Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III. - The History of Rome, Vol. 1
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BOOK III. - Titus Livius (Livy), The History of Rome, Vol. 1 [10 AD]
The History of Rome by Titus Livius. Translated from the Original with Notes and Illustrations by George Baker, A.M.. First American, from the Last London Edition, in Six Volumes (New York: Peter A. Mesier et al., 1823). Vol. 1.
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Dissensions about the agrarian laws. The Capitol seized by exiles and slaves. Quintius Cincinnatus called from the cultivation of his farm, to conduct a war against the Æquans; vanquishes them and makes them pass under the yoke. The number of the tribunes of the people augmented to ten. Ten magistrates, called decemvirs, invested with the authority of the consuls, and of all other magistrates, are appointed for the purpose of digesting and publishing a body of laws. These having promulgated a code of laws, contained in ten tables, obtain a continuation of their authority for another year, during which, they add two more to the former ten tables. They refuse to resign their office and retain it a third year. At first they act equitably and justly; afterwards, arbitrarily and tyrannically. At length the commons, provoked by a base attempt of one of them, Appius Claudius, to violate the chastity of a daughter of Virginius, seize upon the Aventine mount, and compel them to resign. Appius and Oppius, two of the most obnoxious, are thrown into prison, where they put an end to their own lives; the rest are banished. War with the Sabines, Volscians, and Æquans. Unjust determination of the Roman people, who, being chosen arbitrators in an affair between the people of Ardea and Aricia, concerning some disputed lands, adjudge them to themselves.
Y. R. 287. 465.I. Soon after the taking of Antium, Titus Æmilius and Quintus Fabius were elected consuls. This Quintus was the single one of the Fabii who remained alive when the family were cut off at the Cremera. Æmilius had before, in his former consulate, recommended the distribution of lands among the commons: now, therefore, on his being a second time invested with that office, those, who expected the lands, conceived sanguine hopes of the law being passed. The tribunes, supposing that an affair for which such struggles had often been made, in opposition to both the consuls, might probably be accomplished now, when one of those magistrates was an advocate for it, set the business on foot; and the consul continued in the same sentiments. The possessors of the lands, and most of the patricians, complaining loudly that a person at the head of the state aimed to distinguish himself by intrigues more becoming a tribune courting popularity, by making donations out of other people’s property, removed the odium of the whole transaction from the tribunes to the consul. A desperate contest would have ensued, had not Fabius struck out an expedient to prevent it, by a plan disagreeable to neither party; which was, that, as a considerable tract of land had been taken from the Volscians in the preceding year, under the conduct and auspices of Titus Quintius, a colony should be led off to Antium, a town at no great distance, convenient in every respect, and a sea-port; by these means, the commons might come in for lands, without any complaints from the present possessors at home, and harmony might be preserved in the state. This proposition was approved of, and he had commissioners, called triumvirs, appointed to distribute the same; these were Titus Quintius, A. Virginius, and Publius Furius; and such as chose to accept of those lands, were ordered to give in their names. The gratification of their wishes, as is generally the case, instantly begat disgust; and so few subscribed to the proposal, that, to fill up the colony, they were obliged to take in a number of the Volscians. The rest of the populace chose rather to prosecute claims of land at Rome, than to receive immediate possession of it elsewhere. The Æquans sued to Quintus Fabius for peace, for he had gone against them with an army; yet they themselves broke it, by a sudden incursion into the Latine territories.
Y. R. 288. 464.II. In the year following, Quintus Servilius, who was consul with Spurius Postumius, being sent against the Æquans, fixed his camp in the Latine territory, a post which he intended to retain. Here the troops were compelled, by sickness, to remain inactive within their lines; by which means the war was protracted to the third year, in which Quintus Fabius and Titus Quintius were consuls.Y. R. 289. 463. As Fabius, in consequence of his former successes there, had granted peace to the Æquans, that province was now particularly assigned to him. He set out with confident expectations, that the splendor of his name would be sufficient to induce the Æquans to put an end to hostilities, and sent ambassadors to the general meeting of that nation, with orders to tell them, that “Quintus Fabius, consul, gave them notice, that, as he had brought peace to Rome from the Æquans, so now he brought war to the Æquans from Rome; having armed for war the same hand which he had formerly given to them as a pledge of peace. Which of the parties had, by perjury and perfidy, given occasion to this rupture, was known to the gods, who would soon prove avengers of the crime: yet, notwithstanding this, he was still more desirous that the Æquans should, of their own accord, repent of their misconduct, than suffer the evils of war. If they repented, they should find safety in that clemency which they had already experienced: if they chose to persist in a conduct which involved them in the guilt of perjury, they must expect, in the progress of the war, to find the resentment of the gods even greater than that of their enemies.” So far were these declarations from producing the desired effect on them, that the ambassadors narrowly escaped ill-treatment, and an army was sent to Algidum against the Romans. When the news of these transactions was brought to Rome, the indignity of the affair, rather than the danger, called out the other consul from the city, and the two consular armies advanced to the enemy in order of battle, prepared for an immediate engagement. But this happening rather late in the day, a person called out from one of the enemy’s posts, “Romans, this is making an ostentatious parade, not waging war: ye draw up your forces for battle, when night is at hand. We require a greater length of day-light to decide the contest which is to come on: return into the field to-morrow at sun-rise; ye shall have an opportunity of fighting, doubt it not.” The soldiers were led back into camp until the next day, highly irritated by those expressions, and thinking the approaching night would appear too long, which was to occasion a delay to the combat: the intervening hours, however, they employed in refreshing themselves with food and sleep. Next morning, as soon as it was light, the Roman army were the first, by a considerable time, to take their post in the field. At length, the Æquans also came forward. The battle was fought with great fury on both sides, for the Romans were stimulated both by anger and hatred, while the Æquans, conscious that the dangers to which they were exposed were the consequence of their own crimes, and despairing of ever being treated with confidence in future, felt a necessity of making the most desperate exertions. However, they were not able to withstand the Roman troops. They were driven from the field, and retreated to their own territories; where the outrageous multitude, not at all the more disposed to peace from their failure, censured their leaders for having hazarded success in a pitched battle; a manner of fighting in which the Romans possessed superior skill. The Æquans, they said, were better fitted for predatory expeditions; and there was greater reason to hope for success, from a number of detached parties acting separately, than from one army of unwieldy bulk.
III. Leaving therefore a guard in the camp, they marched out, and fell upon the Roman frontiers with such fury, as to carry terror even to the city. Such an event caused the greater uneasiness, because it was entirely unexpected; for nothing could be less apprehended, than that a vanquished enemy, almost besieged in their camp, should entertain a thought of committing depredations. The country people, in a panic, pouring into the gates, and, in the excess of their fright, exaggerating every thing, cried out, that they were not small ravaging parties, nor employed in plundering; but that the legions, and the entire army of the enemy, were approaching, marching rapidly towards the city, and prepared for an assault. The first who heard these rumours, spread them about among others, unauthenticated as they were, and therefore the more liable to exaggeration; which caused such a hurry and confused clamour, every one calling to arms, as, in some measure, resembled the consternation of a city taken by storm. Luckily Quintius the consul had returned from Algidum; this proved a remedy for their fears; he calmed the tumult, upbraiding them with being afraid of a vanquished people, and posted guards at the gates. He then convened the senate, and having, by their directions, issued a proclamation for a cessation of all civil business,* marched out to protect the frontiers, leaving Quintus Servilius to command in the city; but he found no enemy in the country. The other consul encountered the Æquans with extraordinary success; for he attacked them on the road while heavily laden with booty, which so embarrassed their motions, as to render them unfit for action, and took severe revenge for the devastations which they had committed. He succeeded so effectually, that few made their escape, and the whole of the booty was recovered. On this the consul Quintius returned to the city, and took off the prohibition of business, when it had continued four days. The general survey was then held, and the lustrum was closed by Quintius;* the number of citizens rated in the survey, being one hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and fourteen, besides the orphans of both sexes. Nothing memorable passed afterwards in the country of the Æquans: they took shelter in their towns, abandoning their surrounding possessions to fire and devastation. The consul, after having repeatedly carried hostilities and depredations through every part of the enemy’s country, returned to Rome with great glory, and abundance of spoil.
Y. R. 290. 462.IV. The next consuls were Aulus Postumius Albus and Spurius Furius Fusus. The Furii, some writers have called Fusii: this I mention, lest any should think there was a difference in the persons, when it is only in the name. There was no doubt entertained, but that one of the consuls would march an army against the Æquans; these, therefore, requested assistance from the Volscians of Ecetra, who gladly complied with the request; and so inveterate was the hatred which those states bore towards the Romans, that they eagerly vied with each other, in making the most vigorous preparations for war. This coming to the knowledge of the Hernicians, they gave notice to the Romans, that the people of Ecetra had revolted to the Æquans. The colony of Antium was also suspected, because on that town being taken, a great multitude had fled thence for refuge to the Æquans; and while the war with that people lasted, these proved the most valiant soldiers in their army. Afterwards, when the Æquans were driven into their towns, this rabble withdrawing privately, and returning to Antium, seduced the colonists there, from their allegiance to the Romans, which, even before that time, was not much to be relied on. Before the business was yet ripe, on the first information being laid before the senate of their intention to revolt, directions were given to the consuls to send for the heads of the colony, and inquire into the truth of the matter. These having readily attended, and being introduced to the senate by the consuls, answered the questions put to them in such a manner, that the suspicions against them were stronger when they were dismissed, than before they came. War was then considered as inevitable. Spurius Furius, to whose lot that province had fallen, marching against the Æquans, found the enemy in the country of the Hernicians, employed in collecting plunder; and, being ignorant of their numbers, because they had never been seen all together, he rashly hazarded an engagement, though his army was very unequal to the forces of the enemy. At the first onset, he was driven from his ground, and obliged to retreat to his tents; nor did the misfortune end there: in the course of the next night, and the following day, his camp was surrounded on all sides, and attacked so vigorously, that there was no possibility even of sending a messenger from thence to Rome. The Hernicians brought an account both of the defeat, and of the consul and the army being besieged, which struck the senate with such dismay, that by a decree, in that form which has been always deemed to be appropriated to cases of extreme exigency, the other consul Postumius was charged to “take care, that the commonwealth should receive no detriment.” It was judged most expedient, that the consul himself should remain at Rome, in order to enlist all who were able to bear arms; and that Titus Quintius should be sent as proconsul to the relief of the camp, with an army composed of the allies; to complete the number of which, the Latines, Hernicians, and the colony at Antium, were ordered to supply Quintius with subitary soldiers; this was the appellation then given to auxiliaries called out on a sudden emergency.
V. For some time there was a great variety of movements, and many attempts made, both on one side and on the other; for the enemy, relying on their superiority in number, endeavoured to weaken the force of the Romans, by obliging them to divide it into many parts, in hopes that it would prove insufficient to withstand them on every different quarter. At the same time that the siege of the camp was carried on, a part of their forces was sent to ravage the lands of the Romans, and to attempt even Rome itself, if a favourable occasion should offer. Lucius Valerius was left to guard the city, and the consul Postumius was sent to protect the frontiers from the enemy’s incursions. No degree of vigilance and activity was left unemployed in any particular: watches were stationed in the town, out-posts before the gates, and guards along the walls; and, as was necessary in a time of such general confusion, a cessation of civil business was observed for several days. Meanwhile at the camp, the consul Furius, after having endured the siege for some time, without making any effort, burst forth, from the Decuman gate,* on the enemy, when they least expected him; and though he might have pursued their flying troops with advantage, yet, fearing lest an attack might be made on the camp from the opposite side, he halted. Another Furius, who was a lieutenant-general, and brother to the consul, hastily pushed forward too far; and so eagerly intent was he on the pursuit, that he neither perceived his own party retreating, nor the enemy intercepting him behind: being thus shut out from assistance, and having often in vain essayed, by every kind of effort, to open himself a passage, he fell, fighting with great bravery. The consul on the other hand, hearing that his brother was surrounded, turned back on the enemy, and while, forgetting all caution, he rushed too precipitately into the thick of the fight, he received a wound, and was, not without difficulty, carried off by his attendants. This both damped the courage of his own men, and rendered the enemy more daring; and so highly were the latter elated by the death of the lieutenant-general, and the consul’s being wounded, that no force could afterwards withstand them, so as to prevent their driving the Romans back to their camp, and compelling them to submit again to a siege, with both strength and hopes considerably diminished; they were even in danger of utter destruction, had not Titus Quintius, with the troops supplied by the Latines and Hernicians, come to their relief. He attacked the Æquans on their rear, whilst their attention was employed on the Roman camp, and as they were insultingly exhibiting to view the head of the lieutenant-general; and a sally being made from the camp at the same time, on a signal given by him at some distance, a great number of the enemy were surrounded and cut off. Of the Æquans who were employed in the Roman territories, the number slain was less, but their defeat and dispersion was more complete. Being divided into separate parties, and busied in collecting plunder, they were attacked by Postumius in several places, where he had posted troops in convenient situations; when, not knowing what course to take, and pursuing their flight in great disorder, they fell in with Quintius, who, after his victory, was returning home with the wounded consul. Then did the consular army, exerting themselves with extraordinary alacrity, take full vengeance for the consul’s wound, and for the loss of the lieutenant-general and the cohorts. Many heavy losses were sustained on both sides in the course of that campaign: but it is difficult, at this distance of time, to assign, with any degree of certainty, the precise number of those who were engaged, and of those who fell. Yet Valerius Antias undertakes to estimate them, affirming that, of the Romans, there fell in the country of the Hernicians five thousand three hundred; that, of the plundering parties of the Æquans, who spread themselves over the Roman territories, two thousand four hundred were slain by the consul Aulus Postumius; that the other body of them, who, while they were carrying off the spoil, fell in with Quintius, escaped not without a much greater loss, there being slain of these, four thousand (and pretending exactness, he adds) two hundred and thirty. After this, the troops returned to Rome, and the order for cessation of civil business was discharged. The sky appeared as on fire in many places, and other portents either occurred to people’s sight, or were formed by terror in their imaginations. To avert the evils which these foreboded, a proclamation was issued for a solemn festival, to be observed for three days, during which all the temples were filled with crowds, both of men and women, supplicating the favour of the gods. The cohorts of the Latines and Hernicians were then dismissed by the senate to their respective homes, with thanks for their spirited behaviour. During the campaign, a thousand men, who came from Antium after the battle, but too late to be of any service, were sent off in a manner little less than ignominious.
