, and the lives of the citizens, threatening all indiscriminately with the rods and axes, and then when his mind was diverted from rapine and murder to lust, tore a free-born maiden from her father’s arms, before the eyes of Rome, and gave her to a client, the minister of his intriguesthat tribunal where by a cruel decree and infamous judgment he armed the father’s hand against the daughter, where he ordered those who took up the maiden’s lifeless bodyher betrothed lover and her grandfatherto be thrown into prison, moved less by her death than by the check to his criminal gratification. For him as much as for others was that prison built which he used to call “the domicile of the Roman plebs.” Let him appeal again and again, he (the speaker) would always refer him to an umpire on the charge of having sentenced a free person to slavery. If he would not go before an umpire he should order him to be imprisoned as though found guilty. He was accordingly thrown into prison, and though no one actually opposed this step, there was a general feeling of anxiety, since even the plebeians themselves thought it an excessive use of their liberty to inflict punishment on so great a man. The tribune adjourned the day of trial. During these proceedings ambassadors came from the Latins and Hernicans to offer their congratulations on the restoration of harmony between the patriciate and the plebs. As a memorial of it, they brought an offering to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, in the shape of a golden crown. It was not a large one, as they were not wealthy States; their religious observances were characterised by devotion rather than magnificence. They also brought information that the Aequi and Volscians were devoting all their energies to preparing for war. The consuls were thereupon ordered to arrange their respective commands. The Sabines fell to Horatius, the Aequi to Valerius. They proclaimed a levy for these wars, and so favourable was the attitude of the plebs that not only did the men liable for service promptly give in their names, but a large part of the levy consisted of men who had served their time and came forward as volunteers. In this way the army was strengthened not only in numbers but in the quality of the soldiers, as veterans took their places in the ranks. Before they left the City, the laws of the decemvirs, known as the “Twelve Tables,” were engraved in brass and publicly exhibited; some writers assert that the aediles discharged this task under orders from the tribunes.
Caius Claudius, through detestation of the crimes committed by the decemvirs, and the anger which he, more than any one, felt at the tyrannical conduct of his nephew, had retired to Regillum, his ancestral home. Though advanced in years, he now returned to the City, to deprecate the dangers threatening the man whose vicious practices had driven him into retirement. Going down to the Forum in mourning garb, accompanied by the members of his house and by his clients, he appealed to the citizens individually, and implored them not to stain the house of the Claudii with such an indelible disgrace as to deem them worthy of bonds and imprisonment. To think that a man whose image would be held in highest honour by posterity, the framer of their laws and the founder of Roman jurisprudence, should be lying manacled amongst nocturnal thieves and robbers! Let them turn their thoughts for a moment from feelings of exasperation to calm examination and reflection, and forgive one man at the intercession of so many of the Claudii, rather than through their hatred of one man despise the prayers of many. So far he himself would go for the honour of his family and his name, but he was not reconciled to the man whose distressed condition he was anxious to relieve. By courage their liberties had been recovered, by clemency the harmony of the orders in the State could be strengthened. Some were moved, but it was more by the affection he showed for his nephew than by any regard for the man for whom he was pleading. But Verginius begged them with tears to keep their compassion for him and his daughter, and not to listen to the prayers of the Claudii, who had assumed sovereign power over the plebs, but to the three tribunes, kinsmen of Verginia, who, after being elected to protect the plebeians, were now seeking their protection. This appeal was felt to have more justice in it. All hope being now cut off, Appius put an end to his life before the day of trial came.
Soon after Sp. Oppius was arraigned by P. Numitorius. He was only less detested than Appius, because he had been in the City when his colleague pronounced the iniquitous judgment. More indignation, however, was aroused by an atrocity which Oppius had committed than by his not having prevented one. A witness was produced, who after reckoning up twenty-seven years of service, and eight occasions on which he had been decorated for conspicuous bravery, appeared before the people wearing all his decorations. Tearing open his dress he exhibited his back lacerated with stripes. He asked for nothing but a proof on Oppius’ part of any single charge against him; if such proof were forthcoming, Oppius, though now only a private citizen, might repeat all his cruelty towards him. Oppius was taken to prison and there, before the day of trial, he put an end to his life. His property and that of Claudius were confiscated by the tribunes. Their colleagues changed their domicile by going into exile; their property also was confiscated. M. Claudius, who had been the claimant of Verginia, was tried and condemned; Verginius himself, however, refused to press for the extreme penalty, so he was allowed to go into exile to Tibur. Verginia was more fortunate after her death than in her lifetime; her shade, after wandering through so many houses in quest of expiatory penalties, at length found rest, not one guilty person being now left.