Y. R. 291. 461.VI. The elections were then held, and Lucius Æbutius and Publius Servilius being chosen consuls, entered on their office, on the calends of August, which was at that time considered as the beginning of the year with respect to them. This was a season of great distress; for, during this year, a pestilential disorder spread itself, not only through the city, but over the country, affecting both men and cattle with equal malignity; the violence of the disorder was increased by admitting into the city the cattle, and also the inhabitants of the country, who fled thither for shelter from the enemy’s ravages. Such a collection of animals of every kind nearly suffocated the citizens by the intolerable stench; while the country people, crowded together in narrow apartments, suffered no less from the heat, the want of rest, and their attendance on each other; besides which, mere contact served to propagate the infection. While they could scarcely support the weight of the calamities under which they laboured ambassadors from the Hernicians suddenly arrived with intelligence, that the Æquans and Volscians in conjunction had encamped in their territory, and from thence were ravaging the country with very numerous forces. Besides the proof, which the thinness of the senate afforded to the observation of the allies, of the low state to which the commonwealth was reduced by the pestilence, the answer which they received, demonstrated a great dejection of spirits: that “the Hernicians themselves, with the assistance of the Latines, must provide for their own safety. That the city of Rome, through the sudden anger of the gods, was depopulated by sickness. If they (the Romans) should find any respite from that calamity, they would, as they had done the year before, and on all occasions, give assistance to their allies.” Thus the ambassadors departed, carrying home the most sorrowful intelligence; as they now found themselves obliged, with their own single strength, to support a war, to which they had hardly been equal, even when assisted by the power of Rome. The enemy remained not long in the country of the Hernicians, but proceeded thence, with hostile intentions, into the Roman territory; which, without the injuries of war, was now become a desert. Without meeting there one human being even unarmed, and finding every place through which they passed destitute, not only of troops, but of the culture of the husbandman, they yet came as far as the third stone on the Gabian road. By this time Æbutius the Roman consul was dead, and his colleague Servilius so ill, that there was very little hope of his recovery; most of the leading men were siezed by the distemper, as were the greater part of the patricians, and almost every one of military age, so that they wanted strength, not only to form the expeditions which were requisite in a conjuncture so alarming, but even to mount the guards, where no exertion was necessary. The duty of the watches was performed by such of the senators in person, as by their age and strength were qualified for it: the care of posting and visiting these, was intrusted to the plebeian ædiles; on them devolved the whole administration of affairs, and the dignity of the consular authority.
VII. The commonwealth in this forlorn state, without a head, without strength, was saved from destruction by its guardian deities, who inspired the Volscians and Æquans with the spirit of banditti, rather than of warriors; for so far were they from conceiving any hope, either of mastering, or even of approaching the walls of Rome, and such an effect had the distant view of the houses and adjacent hills, to divert their thoughts from the attempt, that murmurs spread through all the camp, each asking the other, why they should throw away their time without employment, and without booty, in a waste and desert country, among the putrid carcases of men and cattle; when they might repair to places that had felt no distress; to the territory of Tusculum, where every kind of opulence abounded?” and accordingly, they hastily put themselves in motion, and, crossing the country, passed on through the territory of Lavici, to the Tusculan hills; and to that quarter was the whole storm and violence of the war directed. Meanwhile, the Hernicians and Latines, prompted not only by compassion, but also by the shame which they must incur, if they neither gave opposition to the common enemy, marching to attack the city of Rome, nor even when their allies were besieged, afforded them any assistance, united their forces, and proceeded to Rome. Not finding the enemy there, and pursuing their tracks by such intelligence as they could procure, they met them coming down from the heights of Tusculum to the Alban vale. There an engagement ensued, in which they were by no means a match for the combined forces, and the fidelity of the allies proved, for the present unfortunate to them. The mortality occasioned by the distemper at Rome was not less than what the sword caused among the allies. The consul Servilius, with many other illustrious persons, died: namely, Marcus Valerius and Titus Virginius Rutilus, augurs; Servius Sulpicius, principal curio; while, among persons of inferior note the virulence of the disorder spread its ravages on every side. The senate, unable to discover a prospect of relief in any human means, directed the people to have recourse to vows and to the deities: they were ordered to go, with their wives and children, to offer supplications and implore the favour of the gods; and all being thus called out by public authority, to perform what each man was strongly urged to by his own private calamities, they quickly filled the places of worship. In every temple, the prostrate matrons, sweeping the ground with their hair, implored a remission of the displeasure of heaven, and deliverance from the pestilence.
VIII. From that time, whether it was owing to the gods having become propitious, or to the more unhealthy season of the year being now past, the people began to find their health gradually restored. And now their attention being turned to public business, several interregna having expired, Publius Valerius Publicola, on the third day after he had entered on the office of interrex,Y. R. 292. 460. caused Lucius Lucretius Tricipitinus and Titus Veturius, or Vetusius, Geminus to be elected consuls. These assumed their office on the third of the ides of August, at which time the state had recovered its strength so far as to be able not only to repel an attack but to act offensively on occasion. Wherefore, on the Hernicians sending information, that the enemy had made an irruption into their frontiers, they cheerfully promised to assist them. Two consular armies were raised. Veturius was sent to carry on an offensive war against the Volscians. Tricipitinus being appointed to protect the territories of the allies from all incursions, proceeded no farther than the country of the Hernicians. Veturius, in the first engagement, routed and dispersed his enemy. While Lucretius lay encamped among the Hernicians, a party of plunderers, unobserved by him, marched over the Prænestine mountains, and from thence descended into the plains. These laid waste all the country about Præneste and Gabii, and from the latter turned their course towards the high grounds of Tusculum. Even Rome was very much alarmed, more so by the unexpectedness of the affair, than that they wanted strength to defend themselves. Quintus Fabius had the command in the city. He armed the young men, posted guards, and soon put every thing into a state of safety and tranquillity. The enemy therefore not daring to approach the walls, but hastily carrying off whatever they could find in the adjacent places, set out on their return, making a long circuit and while their caution relaxed, in proportion as they removed to a greater distance, they fell in with the consul Lucretius, who, having procured intelligence of all their motions, lay with his troops drawn up and impatient for the combat. These the consul, with premeditated resolution, attacked, who, terrified and thrown into disorder by this sudden appearance of danger, and though considerably greater in number, were easily routed and put to flight. He then drove them into deep vallies, from which being surrounded by his troops, it was difficult to escape. On this occasion the Volscian race was nearly extinguished. I find in some histories, that there fell in the field and the pursuit, thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy; that one thousand two hundred and fifty were made prisoners; and that twenty-seven military standards were taken. However, though, in those accounts, the numbers may be somewhat exaggerated, the slaughter certainly was very great. The victorious consul, possessed of an immense booty, returned to his former post. The consuls then made a junction of their forces. The Volscians and Æquans also united their shattered troops. On which ensued the third battle in the course of that campaign. The same good fortune attended the Romans, the enemy being routed with the loss of his camp.
IX. Thus did the course of affairs at Rome return into its former channel, and successes abroad immediately excited commotions at home. Caius Terentillus Arsa was tribune of the people that year. He, taking advantage of the absence of the consuls, as an opportunity favourable to tribunitian intrigues, entertained the commons for several days with railings against the arrogance of the patricians; but levelled his invectives chiefly against the consular government, as possessing an exorbitant degree of power, and intolerable in a free state: “in name,” he said, “it was less odious than regal government; while, in fact, it was rather more oppressive: as, instead of one tyrant, two had been set over them, invested with immoderate and unlimited rule; who, while they themselves were privileged and uncontrolled, directed every terror of the laws, and every kind of severity against the commons. Now, in order to prevent their continuing for ever to possess this arbitrary influence, he would propose, that five commissioners be appointed to compose a set of laws for the regulation of the consular government. Whatever share of authority the people should think proper to intrust in the hands of the consuls, such they should enjoy; but they should not hold their own will and absolute determinations, as law.” When this decree was published, the patricians were filled with dread, lest, in the absence of the consuls, the yoke might be imposed on them: the senate was called together by the præfect of the city, Quintus Fabius, who inveighed against the proposition, and the author of it, with such vehemence, as to omit no kind of threats, or means of intimidation, which could have been applied, had both the consuls, provoked to the highest, stood beside the tribune. He urged, that “this man had lain in ambush, and watching his opportunity, had made an assault on the commonwealth. If the gods, in their anger, had sent a tribune like him, during the last year, while sickness and war raged together, his designs could not have been prevented. When both the consuls were dead, and the enfeebled state lay overwhelmed in universal anarchy and confusion, he would probably have introduced laws for abolishing the consular government, and would have become a leader to the Volscians and Æquans in an attack upon the city. And, after all, where was the occasion for such a law? If a consul, in his behaviour towards the citizens, proved himself arbitrary or cruel, was it not in the tribune’s power to bring him to a trial? to prosecute him, where his judges would be those very persons, against one of whom the injury was committed? His manner of acting tended to render, not the consular government, but the office of tribune, odious and intolerable, because, from being in a state of peace and amity with the patricians, he was forcing it back into the old evil practices. But it was not intended to beseech him to desist from proceeding as he had begun. Of you, the other tribunes,” said Fabius; “we request, that ye will, first of all, consider, that your office was instituted for the protection of individuals, and not for the destruction of any part of the community; that ye were created tribunes of the commons, not foes of the patricians. It reflects as much dishonour on you, as it does concern on us, that the commonwealth should be invaded in the absence of its chief magistrates. Take measures with your colleague, that he may adjourn this business until the arrival of the consuls, ye will not hereby lessen your rights, but ye will lessen the odium which such proceedings must excite. Even the Æquans and Volscians, when the consuls were carried off last year by the sickness, refrained from adding to our afflictions by a cruel and implacable prosecution of war.” The tribunes accordingly made application to Terentillus, and the business being suspended, in appearance, but, in reality, suppressed, the consuls were immediately called home.
X. Lucretius returned with a very great quantity of spoil, and much greater glory. He added to the glory which he had acquired, by exposing, on his arrival, all the spoil in the field of Mars, in order that every one should have an opportunity, during three days, to recognize and carry home his share of the same. The remainder, not having claimants, was sold. All men agreed in opinion, that a triumph was due to the consul; but the consideration of that matter was postponed, because the tribune had renewed his attempts to carry his law; and this was deemed by the consul an affair of more importance. The business was canvassed during several days, both in the senate, and the assembly of the people: at length, the tribune yielded to the weight of the consul’s authority, and desisted. Then was paid to the consul and his army, the honour which they so justly merited. He triumphed over the Volscians and Æquans, his own legions attending him in the procession. To the other consul, was granted the honour of entering the city in ovation,* unattended by the troops. In the following year, the law of Terentillus, supported by the concurrence of all the tribunes, again assailed the consuls.Y. R. 293. 459. These were Publius Volumnius and Servius Sulpicius. In this year the sky appeared on fire, and a violent earthquake happened; it was also now believed that an ox spoke, an incident to which in the last yeat credit had been refused. Among other prodigies, a shower of flesh fell, which, as was reported, was in a great measure intercepted in its fall by a vast number of birds flying about the place, and what escaped them, lay scattered on the ground for several days, without any degree of putrefaction, or being even changed in smell. The books* were consulted by the duumviri presiding over sacred rites, and it was predicted that dangers impended from a concourse of foreigners, that an attack was to be made on the higher parts of the city, and lives lost in consequence; among other things, warning was given, that all seditious practices should be avoided. This the tribunes cried out against, as a forgery, contrived for the purpose of hindering the passing of their law; and matters were tending to a desperate contest; when, lo! that things might revolve in the same circle every year, the Hernicians brought an account, that the Volscians and Æquans, notwithstanding their late defeat, were recruiting their armies; that their chief dependence was upon Antium; that the people of that colony held meetings openly at Ecetra; that they were the first movers of the war, and composed the greatest part of the forces. As soon as this intelligence was communicated to the senate, an order was passed for levying troops, and the consuls were directed to take the management of the war between them, so that one should have the Volscians as his province, the other the Æquans. The tribunes exclaimed loudly to their faces in the Forum that “this Volscian war was but a concerted farce; that the Hernicians had been instructed how to act their part in it; that now the Roman people were not deprived of liberty by manly efforts, but cheated out of it by cunning. That because it was incredible, that the Volscians and Æquans, who were almost exterminated, could of themselves commence hostilities, new enemies had been sought for, and slanders thrown on a loyal colony closely connected with Rome; that the war was proclaimed, indeed, against the unoffending people of Antium, but waged against the commons of Rome, whom they intended to lead out of the city with precipitate haste, loaded with arms, thus wreaking their vengeance on the tribunes by the expulsion and banishment of the citizens. That by these means, and let not people think there was any other design, all efforts in favour of the law would be effectually overpowered, if they did not, before matters proceeded farther, while they were yet at home, and retained the garb of citizens, adopt such measures as would prevent their being driven out of possession of the city, and obliged to submit to the yoke. If they had spirit, they should not want support; the tribunes were all unanimous in their favour; there was no danger, no reason of apprehension from abroad. The gods had taken care the year before, that they might now stand up with safety in defence of their liberty.” Such was the language of the tribunes.
XI. But, on the other side, the consuls, fixing their chairs within view of them, began to proceed in the levy; thither the tribunes hastened, and drew the assembly with them. A few were cited by way of experiment, and immediately outrages commenced. Whenever a lictor, by the consul’s command, laid hold of any person, a tribune ordered him to be set at liberty. Nor did either party confine themselves within the limits of that authority, to which their office entitled them; every measure taken was to be supported by force. The same line of conduct, which the tribunes had observed in obstructing the levy, was followed by the consuls in their opposition to the law, which was brought forward on every day whereon an assembly could be held. The riot was continued by the patricians refusing to withdraw, after the tribunes had ordered the people to proceed to the place of voting. The elder citizens hardly ever attended the meetings on this affair, by reason that they were not regulated by prudence, but abandoned to the direction of rashness and violence; and the consuls generally kept out of the way, lest, in such general confusion, they should expose their dignity to insult. There was a young man, called Cæso Quintius, full of presumption, on account both of the nobility of his descent, and his personal size and strength; to these qualifications bestowed by the gods, he added many warlike accomplishments, and had evinced a considerable degree of eloquence in the Forum, insomuch that no person in the state was deemed to possess greater abilities, either for acting or speaking. This man having placed himself in the midst of the body of the patricians, conspicuous in stature above the rest, and as if he carried in his eloquence and bodily strength, every power of the consulship or dictatorship, withstood by his single efforts the attacks of the tribunes, and the whole popular storm. In consequence of his exertions, the tribunes were often driven out of the Forum, and the commons routed and dispersed. Such of them as came in his way, he caused to be stripped, and otherwise severely handled; so that every one saw, that if he were allowed to proceed in this manner, it would be impossible to carry the law. At this juncture, when the tribunes were almost reduced to despair, Aulus Virginius, one of their body, instituted a criminal prosecution on a capital charge against Cæso. But by this proceeding he rather irritated than repressed his impetuous temper: he thence became the more vehement in his opposition to the law, persecuted the commons, and harassed the tribunes, in a manner, with open hostilities. The prosecutor suffered the accused to run headlong to ruin, and to draw down on himself such a degree of public displeasure, as would serve to inflame men’s minds on the charges which he had brought against him, and in the meantime frequently introduced the law, not so much in hope of carrying it through, as with design to provoke the rashness of Cæso. Many inconsiderate expressions and actions, which often passed on these occasions among the young men, were all, through the general prejudice against him, imputed to Cæso’s violent temper. The law, however, was still opposed, and Aulus Virginius frequently observed to the people, “Do ye not perceive, Romans, that it is impossible for you to have, at the same time, Cæso among the number of your citizens, and this law which ye wish for? Though why do I speak of this law? Your liberty is endangered by him; he surpasses, in tyrannical pride, all the Tarquinii together: wait until he is made consul or dictator, whom ye now behold in a private station, exerting all the prerogatives of royalty.” He was supported in these invectives by great numbers, who complained of being personally abused by Cæso, and importuned the tribune to go through with the prosecution.
XII. The day of trial now approached, and it was manifest that the people in general had conceived an opinion, that the existence of their liberty depended upon the condemnation of Cæso. Then at length he was compelled, though not without indignation, to solicit the favour of each: he was followed by his relations, who were the principal persons in the state. Titus Quintius Capitolinus, who had been thrice consul, after recounting many honourable achievements of his own, and of his family, affirmed, that “there never had appeared, either in the Quintian family, or in the Roman state, any person possessed of such a capacity, and who exhibited so early, such displays of valour. That he served his first campaign under himself, and had often in his sight fought with the enemy.” Spurius Furius declared that “he had, by order of Quintius Capitolinus, come to his relief, when in a dangerous situation; and that there was no one person to whom he thought the public so much indebted for the restoration of their affairs.” Lucius Lucretius, consul the preceding year, in the full splendour of fresh glory, atributed to Cæso a share of his own merits; enumerated the battles he had been engaged in; related extraordinary instances of his good behaviour, both on expeditions and in the field; advised and warned them, rather “to preserve among themselves, than to drive into a foreign country, a youth of such extraordinary merit, endowed with every accomplishment which nature and fortune could bestow, and who would prove a vast accession to the interest of any state, of which he should become a member. That the only parts in his character which could give offence, heat and vehemence, diminished daily, as he advanced in age; while the only requisite wanting, namely, prudence, was continually gathering strength: that as his faults were on the decline, and his virtues advancing to maturity, they should allow a man of such rare talents to become an old member of their community.” Along with these, his father, Lucius Quintius, surnamed Cincinnatus, not dwelling on his praises, for fear of heightening the public displeasure, but intreating their forgiveness for his mistakes and his youth, besought them to pardon the son for the sake of him who, neither in word or deed had ever given offence to any. But some, either through respect or fear, avoided listening to his intreaties; while others, complaining of the ill treatment which they and their friends had received, showed beforehand, by their harsh answers, what their sentence would be.
XIII. Besides the notorious instances of the ill conduct of the accused, there was one charge which bore heavily on him: Marcus Volscius Fictor, who some years before had been tribune of the people, stood forth and testified, that “a short time after the pestilence in the city, he met with a number of young men rioting in the Suburra;* that a scuffle ensued, and that his brother, who was advanced in years, and not thoroughly recovered from the disorder, received from Cæso a blow of his fist, which felled him to the ground; that he was carried home from thence, and that he believed this blow was the cause of his death; but that he was prevented from prosecuting him for such an atrocious act, by the consuls of the preceding years.” The loud asseverations of Volscius on the matter so enraged the people, that they could hardly be restrained from falling on Cæso, and putting him to death. Virginius ordered him to be seized and carried to prison: the patricians opposed force to force. Titus Quintius exclaimed, that “a person formally accused of a capital crime, whose trial was shortly to come on, ought not, before trial, and without sentence passed, to suffer violence.” The tribune declared, that “he had no intention of inflicting pains before condemnation, but that he would keep him in custody until the day of trial, that the Roman people might have it in their power to punish the man who had been guilty of murder.” The other tribunes being appealed to, resolved on a middle course, and thereby avoided every impeachment of their right to give protection: they forbade his being put in confinement, and declared it as their determination, that Cæso should give bail for his appearance, and that a sum of money should be secured to the people, in case of his failing so to do. The sum in which it was reasonable that the sureties should be bound, came then to be discussed; it was refered to the senate; and until they should come to a resolution, the accused was detained in the public assembly. It was determined that he should find sureties, and that each surety should be bound to the amount of three thousand asses:* the number of sureties to be furnished was left to the decision of the tribunes; they fixed it at ten, and on that number being bound, the prosecutor consented that the offender should be admitted to bail. He was the first who gave bail, in this manner, where the penalty was to be applied to the use of the public. Being dismissed from the Forum, he went the night following into exile among the Etrurians. On the day appointed for his trial it was pleaded in his favour, that he had gone into exile; nevertheless, Virginius presiding in the assembly, his colleagues, on being appealed to, dismissed the meeting, and the forfeited money was exacted from his father with such severity, that all his property being sold, he lived for a long time in an obscure cottage beyond the Tiber, as if banished from his country. This trial, and the proceedings about the law, gave full employment to the state. There was no disturbance from foreign enemies.
XIV. The tribunes, flushed with this success, imagined, from the dismay into which the patricians had been thrown by the exile of Cæso, that the passing of the law was almost certain. But though the elder patricians had in fact relinquished the administration of affairs, the younger part of them, especially those who were Cæso’s friends, instead of suffering their spirits to droop, assumed a higher degree of vehemence in their rage against the commons. Yet in one particular they improved their plan exceedingly, which was by moderation. The first time, indeed, after Cæso’s banishment, when the law in all their proceedings became the question, having prepared themselves for the occasion, and formed in a body with a great band of their dependents, they, as soon as the tribunes afforded a pretext by ordering them to retire, attacked the people furiously, and all exerted themselves with activity so equal, that no one carried home a greater share than another, either of honour or of ill-will; while the commons complained, that a thousand Cæsos had started up in the room of one. During the intermediate days, however, in which the tribunes brought forward no proceedings respecting the law, nothing could be more mild and peaceable than these same persons; they saluted the plebeians kindly; entered into conversation with them; invited them to their houses; took care of their affairs in the Forum, and allowed even the tribunes themselves to hold meetings for any other purposes without interruption. In a word, they showed no kind of incivility to any, either in public or private, except when the business of the law began to be agitated. On other occasions, as I have said, the behaviour of the young patricians was popular, and the tribunes not only executed the rest of their business without disturbance, but were even re-elected for the following year without one offensive expression, much less any violence being used. By thus soothing and managing the commons, they rendered them, by degrees, more tractable, and by these methods the passing of the law was evaded during that whole year.
Y. R. 294. 458.XV. The succeeding consuls, Caius Cladius, son of Appius, and Publius Valerius found, on entering on the office, the commonwealth in a state of perfect tranquillity. The new year had brought no change in affairs. The thoughts of every member of the state were occupied, either in wishes for the passing of the law, or in apprehensions of being obliged to submit to it. The more the younger patricians endeavoured to insinuate themselves into the favour of the commons, the more earnestly did the tribunes strive to counteract them; exciting suspicions to their prejudice in the minds of the populace; and asserting, that there was a conspiracy formed. They maintained likewise, that Cæso was at Rome; that plans had been concerted for putting the tribunes to death, and massacring the commons: that the elder patricians had engaged the younger to abolish the office of tribune, and to reduce the state to the same form which had subsisted before the secession to the sacred mount. While fears were entertained of an attack from the Volscians and Æquans, which had now become a stated matter, and occurred regularly almost every year, a new danger made its appearance nearer home. A number of exiles and slaves, amounting to four thousand five hundred, under the command of Appius Herdonius a Sabine, seized on the Capitol and citadel by night, and put to death all those in the latter, who refused to join the conspiracy, and take arms along with them. Some, during this tumult, ran down to the Forum with all the precipitance which their fright inspired, and the cries of, “to arms,” and “the enemy are in the city,” resounded alternately. The consuls were afraid either to arm the commons, or let them remain without arms, not knowing what this peril was, which had so suddenly assailed the city; whether it was occasioned by foreign or domestic forces; whether by the disaffection of the commons, or the treachery of the slaves. They exerted themselves to quiet the tumults; but, not unfrequently, these very endeavours served but to exasperate them the more: for it was impossible, in such a state of terror and consternation, to make the populace obey command. They gave them arms notwithstanding, but not to all without distinction, only to such as they could safely rely on in all emergences, not yet knowing with what enemy they had to contend. The rest of the night was passed in posting guards in proper places all over the city, the magistrates still remaining in anxious suspense, and unable to find out who the enemy were, or what their number. Daylight then arriving, made a discovery of the insurgents, and of their leader: Appius Herdonius from the Capitol invited the slaves to liberty, telling them that “he had undertaken the cause of all the unfortunate, with intent of restoring to their country those who had been unjustly driven into banishment, and of delivering those who groaned under the grievous yoke of slavery. He rather wished that this might be accomplished by the voluntary act of the Roman people: but if it was not to be so effected, he would rouse the Volscians and Æquans in the cause, and would persevere in the attempt to the utmost extremity.”