Great alarm seized the patricians; the looks of the tribunes were now as menacing as those of the decemvirs had been. M. Duillius the tribune imposed a salutary check upon their excessive exercise of authority. “We have gone,” he said, “far enough in the assertion of our liberty and the punishment of our opponents, so for this year I will allow no man to be brought to trial or cast into prison. I disapprove of old crimes, long forgotten, being raked up, now that the recent ones have been atoned for by the punishment of the decemvirs. The unceasing care which both the consuls are taking to protect your liberties is a guarantee that nothing will be done which will call for the power of the tribunes.” This spirit of moderation shown by the tribune relieved the fears of the patricians, but it also intensified their resentment against the consuls, for they seemed to be so wholly devoted to the plebs, that the safety and liberty of the patricians were a matter of more immediate concern to the plebeian than they were to the patrician magistrates. It seemed as though their adversaries would grow weary of inflicting punishment on them sooner than the consuls would curb their insolence. It was pretty generally asserted that they had shown weakness, since their laws had been sanctioned by the senate, and no doubt was entertained that they had yielded to the pressure of circumstances.
After matters had been settled in the City and the position of the plebs firmly assured, the consuls left for their respective provinces. Valerius wisely suspended operations against the combined forces of the Aequi and Volscians. If he had at once hazarded an engagement, I question whether, considering the temper of both the Romans and the enemy after the inauspicious leadership of the decemvirs, he would not have incurred a serious defeat. Taking up a position about a mile from the enemy, he kept his men in camp. The enemy formed up for battle, and filled the space between the camps, but their challenge met with no response from the Romans. Tired at last of standing and vainly waiting for battle, and regarding victory as practically conceded to them, the two nations marched away to ravage the territories of the Hernici and Latins. The force left behind was sufficient to guard the camp, but not to sustain an action. On seeing this the consul made them in their turn feel the terror which they had inspired, drew up his men in order of battle and challenged them to fight. As, conscious of their reduced strength, they declined an engagement, the courage of the Romans at once rose, and they looked upon the men who kept timidly within their lines as already defeated. After standing the whole day eager to engage, they retired at nightfall; the enemy in a very different state of mind sent men hurriedly in all directions to recall the plundering parties; those in the neighbourhood hastened back to camp, the more distant ones were not traced. As soon as it grew light, the Romans marched out, prepared to storm their camp if they did not give them the chance of a battle. When the day was far advanced without any movement on the part of the enemy, the consul gave the order to advance. As the line moved forward, the Aequi and Volscians, indignant at the prospect of their victorious armies being protected by earthworks rather than by courage and arms, clamoured for the signal for battle. It was given, and part of their force had already emerged from the gate of the camp, whilst others were coming down in order and taking up their allotted positions, but before the enemy could mass his whole strength in the field the Roman consul delivered his attack. They had not all marched out of the camp, those who had done so were not able to deploy into line, and crowded together as they were, they began to waver and sway. Whilst they looked round helplessly at each other, undecided what to do, the Romans raised their war-cry, and at first the enemy gave ground, then, when they had recovered their presence of mind and their generals were appealing to them not to give way before those whom they had defeated, the battle was restored.
On the other side the consul bade the Romans remember that on that day for the first time they were fighting as free men on behalf of a free Rome. It was for themselves that they would conquer, the fruits of their victory would not go to decemvirs. The battle was not being fought under an Appius, but under their consul Valerius, a descendant of the liberators of the Roman people, and a liberator himself. They must show that it was owing to the generals, not to the soldiers, that they had failed to conquer in former battles; it would be a disgrace if they showed more courage against their own citizens than against a foreign foe, or dreaded slavery at home more than abroad. It was only Verginia whose chastity was imperilled, only Appius whose licentiousness was dangerous, in a time of peace, but if the fortune of war should turn against them, every one’s children would be in danger from all those thousands of enemies. He would not forebode disasters which neither Jupiter nor Mars their Father would permit to a City founded under those happy auspices. He reminded them of the Aventine and the Sacred Hill, and besought them to carry back unimpaired dominion to that spot where a few months before they had won their liberties. They must make it clear that Roman soldiers possessed the same qualities now that the decemvirs were expelled which they had before they were created, and that Roman courage was not weakened by the fact that the laws were equal for all.
After this address to the infantry, he galloped up to the cavalry. “Come, young men,” he shouted, “prove yourselves superior to the infantry in courage, as you are superior to them in honour and rank. They dislodged the enemy at the first onset, do you ride in amongst them and drive them from the field. They will not stand your charge, even now they are hesitating rather than resisting.” With slackened rein, they spurred their horses against the enemy already shaken by the infantry encounter, and sweeping through their broken ranks were carried to the rear. Some, wheeling round in the open ground, rode across and headed off the fugitives who were everywhere making for the camp. The line of infantry with the consul in person and the whole of the battle rolled in the same direction; they got possession of the camp with an immense loss to the enemy, but the booty was still greater than the carnage. The news of this battle was carried not only to the City, but to the other army amongst the Sabines. In the City it was celebrated with public rejoicings, but in the other camp it fired the soldiers to emulation. By employing them in incursions and testing their courage in skirmishes, Horatius had trained them to put confidence in themselves instead of brooding over the disgrace incurred under the leadership of the decemvirs, and this had gone far to make them hope for ultimate success. The Sabines, emboldened by their success of the previous year, were incessantly provoking them and urging them to fight, and wanting to know why they were wasting their time in petty incursions and retreats like banditti, and fettering away the effort of one decisive action in a number of insignificant engagements. Why, they tauntingly asked, did they not meet them in a pitched battle and trust once for all to the fortune of war?
The Romans had not only recovered their courage, but they were burning with indignation. The other army, they said, was about to return to the City in triumph, whilst they were exposed to the taunts of an insolent foe. When would they ever be a match for the enemy if they were not now? The consul became aware of these murmurings of discontent and after summoning the soldiers to an assembly, addressed them as follows: “How the battle was fought on Algidus, soldiers, I suppose you have heard. The army behaved as the army of a free people ought to behave. The victory was won by the generalship of my colleague and the bravery of his soldiers. As far as I am concerned, I am ready to adopt that plan of operations which you, my soldiers, have the courage to execute. The war may either be prolonged with advantage or brought to an early close. If it is to be protracted I shall continue the method of training which I have begun, so that your spirits and courage may rise day by day. If you want it brought to a decisive issue, come now, raise such a shout as you will raise in battle as a proof of your willingness and courage.” After they had raised the shout with great alacrity, he assured them that, with the blessing of heaven, he would comply with their wishes and lead them out to battle on the morrow. The rest of the day was spent in getting their armour and weapons ready. No sooner did the Sabines see the Romans forming in order of battle the next morning than they also advanced to an engagement which they had long been eager for. The battle was such as would be expected between armies both of which were full of self-confidencethe one proud of its old and unbroken renown, the other flushed with its recent victory. The Sabines called strategy to their aid, for, after giving their line an extent equal to that of the enemy, they kept 2000 men in reserve to make an impression on the Roman left when the battle was at its height. By this flank attack they had almost surrounded and were beginning to overpower that wing, when the cavalry of the two legionsabout 600 strongsprang from their horses and rushed to the front to support their comrades who were now giving way. They checked the enemy’s advance and at the same time roused the courage of the infantry by sharing their danger, and appealing to their sense of shame, by showing that whilst the cavalry could fight either mounted or on foot, the infantry, trained to fight on foot, were inferior even to dismounted cavalry.
So they resumed the struggle which they were giving up and recovered the ground they had lost, and in a moment not only was the battle restored but the Sabines on that wing were even forced back. The cavalry returned to their horses, protected by the infantry through whose ranks they passed, and galloped off to the other wing to announce their success to their comrades. At the same time they made a charge on the enemy, who were now demoralised through the defeat of their strongest wing. None showed more brilliant courage in that battle. The consul’s eyes were everywhere, he commended the brave, had words of rebuke wherever the battle seemed to slacken. Those whom he censured displayed at once the energy of brave men, they were stimulated by a sense of shame, as much as the others by his commendation. The battle-cry was again raised, and by one united effort on the part of the whole army they repulsed the enemy; the Roman attack could no longer be withstood. The Sabines were scattered in all directions through the fields, and left their camp as a spoil to the enemy. What the Romans found there was not the property of their allies, as had been the case on Algidus, but their own, which had been lost in the ravaging of their homesteads. For this double victory, won in two separate battles, the senate decreed thanksgivings on behalf of the consuls, but their jealousy restricted them to one day. The people, however, without receiving orders, went on the second day also in vast crowds to the temples, and this unauthorised and spontaneous thanksgiving was celebrated with almost greater enthusiasm than the former.