XVI. The affair appeared now to the consuls and senate in a less formidable light, yet they still dreaded lest, besides the purposes which were declared, that this might be a scheme of the Veientians or the Sabines; and that the disaffected might, in consequence of a concerted plan, be supported presently by the Sabine and Etrurian legions; and that their everlasting enemies, the Volscians and Æquans, might come, not, as formerly, to ravage the country, but to seize on the city, which their favourers already possessed in part. Many and various were their fears, the principal of which was their dread of the slaves, lest every one should find in his own house an enemy, whom it was neither safe to trust, nor, by apparent distrust, to provoke to infidelity and hate. So critical, indeed, was their situation, that, had perfect harmony subsisted in the state, they could scarcely hope to be extricated from it. But amidst the crowd of dangers which started up on every side, no one had any apprehensions from the turbulence of the tribunes or the commons: that was deemed an evil of a milder nature; and which, as it always began to operate in times undisturbed by foreign affairs, they supposed would now be at rest. Yet this alone proved the heaviest aggravation of their distress; for such madness possessed the tribunes, that they insisted that they were not enemies, but people under the appearance of enemies, who had seized on the capitol, for the purpose of diverting the attention of the commons from the business of the law; and that these guests and dependants of the patricians, if the law were once passed, and it were perceived that the tumults, which they raised, had not answered their purpose, would depart in greater silence than they came. They then called away the people from their arms, and held an assembly for passing the law. In the mean time, the consuls convened the senate, more terrified by the danger apprehended from the tribunes, than from the exiles and slaves.
XVII. On hearing that the people were laying down their arms, and quitting their posts, Publius Valerius, leaving his colleague to preside in the senate, rushed forth from the senate-house, and came to the assembly of the tribunes, whom he thus accosted: “What mean ye, tribunes, by these proceedings? Do ye intend, under the command and auspices of Appius Herdonius, to overturn the commonwealth? Has he been successful in corrupting you, though he had not authority sufficient to influence the slaves? Do ye think this a proper time, when the foe is within our walls, for arms to be laid aside, and laws to be proposed?” Then directing his discourse to the populace, “If, Romans, ye are unconcerned for the city and for yourselves, yet pay respect to the gods of your country, now taken captive. Jupiter supremely good and great, Juno queen of heaven, Minerva, with the other gods and goddesses, are held in confinement: a band of slaves occupies the residence of the tutelar deities of the state. Do ye think this method of acting consistent with sound policy? These slaves have a powerful force, not only within the walls, but in the citadel, looking down on the Forum and the senate-house; meanwhile, in the Forum, are assemblies of the people; in the senate-house, the senate sitting; just as in time of perfect tranquillity the senator gives his opinion, the other Romans their votes. Ought not every man, as well of the patricians as commoners, the consul, tribunes, citizens, all in short, to have snatched up arms in such a cause, to have run to the capitol, to have restored to liberty and peace that most august residence of the supremely good and great Jupiter? O father Romulus, grant to thine offspring that spirit, by which thou formerly recoveredst the citadel from these same Sabines, when they had got possession of it by means of gold. Direct them to pursue the same path, in which thou ledst the way, and which thine army followed. Lo, I as consul will be the first to follow thee and thy footsteps, as far as a mortal can follow a divinity.” The conclusion of his speech was, that “he now took up arms, and summoned every citizen of Rome to arms. If any one should attempt to prevent the execution of this order, he would never,” he said, “regard the extent of the consular authority, nor of the tribunitian power, nor the devoting laws; but, be he who he might, or where he might, whether in the capitol, or in the Forum, he would treat him as an enemy. Let the tribunes, then, give orders for arming against Publius Valerius the consul, since they had forbidden it against Appius Herdonius, and he would not hesitate to use those tribunes, in the same manner which the founder of his family had the spirit to show towards kings.” On this declaration, every one expected the utmost degree of violence, and that the enemy would be gratified with the sight of a civil war among the Romans. Yet neither could the law be carried, nor the consul march to the capitol; night coming on, put a stop to the contests; and the tribunes dreading the armed attendants of the consuls, retired. And as soon as the fomenters of sedition had withdrawn, the patricians went about among the commons, and introducing themselves into their circles of conversation, threw out discourses adapted to the juncture, advising them to “consider well into what hazards they were bringing the commonwealth;” telling them, that “the contest was not between the patricians and plebeians, but whether the patricians and plebeians together the fortress of the city, the temples of the gods, and the guardian deities of the state, and of private families, should all be given up into the hands of the enemy.” While these measures were employed in the Forum to appease the dissensions, the consuls had gone to visit the gates and walls, lest the Sabines or Veientians might make any hostile attempt.
XVIII. The same night, messengers arrived at Tusculum, with accounts of the citadel being taken, the capitol seized, and of the other disturbances which had taken place in the city. Lucius Mamilius was at that time dictator at Tusculum. He instantly assembled the senate, and introducing the messengers, warmly recommended, that “they should not wait until ambassadors might arrive from Rome to request assistance, but instantly send it; the danger and distress of their allies, with the gods, who witnessed their alliance, and the faith of treaties, demanded it. That the deities would never afford them again perhaps so good an opportunity of engaging the gratitude of so powerful a state, and so near a neighbour.” It was immediately resolved, that assistance should be sent; and the youth were enrolled and armed. Coming to Rome at day-break, they were at a distance taken for enemies; it was imagined that they were the Æquans or the Volscians; but this groundless alarm being removed, they were received into the city, and marched down in a body to the Forum, where Publius Valerius, having left his colleague to secure the gates, was employed at the time in drawing up the people in order of battle. They had been prevailed on to arm by the confidence placed in his promises, when he assured them, that, “as soon as the capitol should be recovered, and peace restored in the city, if they would suffer themselves to be convinced of the dangerous designs that lurked under the law proposed by the tribunes, he would give no obstruction to the assembly of the people, mindful of his ancestors, mindful of his surname, by which, attention to promote the interest of the community was handed down to him, as an inheritance from his ancestors.” Led by him, then, and notwithstanding that the tribunes cried out loudly against it, they directed their march up the steep of the capitol. They were joined by the troops of Tusculum; and citizens and allies vied with each other for the glory of recovering the citadel; each leader encouraging his own men. The besieged, on this, were greatly terrified, having no reliance on any thing but the strength of the place; and while they were thus disconcerted, the Romans and allies pushed forward to the assault. They had already broken into the porch of the temple, when Publius Valerius, leading on the attack, was slain at the head of his men. Publius Volumnius, formerly consul, saw him fall, and charging those about him to cover the body, rushed forward to take the place and the office of the consul. The ardour and eagerness of the soldiers were such, as hindered their perceiving so great a loss, and they gained the victory, before they knew that they were fighting without their leader. Many of the exiles defiled the temple with their blood; many were taken alive; Herdonius was slain. Thus was the capitol recovered. Punishments were inflicted on the prisoners, suitable to their several conditions either of freemen or slaves. Thanks were given to the Tusculans. The capitol was cleansed and purified. It is said, that the plobeians threw into the consul’s house a quadrans each, that his funeral might be solemnized with the greater splendour.
XIX. Peace being re-established, the tribunes earnestly pressed the senate to fulfil the promise of Publius Valerius, and pressed Claudius to acquit the shade of his colleague of breach of faith, and suffer the business of the law to proceed. The consul declared, that he would not listen to the matter, until he should have a colleague appointed in the room of the deceased. The disputes on this subject lasted until the assembly was held for substituting a consul. In the month of December, in consequence of very zealous efforts of the patricians, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, father of Cæso, was elected consul, to enter on his office without delay. The commons were quite dismayed, on finding, that they were to have for consul a person highly incensed against them, and whose power was strengthened by the support of the patricians, by his own merit, and by three sons, no one of whom was inferior to Cæso in greatness of spirit, while they excelled him in prudence and moderation on proper occasions. When he came into office, in the frequent harangues which he made from the tribunal, he showed not more vehemence in his censures of the commons, than in his reproofs to the senate, “through the indolence of which body,” he said, “the tribunes, now become perpetual, by means of their harangues and prosecutions, exercised sovereign authority, as if they were not in a republic of Roman citizens, but in an ill regulated family. That, together with his son Cæso, fortitude, constancy, and every qualification that gives ornament to youth, either in war or peace, had been driven out and banished from the city of Rome; while talkative, seditious men, sowers of dissension, twice and even thrice re-elected tribunes, spent their lives in the most pernicious practices, and in the exercise of regal tyranny. Did Aulus Virginius,” said he, “because he was not in the Capitol, deserve less severe punishment than Appius Herdonius would have merited? More, undoubtedly, if we judge fairly of the matter. Herdonius, though nothing else could be said in his favour, by announcing himself an enemy gave out public orders in such a manner, that ye necessarily would take arms. The other, denying that there were enemies to be opposed, took the arms out of your hands, and exposed you defenceless to your slaves and exiles. And did ye, notwithstanding, (I wish to speak without offence to Caius Claudius, or in detriment to the memory of Publius Valeririus) lead your troops to an attack on the Capitoline hill, before ye had expelled these enemies from the Forum? It is scandalous in the sight of gods and men, that when a host of rebels was in the citadel, in the Capitol, and when a leader of exiles and slaves, profaning every thing sacred, took up his habitation in the shrine of Jupiter supremely good and great, it is disgraceful, I say, that arms were taken up at Tusculum sooner than at Rome. It actually appeared doubtful, whether Lucius Mamilius, a Tusculan general, or Publius Valerius and Caius Claudius, consuls, should have the honour of recovering the Roman citadel. Thus we who, heretofore, would not suffer the Latines to take up arms, not even in their own defence, and when they had the enemy within their territories, should have been taken and destroyed, had not these very Latines afforded us assistance of their own accord. Is this, tribunes, your duty towards the commons, to unarm and expose them to slaughter? Surely, if any, even the lowest person among these commons of yours, whom from being a part ye have broken off, as it were, from the body of the people, and made a republic peculiar to yourselves; if any one of these should inform you that his house was surrounded by an armed band of slaves, surely ye would think that he ought to go to his assistance. And was the supremely good and great Jupiter, when hemmed round by the arms of exiles and slaves, unworthy of any human aid? Yet these men expect to be held sacred and inviolable, who esteem not the gods themselves as either sacred or inviolable. But it seems, contaminated as ye are with the guilt of your offences against gods and men, ye give out that ye will carry through your law before the end of this year. It would then, indeed, be an unfortunate day to the state, on which I was created consul, much more so, than that on which the consul Valerius perished, if ye should carry it. Now, first of all, Romans, my colleague and I intend to march the legions against the Volscians and Æquans. I know not by what fatality we find the gods more propitious, while we are employed in war than during peace. How great the danger from those nations would have been if they had known that the Capitol was in the possession of exiles, it is better that we should conjecture from the past than feel from experience.”
XX. The consul’s discourse had a considerable effect on the commons: and the patricians recovering their spirits, looked on the commonwealth as restored to its proper state. The other consul, showing more eagerness in promoting than in forming a design, readily allowed his colleague to take the lead in the preparatory proceedings on so weighty an affair; but in the execution of the plan, claimed to himself a share of the consular duties. The tribunes mocking these declarations, proceeded to ask, “by what means the consuls would be enabled to lead out an army, when no one would suffer them to make a levy? To this Quintius replied, “We have no occasion for a levy, because when Publius Valerius gave arms to the commons, for the recovery of the Capitol, they all took an oath to him, that they would assemble on an order from the consul, and would not depart without his permission. We therefore publish our orders, that every one of you who have taken the oath, attend tomorrow, under arms, at the lake Regillus.” The tribunes then began to cavil, and alleged, that “the people were absolved of that obligation, because Quintius was in a private station, at the time when the oath was taken.” But that disregard of the gods, which prevails in the present age, had not then taken place; nor did every one, by his own interpretations, accommodate oaths and the laws to his particular views, but rather adapted his practice to them. The tribunes, therefore, finding no hope of succeeding in their opposition on that ground, endeavoured to delay the marching of the troops; and in this they were the more earnest, because a report had spread, that orders had been given for the augurs also to attend at the lake Regillus, and that a place should be consecrated by them, in order that the people might transact business with the benefit of auspices, so that any measures enacted at Rome through means of the violence of the tribunes, might be repealed in an assembly held there. It was urged, however, that any one would vote there, just as the consuls chose; for at any greater distance from the city than that of a mile, there was no appeal: and even should the tribunes come thither, they would, among the crowd of other citizens, be subject to the consular authority. This alarmed them. But what excited their strongest apprehensions was, that Quintius used frequently to say, that “he would not hold an election of consuls: that the distemper of the state was not such as could be stopped by the usual remedies: that the commonwealth stood in need of a dictator, in order that any person who should stir one step towards raising disturbances, might feel, that the power of that magistrate was above an appeal.”