The consuls had mutually agreed to approach the City during these two days and convene a meeting of the senate in the Campus Martius. Whilst they were making their report there on the conduct of the campaigns, the leaders of the senate entered a protest against their session being held in the midst of the troops, in order to intimidate them. To avoid any ground for this charge the consuls immediately adjourned the senate to the Flaminian Meadows, where the temple of Apollothen called the Apollinarenow stands. The senate by a large majority refused the consuls the honour of a triumph, whereupon L. Icilius, as tribune of the plebs, brought the question before the people. Many came forward to oppose it, particularly C. Claudius, who exclaimed in excited tones that it was over the senate, not over the enemy, that the consuls wished to celebrate their triumph. It was demanded as an act of gratitude for a private service rendered to a tribune, not as an honour for merit. Never before had a triumph been ordered by the people, it had always lain with the senate to decide whether one was deserved or not; not even kings had infringed the prerogative of the highest order in the State. The tribunes must not make their power pervade everything, so as to render the existence of a council of State impossible. The State will only be free, the laws equal, on condition that each order preserves its own rights, its own power and dignity. Much to the same effect was said by the senior members of the senate, but the tribes unanimously adopted the proposal. That was the first instance of a triumph being celebrated by order of the people without the authorisation of the senate.
This victory of the tribunes and the plebs very nearly led to a dangerous abuse of power. A secret understanding was come to amongst the tribunes that they should all be reappointed, and to prevent their factious purpose from being too noticeable, they were to secure a continuance of the consuls in office also. They alleged as a reason the agreement of the senate to undermine the rights of the plebs by the slight they had cast on the consuls. “What,” they argued, “would happen if, before the laws were yet securely established, the patricians should attack fresh tribunes through consuls belonging to their own party? For the consuls would not always be men of the stamp of Valerius and Horatius, who subordinated their own interests to the liberty of the plebs.” By a happy chance it fell to the lot of M. Duillius to preside over the elections. He was a man of sagacity, and foresaw the obloquy that would be incurred by the continuance in office of the present magistrates. On his declaring that he would accept no votes for the former tribunes, his colleagues insisted that he should either leave the tribes free to vote for whom they chose, or else resign the control of the elections to his colleagues, who would conduct them according to law rather than at the will of the patricians. As a contention had arisen, Duillius sent for the consuls and asked them what they intended to do about the consular elections. They replied that they should elect fresh consuls. Having thus gained popular supporters for a measure by no means popular, he proceeded in company with them into the Assembly. Here the consuls were brought forward to the people and the question was put to them, “If the Roman people, remembering how you have recovered their liberty for them at home, remembering, too, your services and achievements in war, should make you consuls a second time, what do you intend to do?” They declared their resolution unchanged, and Duillius, applauding the consuls for maintaining to the last an attitude totally unlike that of the decemvirs, proceeded to hold the election. Only five tribunes were elected, for owing to the efforts of the nine tribunes in openly pushing their canvass, the other candidates could not get the requisite majority of votes. He dismissed the Assembly and did not hold a second election, on the ground that he had satisfied the requirements of the law, which nowhere fixed the number of tribunes, but merely enacted that the office of tribune should not be left vacant. He ordered those who had been elected to co-opt colleagues, and recited the formula which governed the case as follows: “If I require you to elect ten tribunes of the plebs; if on this day you have elected less than ten, then those whom they co-opt shall be lawful tribunes of the plebs by the same law, in like manner as those whom you have this day made tribunes of the plebs.” Duillius persisted in asserting to the last that the commonwealth could not possibly have fifteen tribunes, and he resigned office, after having won the goodwill of patricians and plebeians alike by his frustration of the ambitious designs of his colleagues.