XXI. The senate was sitting in the Capitol; thither came the tribunes, attended by the commons, who were full of perplexity and fear: the populace, with loud clamours, implored the protection, at one time, of the consuls, at another of the senate; yet they could not prevail on the consul to recede from his resolution, until the tribunes promised that they would be directed by the senate. The consul then laid before the senate the demand of the tribunes and commons, and it was decreed, that “the tribunes should not introduce the law during that year; and that, on the other hand, the consuls should not lead out the troops from the city. For the time to come, it was the judgment of the senate, that re-electing the same magistrates, and re-appointing the same tribunes, was injurious to the interest of the commonwealth.” The consuls conformed to the decisions of the senate; but the tribunes, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the consuls, were re-appointed. The senate likewise, not to yield to the commons in any particular, on their side wished to re-elect Lucius Quintius consul. On no occasion during the whole year, did the consul exert himself with more warmth. “Can I wonder,” said he, “conscript fathers, if your authority is lightly regarded among the commons? ye yourselves deprive it of its weight. For instance, because the commons have broken through a decree of the senate with respect to the re-election of their magistrates, ye wish to break through it also, lest ye should fall short of the populace in rashness; as if superiority of power in the state consisted in superior degrees of inconstancy and irregularity; for it is, certainly, an instance of greater inconstancy and irregularity, for us to counteract our own decrees and resolutions, than those of others. Go on, conscript fathers, to imitate the inconsiderate multitude; and ye, who ought to show an example to the rest, rather follow the steps of others in a wrong course, than guide them into the right one. But let me not imitate the tribunes, nor suffer myself to be declared consul in contradiction to the decree of the senate. And you, Caius Claudius, I exhort, that you, on your part, restrain the Roman people from this licentiousness; and be persuaded, that, on my part, I shall regard your conduct therein in such a light, that I shall not consider you as obstructing my attainment of honour, but as augmenting the glory of my refusal, and protecting me against the ignominy which I should incur by being re-elected.” They then issued their joint orders, that “no person should vote for Lucius Quintius being consul; and that, if any one did, they would not allow such vote.”
Y. R. 295. 457.XXII. The consuls elected were Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, a third time, and Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis. The general survey was performed that year. The lustrum could not be closed, consistently with the rules of religion, on account of the Capitol having been taken and the consul slain. In the beginning of the year, in which Quintus Fabius and Lucius Cornelius were consuls, various disturbances arose. The tribunes excited commotions among the commons. The Latines and Hernicians gave information of a formidable war being commenced against them by the Volscians and Æquans; that the legions of the Volscians were at Antium; and that there were strong apprehensions of that colony itself revolting. With difficulty the tribunes were prevailed on to allow the business of the war to be first attended to. The consuls then divided the provinces between them: Fabius was appointed to march the legions to Antium, Cornelius to remain at Rome, for the protection of the city, in case any party of the enemy, as was the practice of the Æquans, should come to make depredations. The Hernicians and Latines were ordered to supply a number of men in conformity to the treaties; and of the army, two parts were composed of the allies, the third consisted of natives. The allies arriving on the day appointed, the consul encamped outside the Capuan gate; and, after purifying the army, marched from thence to Antium, and sat down at a small distance from the city, and the post occupied by the enemy; where the Volscians, not daring to risk an engagement, because the troops from the Æquans had not yet arrived, endeavoured to screen themselves within their trenches. Fabius, next day, forming his troops, not in one body, composed of his countrymen and the allies intermixed, but in three separate bodies, consisting of the three several nations, surrounded the rampart of the enemy. Placing himself in the centre with the Roman legions, he commanded all to look for the signals from thence, in order that the allies and his own forces might begin the action at the same time, and also retire together, if he should sound a retreat: in the rear of each division, he also placed their own cavalry. Having thus surrounded the camp, he assaulted it in three different places, and pressing them vigorously on every side, beat down the Volscians from the rampart, who were unable to withstand his force: then advancing within the fortifications, he drove them before him in confusion and dismay towards one side, and at length compelled them to abandon their works. After which, the cavalry, who could not easily have passed over the rampart, and had hitherto stood as spectators of the fight, coming up with them, as they fled in disorder in the open plain, and making great havoc of their affrighted troops, enjoyed a share in the honour of the victory. The number of slain, both within the camp, and on the outside of the fortifications, was great, but the spoil was much greater; for the enemy were scarcely able to carry off their arms, and their army would have been entirely destroyed, had not the woods covered them in their flight.
XXIII. During these transactions at Antium, the Æquans, sending forward the main strength of their youth, surprized the citadel of Tusculum by night; and, with the rest of their army, sat down, at a little distance from the walls of that town, for the purpose of dividing the force of their enemies. Intelligence of this being carried to Rome, and from Rome to the camp at Antium, the Romans were not less deeply affected, than if they had been told that the Capitol was taken. Their obligations to the Tusculans were recent, and the similarity of the danger seemed to demand a requital, in kind, of the aid which they had received. Fabius, therefore, neglecting every other business, having hastily conveyed the spoils from the camp to Antium, and left a small garrison there, hastened to Tusculum by forced marches. The soldiers were allowed to carry nothing but their arms, and what food they had ready dressed; the consul Cornelius sent supplies of provision from Rome. The troops found employment at Tusculum for several months. With one half of the army, the consul besieged the camp of the Æquans; the other he gave to the Tusculans to effect the recovery of the citadel; but they never could have made their way into it by force. Famine, however, compelled the enemy to give it up: and when they were reduced to that extremity, the Tusculans sent them all away unarmed and naked under the yoke. But as they were attempting their ignominious flight, the Roman consul overtook them at Algidum, and put every man to the sword. After this success, he led back his army to a place called Columen, where he pitched his camp. The other consul also, the city being no longer in danger, after the defeat of the Æquans, marched out from Rome. Thus the two consuls entering the enemy’s territories on different sides, vied eagerly with each other in making depredations, the one on the Volscians, the other on the Æquans. I find, in many writers, that the people of Antium revolted this year, that Lucius Cornelius, consul, conducted the war against them, and took their city. I cannot venture to affirm this as certain, because in the earlier writers there is no mention of such a transaction.
XXIV. No sooner was this war brought to a conclusion, than a tribunitian commotion at home alarmed the senate. The tribunes exclaimed, that “the detaining of the troops abroad was a mere artifice, calculated to frustrate their endeavours respecting the law. But that they were determined, nevertheless, to go through with the business which they had undertaken.” However, Publius Lucretius, præfect of the city, so managed matters, that the proceedings of the tribunes were postponed until the arrival of the consuls. There arose also a new cause of disturbance: Aulus Cornelius and Quintus Servilius, quæstors, commenced a prosecution against Marcus Volscius for having manifestly given false evidence against Cæso: a discovery having been made, supported by many proofs, that the brother of Volscius, from the time when he was first taken ill, had not only never appeared in public, but that he never rose from his sick bed, where he died of a disorder, which lasted many months; and also that, at the time when the witness had charged the fact to have been committed, Cæso had not been seen at Rome. Those who had served in the army with him also affirmed that he, at that time, regularly attended in his post along with them, without having once obtained leave of absence. Many in private stations challenged Volscius, in their own names, to abide the decision of the judge,* content to submit to the penalty, if they should fail in proof. As he did not dare to stand the trial, all these circumstances concurring together, no more doubt was entertained of the condemnation of Volscius, than there had been of Cæso’s, after Volscius had given his testimony. The business, however, was put a stop to by the tribunes, who declared, that they would not suffer the quæstors to hold an assembly on the business of the prosecution, until one was first held on that of the law; and thus both affairs were deferred till the arrival of the consuls. When these entered the city in triumph, with their victorious army, silence being observed with respect to the law, people from thence imagined that the tribunes were struck with fear. But they, directing their views to the tribuneship for the fourth time, it being now the latter end of the year, had changed the direction of their efforts, from the promoting of the law, to canvassing for the election; and although the consuls struggled against the continuing of that office in the same hands with no less earnestness than if the act had been proposed for the purpose of lessening their own dignity, the tribunes got the better in the contest. The same year, peace was, on petition, granted to the Æquans; and a survey which had been begun in the former one, was now finished, the lustrum being closed, which was the tenth from the founding of the city. The number of citizens rated, was one hundred and thirty-two thousand four hundred and nine. The consuls acquired great glory this year, as well in the conduct of the war, as in the establishing of peace while at home: though the state enjoyed not perfect concord, yet the dissensions were less violent than at other times.
Y. R. 296. 456.XXV. Lucius Minucius and Caius Nautius, who were next elected consuls, found on their hands the two causes in dispute, which lay over from the last year. The consuls obstructed the passing of the law, and the tribunes the trial of Volscius, with equal degrees of activity. But the new quæstors were possessed of greater power and influence. Together with Marcus Valerius, son of Manius Valerius, grandson of Volesus, Titus Quintius Capitolinus, who had been thrice consul, was quæstor. Although Cæso could not be thereby restored to the Quintian family, and, in him, one of the most valuable of the young Romans, to the state, yet with a rigour dictated by justice and duty, he prosecuted the false witness, by whose means an innocent person had been deprived of the liberty of making his defence. The tribunes, and particularly Virginius, endeavouring to procure the passing of their law, the consuls were allowed the space of two months to examine it, on condition that when they should have informed the people of the dangerous designs which were concealed under the propositions which it contained, they would then allow them to give their votes on it. This respite of proceedings being acceded to, rendered matters quiet in the city. But the Æquans did not allow them long to enjoy rest; for, violating the league which had been made the preceding year with the Romans, they conferred the chief command on Gracchus Clœlius, a man at that time of by far the greatest consequence among them; and, headed by him, carried hostile depredations into the district of Lavici; from thence into that of Tusculum; and then, loaded with booty, pitched their camp at Algidum. To that camp came Quintus Fabius, Publius Volumnius, and Aulus Postumius, ambassadors from Rome, to complain of injuries, and demand redress, in conformity to the treaty. The general of the Æquans bade them deliver to that oak whatever message they had from the Roman senate, while he should attend to other business: a very large oak tree hung over the prætorium, and under its shade afforded a pleasant seat: to this, one of the ambassadors, as he was going away, replied, “Let that consecrated oak, and all the deities, bear witness, that the treaty has been broken by you, and so favour both our complaints at present, and our arms hereafter, as that we avenge the violated rights of gods and men.” On the return of the ambassadors to Rome, the senate ordered one of the consuls to lead an army to Algidum against Gracchus; and gave to the other, as his province, the ravaging the territories of the Æquans. The tribunes, according to their usual custom, obstructed the levy, and might, perhaps, have effectually prevented it, but that a new and sudden alarm excited stronger apprehensions of danger.
XXVI. A very large body of Sabines, spreading devastations around, advanced almost to the walls of Rome. The fields were deserted, and the city struck with terror. The commons then cheerfully took arms, while the tribunes in vain attempted to dissuade them from it. Two large armies were raised. Nautius led one against the Sabines, and, pitching his camp at Eretum, by detaching small parties, especially on incursions by night, he caused such desolation in the country of the Sabines, that, compared to it, the injuries sustained in the Roman territories seemed trifling. Minucius neither met the same success, nor showed the same ability in the conduct of his business: for, having encamped at a little distance, without experiencing any considerable loss, he kept his men confined within the trenches. When the enemy perceived this, they assumed new boldness from the others’ fears, and made an assault on the camp by night; but finding that they were not likely to succeed by open force, they began, next day, to inclose it by lines of circumvallation. Before this work could be completed, and the passes thereby entirely shut up, five horsemen were despatched, who, making their way between the enemy’s posts, brought intelligence to Rome, that the consul and his army were besieged. Nothing could have happened so unexpected, or so contrary to people’s hopes; and the fright and consternation, in consequence of it, were not less than if the city were surrounded and threatened, instead of the camp. They sent for the consul Nautius, yet not supposing him capable of affording them sufficient protection, resolved that a dictator should be chosen to extricate them from this distress, and Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus was accordingly appointed with unanimous approbation. Here, they may receive instruction, who despise every quality which man can boast, in comparison with riches; and who think, that those who possess them can alone have merit, and to such alone honours and distinctions belong. Lucius Quintius, the now sole hope of the people, and of the empire of Rome, cultivated a farm of four acres on the other side of the Tiber, at this time called the Quintian meadows, opposite to the very spot where the dock-yard stands. There he was found by the deputies, either leaning on a stake, in a ditch which he was making, or ploughing; in some work of husbandry he was certainly employed. After mutual salutations, and wishes on the part of the commissioners, “that it might be happy both to him and the commonwealth,” he was requested to “put on his gown, and hear a message from the senate.” Surprised, and asking if “all was well?” he bade his wife Racilia bring out his gown quickly from the cottage. When he had put it on, after wiping the sweat and dust from his brow, he came forward, when the deputies congratulated him, and saluted him dictator; requested his presence in the city, and informed him of the alarming situation of the army. A vessel had been prepared for Quintius by order of government, and on his landing on the other side, he was received by his three sons, who came out to meet him; then by his other relations and friends, and afterwards by the greater part of the patricians. Surrounded by this numerous attendance, and the lictors marching before him, he was conducted to his residence. The plebeians likewise ran together from all quarters; but they were far from beholding Quintius with equal pleasure, for they thought the powers annexed to his office too unlimited, and the man still more arbitrary. During that night, no farther steps were taken than to post watches in the city.