The new tribunes of the plebs studied the wishes of the senate in co-opting colleagues; they even admitted two patricians of consular rank, Sp. Tarpeius and A. Aeternius. The new consuls were Spurius Herminius and T. Verginius Caelimontanus, who were not violent partisans of either the patricians or the plebeians. They maintained peace both at home and abroad. L. Trebonius, a tribune of the plebs, was angry with the senate because, as he said, he had been hoodwinked by them in the co-optation of tribunes, and left in the lurch by his colleagues. He brought in a measure providing that when tribunes of the plebs were to be elected, the presiding magistrate should continue to hold the election until ten tribunes were elected. He spent his year of office in worrying the patricians, which led to his receiving the nickname of “Asper” (i.e. “the Cantankerous"). The next consuls were M. Geganius Macerinus and C. Julius. They appeased the quarrels which had broken out between the tribunes and the younger members of the nobility without interfering with the powers of the former or compromising the dignity of the patricians. A levy had been decreed by the senate for service against the Volscians and Aequi, but they kept the plebs quiet by holding it over, and publicly asserting that when the City was at peace everything abroad was quiet, whereas civil discord encouraged the enemy. Their care for peace led to harmony at home. But the one order was always restless when the other showed moderation. Whilst the plebs was quiet it began to be subjected to acts of violence from the younger patricians. The tribunes tried to protect the weaker side, but they did little good at first, and soon even they themselves were not exempt from ill-treatment, especially in the later months of their year of office. Secret combinations amongst the stronger party resulted in lawlessness, and the exercise of the tribunitian authority usually slackened towards the close of the year. Any hopes the plebeians might place in their tribunes depended upon their having men like Icilius; for the last two years they had had mere names. On the other hand, the older patricians realised that their younger members were too aggressive, but if there were to be excesses they preferred that their own side should commit them rather than their opponents. So difficult is it to observe moderation in the defence of liberty, while each man under the presence of equality raises himself only by keeping others down, and by their very precautions against fear men make themselves feared, and in repelling injury from ourselves we inflict it on others as though there were no alternative between doing wrong and suffering it.
T. Quinctius Capitolinus and Agrippa Furius were the next consuls electedthe former for the fourth time. They found on entering office no disturbances at home nor any war abroad, though both were threatening. The dissensions of the citizens could now no longer be checked, as both the tribunes and the plebs were exasperated against the patricians, owing to the Assembly being constantly disturbed by fresh quarrels whenever one of the nobility was prosecuted. At the first bruit of these outbreaks, the Aequi and Volscians, as though at a given signal, took up arms. Moreover their leaders, eager for plunder, had persuaded them that it had been impossible to raise the levy ordered two years previously, because the plebs refused to obey, and it was owing to this that no armies had been sent against them; military discipline was broken up by insubordination; Rome was no longer looked upon as the common fatherland; all their rage against foreign foes was turned against one another. Now was the opportunity for destroying these wolves blinded by the madness of mutual hatred. With their united forces they first completely desolated the Latin territory; then, meeting with none to check their depredations, they actually approached the walls of Rome, to the great delight of those who had fomented the war. Extending their ravages in the direction of the Esquiline gate, they plundered and harried, through sheer insolence, in the sight of the City. After they had marched back unmolested with their plunder to Corbio, the consul Quinctius convoked the people to an Assembly.
I find that he spoke there as follows: “Though, Quirites, my own conscience is clear, it is, nevertheless, with feelings of the deepest shame that I have come before you. That you should knowthat it will be handed down to posteritythat the Aequi and Volscians, who were lately hardly a match for the Hernici, have in the fourth consulship of T. Quinctius come in arms up to the walls of Rome with impunity! Although we have long been living in such a state, although public affairs are in such a condition, that my mind augurs nothing good, still, had I known that this disgrace was coming in this year, of all others, I would have avoided by exile or by death, had there been no other means of escape, the honour of a consulship. So then, if those arms which were at our gates had been in the hands of men worthy of the name, Rome could have been taken whilst I was consul! I had enough of honours, enough and more than enough of life, I ought to have died in my third consulship. Who was it that those most dastardly foes felt contempt for, us consuls, or you Quirites? If the fault is in us, strip us of an office which we are unworthy to hold, and if that is not enough, visit us with punishment. If the fault is in you, may there be no one, either god or man, who will punish your sins; may you repent of them! It was not your cowardice that provoked their contempt, nor their velour that gave them confidence; they have been too often defeated, put to flight, driven out of their entrenchments, deprived of their territory, not to know themselves and you. It is the dissensions between the two orders, the quarrels between patricians and plebeians that is poisoning the life of this City. As long as our power respects no limits, and your liberty acknowledges no restraints, as long as you are impatient of patrician, we of plebeian magistrates, so long has the courage of our enemies been rising. What in heaven’s name do you want? You set your hearts on having tribunes of the plebs, we yielded, for the sake of peace. You yearned for decemvirs, we consented to their appointment; you grew utterly weary of them, we compelled them to resign. Your hatred pursued them into private life; to satisfy you, we allowed the noblest and most distinguished of our order to suffer death or go into exile. You wanted tribunes of the plebs to be appointed again; you have appointed them. Although we saw how unjust it was to the patricians that men devoted to your interests should be elected consuls, we have seen even that patrician office conferred by favour of the plebs. The tribunes’ protective authority, the right of appeal to the people, the resolutions of the plebs made binding on the patricians, the suppression of our rights and privileges under the pretext of making the laws equal for allthese things we have submitted to, and do submit to. What term is there to be to our dissensions? When shall we ever be allowed to have a united City, when will this ever be our common fatherland? We who have lost, show more calmness and evenness of temper than you who have won. Is it not enough that you have made us fear you? It was against us that the Aventine was seized, against us the Sacred Hill occupied. When the Esquiline is all but captured and the Volscian is trying to scale the rampart, no one dislodges him. Against us you show yourselves men; against us you take up arms.
"Well, then, now that you have beleaguered the Senate-house, and treated the Forum as enemies’ ground, and filled the prison with our foremost men, display the same daring courage in making a sortie from the Esquiline gate, or if you have not the courage even for this, mount the walls and watch your fields disgracefully laid waste with fire and sword, plunder carried off and smoke rising everywhere from your burning dwellings. But I may be told it is the common interests of all that are being injured by this; the land is burned, the City besieged, all the honours of war rest with the enemy. Good heavens! In what condition are your own private interests? Every one of you will have losses reported to him from the fields. What, pray, is there at home from which to make them good? Will the tribunes restore and repay you for what you have lost? They will contribute any amount you like of talk and words and accusations against the leading men, and law after law, and meetings of the Assembly. But from those meetings not a single one of you will ever go home the richer. Who has ever brought back to his wife and children anything but resentment and hatred, party strife and personal quarrels, from which you are to be protected not by your own courage and honesty of purpose, but by the help of others? But, let me tell you, when you were campaigning under us your consuls, not under tribunes, in the camp not in the Forum, and your battle-cry appalled the enemy in the field, not the patricians of Rome in the Assembly, then you obtained booty, took territory from the enemy, and returned to your homes and household gods in triumph, laden with wealth and covered with glory both for the State and for yourselves. Now you allow the enemy to depart laden with your property. Go on, stick to your Assembly meetings, pass your lives in the Forum, still the necessity, which you shirk, of taking the field follows you. It was too much for you to go out against the Aequi and Volscians; now the war is at your gates. If it is not beaten back, it will be within the walls, it will scale the Citadel and the Capitol and follow you into your homes. It is two years since the senate ordered a levy to be raised and an army led out to Algidus; we are still sitting idly at home, wrangling with one another like a troop of women, delighted with the momentary peace, and shutting our eyes to the fact that we shall very soon have to pay for our inaction many times over in war.
“I know that there are other things pleasanter to speak about than these, but necessity compels me, even if a sense of duty did not, to say what is true instead of what is agreeable. I should only be too glad, Quirites, to give you pleasure, but I would very much rather have you safe, however you may feel towards me for the future. Nature has so ordered matters that the man who addresses the multitude for his own private ends is much more popular than the man who thinks of nothing but the public good. Possibly, you imagine that it is in your interest that those demagogues who flatter the plebs and do not suffer you either to take up arms or live in peace, excite you and make you restless. They only do so to win notoriety or to make something out of it, and because they see that when the two orders are in harmony they are nowhere, they are willing to be leaders in a bad cause rather than in none, and get up disturbances and seditions. “If there is any possibility of your becoming at last weary of this sort of thing, if you are willing to resume the character which marked your fathers and yourselves in old days, instead of these new-fangled ideas, then there is no punishment I will not submit to, if I do not in a few days drive these destroyers of our fields in confusion and flight out of their camp, and remove from our gates and walls to their cities this dread aspect of war which now so appals you.”