XXVII. Next day, the dictator coming into the Forum before it was light, named Lucius Tarquitius master of the horse; he was of a patrician family, but though, by reason of the narrowness of his circumstances, he had served among the foot, yet he was accounted by many degrees the first in military merit among all the young men of Rome. Attended, then, by his master of the horse, Quintius came to the assembly of the people, proclaimed a cessation of civil business, ordered the shops to be shut in all parts of the city, and that no one should attend to any private affairs. He then issued orders that all who were of the military age should attend, under arms, in the field of Mars, before sun-set, with victuals for five days, and twelve palisades each; and that those whose age rendered them unfit for service, should dress that victuals for the soldiers who lived near them, while they were preparing their arms, and procuring the military pales. Immediately the young men ran different ways to look for palisades, which every one without molestation took, wherever he could find them; and they all attended punctually according to the dictator’s order. The troops being then formed in a such a manner as was not only proper for a march, but for an engagement also, if occasion should require it, the dictator set out at the head of the legions, and the master of the horse at the head of his cavalry. In both bodies such exhortations were used, as the juncture required; that “they should quicken their pace; that there was a necessity for expedition, in order to reach the enemy in the night; that the Roman consul and his army were besieged; that this was the third day of their being invested; that no one could tell what any one night or day might produce; that the issue of the greatest affairs often depended on a moment of time.” The men too, to gratify their leaders, called to each other “standard-bearer, advance quicker; soldiers follow.” At midnight they arrived at Algidum, and when they found themselves near the enemy, halted.
XXVIII. The dictator then having rode about, and examined as well as he could in the night, the situation and form of the enemy’s camp, commanded the tribunes of the soldiers to give orders that the baggage should be thrown together in one place; and then that the soldiers, with their arms and palisades, should return into the ranks. These orders were executed; and then with the same regularity in which they had marched, he drew the whole army in a long column, and directed that, on a signal being given, they should all raise a shout, and that on the shout being raised, every man should throw up a trench in front of his post, and fix his palisades. As soon as these orders were communicated, and the signal given, the soldiers performed what they were commanded: the shout resounded on every side of the enemy, and reaching beyond their camp, was heard in that of the consul, exciting terror in the one, and the greatest joy in the other. The Romans observing to each other, with exultation, that this was the shout of their countrymen, and that assistance was at hand, took courage, and from their watch-guards and outposts issued threats. The consul likewise declared, that “they ought not to lose time, for that the shout then heard was a signal, not only that their friends were arrived, but that they had entered upon action; and they might take it for granted, that the camp was attacked on the outside.” He therefore ordered his men to take arms, and follow him; these falling on the enemy before it was light, gave notice by a shout to the dictator’s legions, that on their side also the action was begun. The Æquans were now preparing measures to hinder themselves from being surrounded with works; when being attacked within, they were obliged, lest a passage might be forced through the midst of their camp, to turn their attention from those employed on the fortifications, to the others who assailed them on the inside, and thus left the former at leisure, through the remainder of the night, to finish the works, and the fight with the consul continued until morn appeared. At the break of day, they were entirely encompassed by the dictator’s works, and while they were hardly able to support the fight against one army, their trenches were assaulted by Quintius’s troops, who instantly, on completing those works, had returned to their arms. Thus they found themselves obliged to encounter a new enemy, and the former never slackened their attack. Being thus closely pressed on every side, instead of fighting, they had recourse to entreaties, beseeching the dictator on one side, and the consul on the other, to be content with the victory without their entire destruction, and to permit them to retire without arms. By the consul they were referred to the dictator, and he, highly incensed against them, added ignominy to their defeat. He ordered their general, Gracchus Clœlius, and the other leaders, to be brought to him in chains, and the town of Corbio to be evacuated; then told them, that “he wanted not the blood of the Æquans; that they were at liberty to depart; but he would send them under the yoke, as an acknowledgment, at length extorted, that their nation was conquered and subdued.” The yoke is formed of three spears, two being fixed upright in the ground, and the other tied across between the upper ends of them. Under this yoke the dictator sent the Æquans.
XXIX. Having possessed himself of the enemy’s camp, which was filled with plenty, for he had sent them away naked, he distributed the entire booty among his own troops. Reprimanding the consular army and the consul himself, he said to them, “Soldiers, ye shall share no part of the spoil of that enemy, to whom ye were near becoming a prey; and as to you, Lucius Minucius, until you begin to show a spirit becoming a consul, you shall command those legions with the rank of lieutenant-general only.” Accordingly Minucius resigned the consulship, and, in obedience to orders, remained with the army. But so well were people then disposed to obey, without repining, the commands of superiors, that this army, regarding more the benefit which he had conferred, than the disgrace which he had inflicted on them, not only voted a golden crown of a pound weight to the dictator, but at his departure saluted him as their patron. At Rome, the senate, being convened by Quintus Fabius, præfect of the city, ordered that Quintius on his arrival should enter the city in triumph, without changing his order of march. The generals of the enemy were led before his chariot, the military ensigns carried before him, and his army followed, laden with spoil. It is said that tables were laid out with provisions before every house, and that the troops, partaking of the entertainment, singing the triumphal hymn, and throwing out their customary jests, followed the chariot like revellers at a feast. The same day, the freedom of the state was, with universal approbation, conferred on Lucius Mamilius of Tusculum. The dictator would have immediately resigned his office, but was induced to hold it some time longer on account of the assembly for the trial of Volscius, the false witness. Their dread of the dictator, prevented the tribunes from obstructing it, and Volscius being sentenced to exile, departed into Lanuvium. Quintius, on the sixteenth day resigned the dictatorship, which he had received for the term of six months. About the same time, the consul Nautius engaged the Sabines at Eretum with great success; a heavy blow to the Sabines after the devastation of their country: Fabius Quintus was sent to Algidum in the room of Minucius. Toward the end of the year, the tribunes began to agitate the affair of the law; but as two armies were then abroad, the patricians carried the point, that no business should be proposed to the people. The commons prevailed so far as to appoint the same tribunes the fifth time. It was reported that wolves had been seen in the Capitol, and were driven away by dogs: and, on account of that prodigy, the Capitol was purified: such were the transactions of that year.
Y. R. 297. 455.XXX. Quintus Minucius and Caius Horatius Pulvillus succeeded to the consulship. In the beginning of this year, while the public were undisturbed by any foreign enemy, the same tribunes and the same law occasioned seditions at home; and these would have proceeded to still greater lengths, so highly were people’s passions inflamed, but that, as if it had been concerted for the purpose, news was brought, that by an attack of the Æquans, in the night, the garrison at Corbio was cut off. The consuls called the senate together, by whom they were ordered to make a hasty levy of troops, and to lead them to Algidum. The contest about the law was now laid aside, and a new struggle began about the levy; in which the consular authority was in danger of being overpowered by the force of tribunitian privileges, when their fears were more effectually roused by an account of the Sabine army having come down into the Roman territories to plunder, and nearly advanced to the city. This struck such terror, that the tribunes suffered the troops to be enlisted, yet not without a stipulation, that since they had been baffled for five years, and as their office, as it stood, was but a small protection to the commons, there should for the future be ten tribunes of the people appointed. Necessity extorted a concession from the senate: they only made one exception; that the people should not, hereafter, re-elect the same tribunes. An assembly was instantly held for the election of those officers, lest, if the war was once ended, they might be disappointed in that, as in other matters. In the thirty-sixth year from the first creation of the tribunes of the people, the number ten were elected, two out of each of the classes; and it was established as a rule, that they should thenceforth be elected in the same manner. The levy being then made, Minucius marched against the Sabines, but did not come up with them. Horatius, after the Æquans had put the garrison of Corbio to the sword, and had also taken Ortona, brought them to an engagement in the district of Algidum, killed a great number, and drove them not only out of that district, but from Corbio and Ortona. Corbio he razed to the ground, in revenge for the treachery practised there against the garrison.
Y. R. 298. 454.XXXI. Marcus Valeriũs and Spurius Virginius were next elected consuls. Quiet prevailed both at home and abroad. The price of provisions was high, in consequence of an extraordinary fall of rain. A law passed for disposing of the Aventine as public property. The same tribunes of the people were continued in office. These, during the following year, which had for consuls Titus Romilius and Caius Veturius, warmly recommended the law in all their harangues.Y. R. 299. 453. “They must be ashamed of the useless addition made to their number, if that affair were to lie, during the course of their two years, in the same hopeless state, in which it had lain for the last five.” While they were most earnestly engaged in this pursuit, messengers arrived, in a fright, from Tusculum, with information that the Æquans were in the Tusculan territory. The recent services of that people made the tribunes ashamed of throwing any delay in the way of assistance being given them. Both the consuls were sent with an army, and found the enemy in their usual post, in the district of Algidum. There they fought; above seven thousand of the Æquans were slain, the rest dispersed, and vast booty was acquired. This the consuls sold on account of the low state of the treasury; which proceeding excited a general dissatisfaction among the soldiery, and also afforded grounds to the tribunes for bringing an accusation against the consuls before the commons. Accordingly,Y. R. 300. 452. as soon as they went out of office, Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Alterius having succeeded them a charge was instituted against Romilius by Caius Claudius Cicero, tribune of the people, and against Veturius, by Lucius Allienus, plebeian ædile. To the great mortification of the patricians they were both sentenced to fine, Romilius to pay ten thousand asses,* Veturius fifteen thousand.† The sufferings of these consuls, however, did not lessen the activity of their successors; they said, they were able to support a similar sentence, while both tribunes and commons combined, were insufficient to carry the point. The tribunes now desisting from farther prosecution of the law, with regard to which, in the length of time since its publication, people’s ardour had cooled, applied to the senate in amicable terms, requesting that they would at length “put an end to all contentions: and, since it was disagreeable to them, that laws should be proposed by plebeians, would permit lawgivers to be chosen in common, out of the plebeians, and out of the patricians, in order to the framing of such as would be advantageous to both parties, and tend to establish liberty on an equal footing.” This proposal the senate did not disapprove of, but declared that no one, except a patrician, should have the propounding of laws. As they agreed with regard to the necessary statutes, and only differed about the persons to propose them, ambassadors were sent to Athens, namely, Spurius Postumius Albus, Aulus Manlius, and Servius Sulpicius Camerinus, who were ordered to procure a copy of the famous laws of Solon, and to make themselves acquainted with the institutions, customs, and laws of the other states of Greece.
Y. R. 301. 451.XXXII. This year passed undisturbed by any foreign wars. The following also, in which Publius Curiatius and Sextus Quintilius were consuls, was still more quiet: the tribunes observing uninterrupted silence, which was owing, at first, to their waiting for the arrival of the ambassadors who had gone to Athens, for copies of the laws of that state; and, afterwards, to two heavy calamities which fell on them at once, famine and pestilence making dreadful havoc among both men and cattle. The country was desolated, the city exhausted, by a continual succession of deaths. Many illustrious houses were in mourning: Servilius Cornelius, Flamen Quirinalis died, and Caius Horatius Pulvillus, augur, in whose room the augurs elected Caius Veturius, with the greater satisfaction, because he had been condemned by the commons. The consul Quintilius also died, and four tribunes of the people. Such a multiplicity of losses made it a melancholy year, but there was no disturbance from any enemy.Y. R. 302. 450. The next consuls were Caius Menenius and Publius Sestius Capitolinus. Neither during this consulate was there any foreign war: at home, however, some commotions arose. The ambassadors had now returned with the Athenian laws, and the tribunes therefore pressed more earnestly, that the buisness of compiling and settling their own laws might be begun. It was at last resolved, that ten magistrates, to be called decemvirs, should be created, from whom no appeal should lie, and that there should be no other appointed during that year. It was disputed for some time, whether plebeians should be admitted among them. At length, that point was given up to the patricians, provided that the Icilian law concerning the Aventine, and others, called the devoting laws, should not be repealed.
XXXIII. Thus, in the three hundred and first year from the building of Rome, the form of the government underwent a second change; the supreme power being transferred from consuls to decemvirs, as it had formerly been from kings to consuls. This new form, however, was not of long duration; for the happy beginnings of that government terminated in extravagant licentiousness, which hastened its dissolution; and recourse was had to the former practice of intrusting the power and consular title to two persons. The decemvirs created were, Appius Claudius, Titus Genucius, Publius Sestius,Y. R. 303. 449. Lucius Veturius, Caius Julius, Aulus Manlius, Servius Sulpicius, Publius Curiatius, Titus Romilius, and Spurius Postumius. Claudius and Genucius being consuls elect, this honour of being of the decemvirate was conferred on them as a compensation for the loss of the other; and on Sestius, one of the consuls of the former year, because he had proposed this business to the senate, against the will of his colleague. Next to these, were considered the three who had gone ambassadors to Athens, that the honour might serve as a recompense for such a distant embassy, and, at the same time, it was supposed, that they, having acquired a knowledge of the laws of foreign countries, would be useful in digesting the new proposed regulations. It is said, that in choosing the remainder, they pitched upon persons far advanced in years, with intent that there should be the less warmth in any opposition which might be made to the opinions of the others. The direction of the whole business of government, however, was lodged in the hands of Appius Claudius, through the favour of the people; for he had assumed a demeanour so entirely new, that from a harsh and severe prosecutor of the commons, he became, on a sudden, a zealous promoter of their interests, and an eager candidate for popular applause. Each of them administered justice one in day in ten. On that day, the twelve fasces attended him who presided in the court of justice; his nine colleagues being attended each by a beadle; and, while perfect harmony subsisted among themselves, although such union between governors is sometimes found prejudicial to the governed, they observed the strictest equity towards all. It will be sufficient to produce a single proof of their moderation and fairness. Though by the terms of their appointment there could be no appeal from their decisions; yet upon occasion of a dead body being found buried in the house of Publius Sestius, a man of patrician family, and of the decemvirate, (and which dead body was produced in a public assembly, in a case as clear as it was atrocious,) Caius Julius, a decemvir, also commenced a criminal process against Sestius, and appeared before the people as prosecutor when he might legally have sat as judge; departing from his own right, that, while he took away from the power of the magistracy, he might add, in proportion, to the liberty of the people.
XXXIV. Whilst the highest and the lowest alike experienced this prompt execution of justice, impartial, as if dictated by an oracle, the decemvirs at the same time employed themselves assiduously in framing the laws; and at length, after people’s expectations had been raised to the utmost height, they produced for public inspection ten tables; and then, summoning an assembly of the people, after praying that “it might prove fortunate and advantageous, and happy to the commonwealth, to themselves, and to their posterity;” ordered them, “to go and read the laws which were exhibited; declared, that they had placed the rights of all on an equal footing, and in as precise a manner as could be devised by the abilities of ten men; but that the understandings and judgments of a larger number might, perhaps, strike out improvements: desired them to examine rigorously each particular in their own minds, canvass it in conversation, and bring it to public discussion, should any deficiency or excess appear in any article. They were resolved,” they said, “that the Roman people should be bound only by such laws as the whole community, with general consent, might appear, not so much to have ratified, when proposed, as to have proposed from themselves.” When, according to the reports of the people, respecting each head of the laws, they appeared sufficiently correct, then, in an assembly voting by centuries, were ratified the laws of the ten tables, which even at this present time, after all which have been added, continue to be the source of all our jurisprudence, respecting either public or private affairs. It was afterwards said, that there were two tables wanting, and that by the addition of these, a body, as it were, of the whole Roman law might be completed. The expectation of this, when the day of election of officers approached, raised a wish that decemvirs should be chosen a second time; and the commons, besides that they hated the name of consuls, as much as they did that of kings, felt, at the present, no loss even of the support of the tribunes, because the decemvirs in turn allowed an appeal to their colleagues.
XXXV. But when the assembly for electing decemvirs was proclaimed to be held on the third market-day, the minds of many were so fired with ambition of obtaining the office, that even persons of the first dignity in the state, dreading, I suppose, lest if it should be left unoccupied by them, an opening might be given for improper persons to obtrude themselves in a post of such high authority, solicited votes, humbly suing for a power, the establishment of which they had with their utmost efforts before opposed, and from those same plebeians, against the gratification of whose wishes they had hitherto so strenuously contended. Persons of advanced age, and who had passed through dignified stations, thus lowering their pride to hazard a contest of this sort, made Appius Claudius redouble his exertions. It were difficult to determine whether he should be reckoned among the decemvirs, or among the candidates: he appeared sometimes more like a person petitioning for, than one who was invested with, the office: he aspersed the characters of the candidates of high rank, and extolled the most insignificant and the lowest. Surrounded by the Icilii and Duilii, who had been tribunes, he bustled about the Forum, and through their means recommended himself to the commons; until even his colleagues, who till that time had been entirely attached to his interests, looked on him with amazement, wondering what his intentions could be. They were convinced, that there was no sincerity in his professions; that such affability, in one who had always evinced a haughty mind, could not be without some interested views; that lowering himself to the common level in this extraordinary manner, and mixing on an equal footing with the private citizens, did not look like haste to quit the office, but rather like seeking for means to be continued in it. Not daring, however, openly to oppose his wishes, they endeavoured to baffle his efforts by a seeming desire to gratify him; and agreed among themselves to appoint him, as the youngest of their body, to the office of presiding at the election. This was an artifice to prevent his returning himself, which no one had ever done, except in the case of tribunes of the people; and, even there, it was deemed a most pernicious precedent. However, he declared, that, with the favour of fortune, he would preside at the election; and he laid hold of the intended obstruction to his design, as the lucky means of effecting its accomplishment. Having, by means of a coalition which he formed, foiled he pretensions of the two Quintii, Capitolinus and Cincinnatus; of his own uncle Caius Claudius, a most steady supporter of the cause of the nobility; and of other citizens of the same high rank, he promoted to the decemvirate persons of very inferior condition in life. And among the first raised, was himself: an act highly disapproved of by all men of honourable minds, and which no one had believed that he would dare to be guilty of. Together with him were elected Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis, Marcus Sergius, Lucius Minucius, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, Quintus Pætilius, Titus Antonius Merenda, Cæso Duilius, Spurius Oppius Cornicen, and Manius Rabuleius.
XXXVI. Now the mask, which Appius had assumed, fell off. He began to live according to his natural disposition; and to form his new colleagues early to his own plan of proceeding before they should enter on the administration of their office. They held daily cabals, remote from witnesses; wherein, being furnished with schemes of tyranny, digested among themselves, and without the knowledge of any, they no longer dissembled their arrogance; became difficult of access, morose to such as addressed them, and continued this behaviour until the ides of May, the then usual time for entering on office.Y. R. 304. 448. At the beginning, then, of their magistracy, they distinguished the very first day of it by an exhibition which excited the greatest alarm: for whereas the former decemvirs had observed a rule, that only one should have the fasces, and that this emblem of royalty should pass in rotation with them all, that is, to each in his turn, but these unexpectedly made their appearance, attended severally by twelve fasces. One hundred and twenty lictors filled the Forum, and carried axes bound up with those ensigns, the decemvirs alleging that, as, by the terms of their appointment, there lay not any appeal, there could be no reason why the axe should be taken away. Thus these ten magistrates appeared as so many kings, and thus they multiplied terrors, not only among the lower classes, but among the principal patricians; every one being persuaded, that they wanted only a pretext to begin the work of death, so that should any one, either in the senate, or in a meeting of the people, utter an expression favourable to liberty, the rods and axes would instantly be got ready, to strike terror into the rest. For, besides that there was no hope of protection from the people, an appeal to them having been prohibited, they had, by agreement, also prohibited themselves from interfering with each other’s decrees; whereas the former decemvirs had allowed their decrees to be amended by an appeal to a colleague, and had referred to the public decision several matters which might seem to belong to their own jurisdiction. For some time the danger seemed to threaten equally all ranks of men, but began, by degrees, to be directed entirely against the commons. They avoided giving offence to the patricians, while they treated the lower ranks with arbitrary cruelty. Interest having usurped in their breasts the place of justice, they on every occasion regarded the person, not the cause. Their decisions they adjusted privately at home, and afterwards pronounced them in the Forum. If an appeal was made from any one of them to his colleagues, the treatment he met from those to whom he appealed was always such as made him repent of not having abided by the former sentence. An opinion had also gone abroad, though without known authority, that they had conspired in this scheme of iniquity, not merely for the present year, but that a clandestine league had been struck among them, and ratified by an oath, that they would not call an assembly for elections, but, perpetuating the decemvirate, keep a lasting hold of the power which they had now in their hands.
XXXVII. The plebeians now began to watch the countenances of the patricians; and though they had been accustomed to dread being enslaved by them, and, influenced by that dread, had brought the commonwealth into its present situation; yet they now anxiously looked to those patricians for some ray of hope which might guide them to liberty. The principal of these, while they hated the decemvirs, bore no less hatred toward the commons; and, though they did not approve the proceedings of the former, thought the latter suffered no more than they had deserved; and had no inclination to give assistance to men who, through their intemperate eagerness in pursuit of liberty, had fallen into slavery. On the contrary, they heaped injuries on them, in hopes, that, being thoroughly disgusted with the present state of affairs, they might wish for the restoration of the former government by consuls. The greater part of the year was now past; and two tables of laws had been added to ten of the former year; so that there was not any circumstance, if these laws were once ratified in assembly of the centuries, which could make the now form of government necessary to the commonwealth. People were in continual expectation of an assembly being called for the election of consuls, and the thoughts of the commons were solely employed in devising a revival of that bulwark of liberty, the tribunitian office, which had been laid aside so long. In the meantime, not the least mention was made of an election, and the decemvirs, who, at first, had exhibited themselves to the commons, for the purpose of gaining their favour, surrounded by men who had been tribunes, now collected about them crowds of young patricians. These encompassed every tribunal; they seized, and drove about at will, the commons and their effects; the most powerful being sure of success, in possessing himself of any man’s property, in which he saw any thing desirable, while even their persons were not secure from injury. Some were beaten with rods; others felt the stroke of the axe; in a word, cruelty and profit went hand in hand, for a grant of his effects to some of their partizans ever followed the execution of the owner. The young nobility, corrupted by such bribes, not only declined making opposition to the injustice, but openly demonstrated that they preferred the indulgence of their own licentiousness to the establishment of the general liberty.
Y. R. 305. 447.XXXVIII. The ides of May came. The offices of the state not having been filled up by election, men, invested with no public character, made their appearance as decemvirs, retaining still the same spirit to enforce their authority, and the same emblems to support the splendor of their station. This was held the height of arbitrary government, and the loss of liberty was deplored as irrecoverable. No one champion stood forth in its cause, nor was there a prospect of any such appearing: so that the people not only sunk into despondence, but began to be despised by the neighbouring nations, who thought it would reflect shame on themselves, if a state which had forfeited its own liberty, should be allowed to retain its dominion over others. The Sabines, with a numerous army, made an irruption into the Roman territories; and, having spread devastation through a great part of the country, and collected, without loss, a great booty of men and cattle, they recalled their forces from the various parts in which they were dispersed, and pitched their camp at Eretum, grounding their hopes on the dissensions at Rome, which they trusted would prevent the raising of troops. Besides the couriers that arrived, the country people, flying into the city, caused a general alarm. The decemvirs held a consultation on the measures necessary to be taken; and, while they were left destitute of support on every side, being equally detested by the patricians and the commons, another circumstance occurred which aggravated their fears by presenting an additional danger to their view: the Æquans on the opposite side had encamped in the district of Algidum, and ambassadors, who came from Tusculum to request assistance, brought accounts, that their lands were ravaged by detachments from thence. The decemvirs were so thoroughly frightened, on finding the city surrounded by two enemies at once, that they determined to have recourse to the advice of the senate; accordingly they ordered the senators to be summoned to a meeting, though they well knew what a storm of public resentment threatened to break upon themselves; that all men would heap on their heads, the blame of the devastations of the country, and of all the dangers by which they were encompassed; and that, on these grounds, attempts would be made to deprive them of their office, if they did not firmly unite in the support of their cause; and, by enforcing their authority with severity, on a few of the most intractable tempers, repress the forwardness of others. When the voice of the crier was heard in the Forum, summoning the senators to attend the decemvirs in the senate-house, it excited no less wonder than if it were a matter entirely new; “what could have happened now,” the people said, “that those who had, for a long time past, laid aside the custom of consulting the senate, should now revive it? But they might, no doubt, thank the war, and their enemies, for any thing being done that was formerly usual with them as a free state.” They looked about the Forum for senators, yet could hardly discover one. They then turned their eyes to the senate-house, remarking the solitude which appeared round the decemvirs, who, on their part, attributed the non-attendance of the summoned to the general detestation of their government; while the commons found a reason for it, in the want of authority in private persons to convene them, observing at the same time, that a head was now formed for those who wished for the recovery of liberty, if the people generally would let their endeavours accompany those of the senate; and if, as the fathers refused to attend in senate, they should in like manner refuse to enlist. Such were the general topics of discourse among the commons; while of the senators, there was scarcely one in the Forum, and very few in the city. Disgusted with the times, they had retired to their country-seats; and, being deprived of their share in the administration of the public business, attended solely to their private affairs; thinking, that, by removing to a distance from the meeting and converse of their tyrannic masters, they were out of the reach of ill-treatment. Not meeting according to summons, apparitors were despatched to all their houses, to levy the penalties, and at the same time to discover whether their non-attendance was owing to design; and these brought back an account that the members of the senate were in the country. This gave less pain to the decemvirs, than if they had heard that they were in town, and refused to obey their commands. They then gave orders, that every one of them should be summoned, and proclaimed a meeting of the senate on the day following, when the members assembled in much greater numbers than the decemvirs themselves had hoped. This raised a suspicion in the minds of the commons, that the senators had deserted the cause of liberty, since they had paid obedience, as to a legal summons, to the order of men whose office had expired, and who, except so far as force prevailed, were nothing more than private citizens.