Seldom if ever was speech of popular tribune more favourably received by the plebeians than that of this stern consul. The men of military age who in similar emergencies had made refusal to be enrolled their most effective weapon against the senate, began now to turn their thoughts to arms and war. The fugitives from the country districts, those who had been plundered and wounded in the fields, reported a more terrible state of things than what was visible from the walls, and filled the whole City with a thirst for vengeance. When the senate met, all eyes fumed to Quinctius as the one man who could uphold the majesty of Rome. The leaders of the House declared his speech to be worthy of the position he held as consul, worthy of the many consulships he had previously held, worthy of his whole life, rich as it was in honours, many actually enjoyed, many more deserved. Other consuls, they said, had either flattered the plebs by betraying the authority and privileges of the patricians, or, by insisting too harshly upon the rights of their order, had intensified the opposition of the masses, Titus Quinctius, in his speech, had kept in view the authority of the senate, the concord of the two orders, and, above all, the circumstances of the hour. They begged him and his colleague to take over the conduct of public affairs, and appealed to the tribunes to be of one mind with the consuls in wishing to see the war rolled back from the walls of the City, and inducing the plebs, at such a crisis, to yield to the authority of the senate. Their common fatherland was, they declared, calling on the tribunes and imploring their aid now that their fields were ravaged and the City all but attacked.
By universal consent a levy was decreed and held. The consuls gave public notice that there was no time for investigating claims for exemption, and all the men liable for service were to present themselves the next day in the Campus Martius. When the war was over they would give time for inquiry into the cases of those who had not given in their names, and those who could not prove justification would be held to be deserters. All who were liable to serve appeared on the following day. Each of the cohorts selected their own centurions, and two senators were placed in command of each cohort. We understand that these arrangements were so promptly carried out that the standards, which had been taken from the treasury and carried down to the Campus Martius by the quaestors in the morning, left the Campus at 10 o’clock that same day, and the army, a newly-raised one with only a few cohorts of veterans following as volunteers, halted at the tenth milestone. The next day brought them within sight of the enemy, and they entrenched their camp close to the enemy’s camp at Corbio. The Romans were fired by anger and resentment; the enemy, conscious of their guilt after so many revolts, despaired of pardon. There was consequently no delay in bringing matters to an issue.
In the Roman army the two consuls possessed equal authority. Agrippa, however, voluntarily resigned the supreme command to his colleaguea very beneficial arrangement where matters of great importance are concernedand the latter, thus preferred by the ungrudging selfsuppression of his colleague, courteously responded by imparting to him his plans, and treating him in every way as his equal. When drawn up in battle order, Quinctius commanded the right wing, Agrippa the left. The centre was assigned to Sp. Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general; the other lieutenant-general, P. Sulpicius, was given charge of the cavalry. The infantry on the right wing fought splendidly, but met with stout resistance on the side of the Volscians. P. Sulpicius with his cavalry broke the enemy’s centre. He could have got back to the main body before the enemy re-formed their broken ranks, but he decided to attack from the rear, and would have scattered the enemy in a moment, attacked as they were in front and rear, had not the cavalry of the Volscians and Aequi, adopting his own tactics, intercepted him and kept him for some time engaged. He shouted to his men that there was no time to lose, they would be surrounded and cut off from their main body if they did not do their utmost to make a finish of the cavalry fight; it was not enough simply to put them to flight, they must dispose of both horses and men, that none might return to the field or renew the fighting. They could not resist those before whom a serried line of infantry had given way.
His words did not fall on deaf ears. In one shock they routed the whole of the cavalry, hurled a vast number from their seats, and drove their lances into the horses. That was the end of the cavalry fight. Next they made a rear attack on the infantry, and when their line began to waver they sent a report to the consuls of what they had done. The news gave fresh courage to the Romans, who were now winning, and dismayed the retreating Aequi. Their defeat began in the centre, where the cavalry charge had thrown them into disorder. Then the repulse of the left wing by the consul Quinctius commenced. The right wing gave more trouble. Here Agrippa, whose age and strength made him fearless, seeing that things were going better in all parts of the field than with him, seized standards from the standard-bearers and advanced with them himself, some he even began to throw amongst the masses of the enemy. Roused at the fear and disgrace of losing them, his men made a fresh charge on the enemy, and in all directions the Romans were equally successful. At this point a message came from Quinctius that he was victorious, and was now threatening the enemy’s camp, but would not attack it till he knew that the action on the left wing was decided. If Agrippa had defeated the enemy he was to join him, so that the whole army might together take possession of the spoil. The victorious Agrippa, amidst mutual congratulations, proceeded to his colleague and the enemy’s camp. The few defenders were routed in a moment and the entrenchment forced without any resistance. The army was marched back to camp after securing immense spoil and recovering their own property which had been lost in the ravaging of their lands. I cannot find that a triumph was either demanded by the consuls or granted by the senate; nor is any reason recorded for this honour having been either not expected or not thought worth asking for. As far as I can conjecture after such an interval of time, the reason would appear to be that as a triumph was refused by the senate to the consuls Valerius and Horatius, who, apart from the Volscians and Aequi, had won the distinction of bringing the Sabine war to a close, the present consuls were ashamed to ask for a triumph for doing only half as much, lest, if they did obtain it, it might appear to be out of consideration for the men more than for their services.
This honourable victory won from an enemy was sullied by a disgraceful decision of the people respecting the territory of their allies. The inhabitants of Aricia and Ardea had frequently gone to war over some disputed land; tired at last of their many reciprocal defeats, they referred the matter to the arbitrament of Rome. The magistrates convened an Assembly on their behalf, and when they had come to plead their cause, the debate was conducted with much warmth. When the evidence was concluded and the time came for the tribes to be called upon to vote, P. Scaptius, an aged plebeian, rose and said, “If, consuls, I am allowed to speak on matters of high policy, I will not suffer the people to go wrong in this matter.” The consuls refused him a hearing, as being a man of no credit, and when he loudly exclaimed that the commonwealth was being betrayed they ordered him to be removed. He appealed to the tribunes. The tribunes, who are almost always ruled by the multitude more than they rule them, finding that the plebs were anxious to hear him, gave Scaptius permission to say what he wanted. So he began by saying that he was now in his eighty-third year and had seen service in that country which was now in dispute, not as a young man but as a veteran of twenty years’ standing, when the war was going on against Corioli. He therefore alleged as a fact, forgotten through lapse of time, but deeply imprinted in his own memory, that the disputed land formed part of the territory of Corioli, and when that city was taken, became by the right of war part of the State domain of Rome. The Ardeates and Aricians had never claimed it while Corioli was unconquered, and he was wondering how they could hope to filch it from the people of Rome, whom they had made arbiters instead of rightful owners. He had not long to live, but he could not, old as he was, bring himself to refrain from using the only means in his power, namely, his voice, in order to assert the right to that territory which as a soldier he had done his best to win. He earnestly advised the people not to pronounce, from a false feeling of delicacy, against a cause which was really their own.
When the consuls saw that Scaptius was listened to not only in silence but even with approval, they called gods and men to witness that a monstrous injustice was being perpetrated, and sent for the leaders of the senate. Accompanied by them they went amongst the tribes and implored them not to commit the worst of crimes and establish a still worse precedent by perverting justice to their own advantage. Even supposing it were permissible for a judge to look after his own interest, they would certainly never gain by appropriating the disputed territory as much as they would lose by estranging the feelings of their allies through their injustice. The damage done to their good name and credit would be incalculable. Were the envoys to carry back this to their home, was it to go out to the world, was it to reach the ears of their allies and of their enemies? With what pain the former would receive it, with what joy the latter! Did they suppose that the surrounding nations would fix the responsibility for it on Scaptius, a mob-orator in his dotage? To him it might be a patent of nobility, but on the Roman people it would stamp a character for trickery and fraud. For what judge has ever dealt with a private suit so as to adjudge to himself the property in dispute? Even Scaptius would not do that, although he has outlived all sense of shame. In spite of these earnest appeals which the consuls and senators made, cupidity and Scaptius its instigator prevailed. The tribes, when called upon to vote, decided that it was part of the public domain of Rome. It is not denied that the result would have been the same had the case gone before other judges, but as it is, the disgrace attaching to the judgment is not in the least degree lightened by any justice in the case, nor did it appear more ugly and tyrannical to the people of Aricia and Ardea than it did to the Roman senate. The rest of the year remained undisturbed both at home and abroad.