XXXIX. But, by all accounts, they showed more obedience in coming to the house, than servility in delivering their sentiments. It is related, that after Appius Claudius had proposed the business to be considered, and before the opinions were demanded in order, Lucius Valerius Potitus occasioned a great ferment, by insisting on being allowed to speak on the state of the commonwealth; and, when the decemvirs endeavoured to prevent him, by declaring, that he would go out and apply to the commons. It is likewise said that Marcus Horatius Barbatus entered the lists with no less boldness, calling them “ten Tarquinii, and putting them in mind, that the Valerii and Horatii were among the foremost in effecting the expulsion of the Kings. Nor was it the title merely, which had then given people so much offence; for it was one which was properly applied to Jupiter, one which had been applied to Romulus, the founder of the city, and to the princes his successors; and which was still retained in the religious institutions, and even considered as material to the performance of the sacred rites. It was the haughtiness, the violence of Tarquin, which then filled them with abhorrence; and if these were not to be borne, in a person who was, at the time, a king, and the son of a king, who would bear them in so many private citizens? Let them take care, lest, by forbidding men to speak with freedom in the senate-house, they might oblige them to utter their sentiments in another place. Nor did he see how he, in his private capacity, had less right to call the people to an assembly, than they, to convene the senate. Let them try, whenever they chose, how much more forcibly a sense of injuries would operate in vindication of liberty, than ambition in retaining usurped authority. They had proposed the Sabine war as the business to be considered: as if the Roman people had any more important war on their hands, than against those, who, having been created for the purpose of framing laws, had left no law remaining in the state; who had abolished elections; abolished annual magistrates; abolished the regular changing of the chief magistrate, the only means of preserving the balance of liberty; who, standing in the rank of private citizens, kept possession of the fasces and of regal sovereignty. After the expulsion of the kings, there were patrician magistrates; afterwards, on the secession of the commons, plebeian magistrates were created. Of which party were the decemvirs?” he asked, “Were they of the popular party? In what business did they ever look for the concurrence of the people? Were they of that of the nobility? who, during almost a whole year, never held a meeting of the senate; and, now, hold it in such a manner, that people are not allowed to speak of the state of the commonwealth. Let them not rely too much on the timidity of their fellows; for men feel more sensibly the weight of present sufferings, than of such as exist only in apprehension.”
XL. While Horatius was exclaiming in this manner, and the decemvirs knew not how either to gratify their anger, or to pass over the provocation, nor could judge how the business would end, Caius Claudius, uncle to Appius, addressed him in a speech, fraught with intreaties rather than reproaches; besought him by the shade of his own brother, the decemvir’s father, “to pay more regard to the rights of that civil society in which he was born, than to a confederacy, formed on the most flagitious principles. This he requested, more earnestly on Appius’s account, than even on that of the commonwealth; for the commonwealth would, doubtless, be abundantly able to assert its own rights, in spite of any resistance which the then magistrates could make; but that, as great contests generally excited great animosities, he could not, without horror, think of what might be the consequence.” Although the decemvirs had refused liberty to speak on any subject, but the business which they had proposed, yet such was their respect for Claudius, that they did not interrupt him; he proceeded, therefore, in his discourse, which he concluded, with moving a resolution, that no decree of the senate should be passed. This was considered by every one, as importing that, in the judgment of Claudius, they were but private citizens, and many of the consulars expressed their approbation. Another measure was proposed, more harsh in appearance, but much less efficacious; it was, to order the patricians to assemble and appoint an interrex: for that the passing of any resolution would be an acknowledgment that the persons, who convened the senate, were invested with some office; whereas the member, who recommended that no resolution should pass, meant thereby to declare them private citizens. When the cause of the decemvirs was thus sinking into ruin, Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis, brother to Marcus Cornelius, the decemvir, having been purposely reserved from among the consulars to close the debate, under the pretence of anxiety about the war, supported his brother and his colleagues thus: “He wondered,” he said, “by what fatality it happened, that those, who had been themselves candidates for the decemvirate, were the persons who, either as secondaries or principals, waged this attack on the decemvirs; and why they should now, at this particular time, when the enemy were just at the gates, take such pains to sow dissension among the citizens; while during so many months, wherein the attention of the state had been disengaged, no one ever made it a matter of dispute, whether those, who held the administration of the government, were legal magistrates or not; unless it were because they supposed, that, in a state of confusion, their conduct would not be so easily seen through. However, it was highly improper in any one to attempt to prejudice a cause of that magnitude, while men’s minds were occupied by more urgent concerns. It was his opinion, then, that the plea urged by Valerius and Horatius, that the office of decemvirs had expired on the ides of May, should be taken into consideration, and discussed by the senate, when the wars with which they were then threatened should be brought to a conclusion, and tranquillity restored to the state: that Appius Claudius should consider himself as having now received sufficient notice, that he must be ready to give an account of the proceedings of the assembly in which he, in quality of decemvir, had presided, and in which the decemvirs were elected, whether they were appointed for one year, or until the laws, then wanting, should be ratified. It was also his opinion, that, for the present, every other business, except the war, should be laid aside; and that, if they imagined that the reports concerning it were propagated without foundation, and that not only the couriers, but the Tusculan ambassadors, had conveyed false intelligence, then that scouts should be despatched to procure more certain information; but that, if they gave credit to the couriers and the ambassadors in that case, troops should be levied without delay, and the decemvirs should lead armies to whatever places each should think proper. He repeated, that no other business ought to take place, until this was disposed of.”
XLI. This resolution was carried, on a division, by means of the young patricians. Valerius and Horatius then, with greater vehemence, renewed their efforts, and loudly demanded permission to speak more particularly on the state of the commonwealth, declaring, that “if by a faction they were prevented from delivering their sentiments in the senate, they would appeal to the people; for that private men had no right to hinder them from speaking, either in the senate house, or in a general assembly, nor would they give way to those men’s imaginary fasces.” Appius then, thinking the juncture so critical, that the authority of the decemvirate must be overpowered, unless the violence of their opposers were resisted with an equal degree of boldness, called out, that “whoever uttered a sentence, except on the business proposed, should have cause to repent;” and, on Valerius insisting that he would not be silenced by a private citizen, ordered a lictor to advance: Valerius, from the door of the senate-house, implored the protection of the citizens; when Lucius Cornelius embracing Appius, through concern for an effect so different from what he intended, put a stop to the contest, and procured Valerius permission to say what he chose. This producing nothing beyond words in favour of liberty, the decemvirs carried their point; and even the consulars and elder patricians, from inveterate hatred to the tribunitian office, which they supposed the people wished for with much more eagerness than for the consular government, would have been rather better pleased that the decemvirs themselves should, at some future time, voluntarily resign their office, than that, through means of the indignation of the public against them, the commons should rise again to consequence. They hoped, too, that if, by gentle management, the consular government should be restored, without the turbulent interposition of the populace, they might, either by the intervention of wars, or by the moderation of the consuls in the exercise of their authority, induce the commons to forget their tribunes. No objection being made by the patricians, a levy was proclaimed, and the young men, there being no appeal from the present government, answered to their names. When the legions were filled up, the decemvirs settled among themselves, who should go out with the troops, and who command the several armies. The leading men among the decemvirs were Quintus Fabius and Appius Claudius. It was evident that there would be a greater war at home than abroad. The violence of Appius was thought the better calculated for suppressing commotions in the city, as the disposition of Fabius had long been considered as rather wanting in good pursuits, than strenuous in bad; yet this man, hitherto highly distinguished both in civil and military conduct, was so entirely changed by his office of decemvir and the example of his colleagues, that he now chose rather to be like Appius, than like himself. To him was given in charge the war against the Sabines; and, along with him, were sent his colleagues Manius Rabuleius and Quintus Pætilius. Marcus Cornelius was sent to the territory of Algidum, with Lucius Minutius; Titus Antonius, Cæso Duilius, and Marcus Sergius, and it was determined that Spurius Appius should assist Appius Claudius in the management of affairs in the city, where they should have full authority, as if all the decemvirs were present.
XLII. Public affairs were conducted with no better success in war than at home. In this, the leaders were no farther to blame, than for having rendered themselves odious to their countrymen; in other respects, the fault lay entirely in the soldiery, who, rather than that any enterprise should succeed under the conduct and auspices of the decemvirs, suffered themselves to be overcome, to the disgrace of both. The armies were routed, both by the Sabines at Eretum, and by the Æquans in the country of Algidum. From Eretum the troops made a retreat in the dead of the night, and fortified a camp nearer to the city, on a high ground, between Fidenæ and Crustumeria, and, being pursued by the enemy, would not risk a battle on equal ground, but provided farther safety by the nature of the place and a rampart, not by valour and arms. In the country of Algidum greater disgrace and greater loss were sustained: even the camp was taken; and the soldiers, deprived of all their utensils, betook themselves to Tusculum, depending, for the necessaries of life, on the good faith and compassion of their hosts, who, on this occasion, did not disappoint their expectations. Such terrifying accounts were brought to Rome, that the senate, dropping the prosecution of their hatred to the decemvirs, passed an order, that watches should be held in the city; commanded all, who were of an age to bear arms, to mount guard on the walls, and to form outposts before the gates; they also decreed a supply of arms to be carried to Tusculum; that the decemvirs should come down from the citadel of Tusculum, and keep their troops encamped; and that the other camp should be removed from Fidenæ into the country of the Sabines, to the end that the enemy, feeling themselves attacked at home, might be deterred from operations against the city.
XLIII. To the calamities inflicted by the enemy, the decemvirs added two most flagitious deeds, one at home, and the other in the army. In the army which acted against the Sabines, a person, called Lucius Siccius, taking advantage of the general aversion from the decemvirs, and having frequently, in private conversation with the common soldiers, made mention of a secession, and of electing tribunes, they sent him on a party of observation, to choose ground for a camp, and gave instructions to the men whom they sent to attend on the expedition, that they should fall upon him in some convenient place, and put him to death. He did not fall unrevenged; for, though surrounded on all sides, he stood on his defence; and being possessed of extraordinary personal strength, and of spirit equal to his strength, he slew several of the assassins. The rest, on the return, gave out in the camp, that they had fallen into an ambush, and that Siccius was lost, after fighting with great bravery, and some of the soldiers with him. At first this story was believed: but afterwards, a cohort, which went, with permission of the decemvirs, to bury those who had fallen, observing that none of them were stripped; that Siccius, with his arms, lay in the middle, with the faces of all the others turned towards him, while not a trace could be found of the enemy having retreated from thence; they brought back the body, with an account that he was evidently slain by his own men. The camp was now filled with indignation; and it was resolved, that Siccius should be carried directly to Rome, which would have been put in execution, had not the decemvirs, as speedily as possible, buried him with military honours, at the public expense. His funeral was attended with great grief of the soldiery, and a general belief of guilt in the decemvirs.
XLIV. There followed, in the city, another atrocious proceeding, which took its rise from lust, and was not less tragical in its consequences than that which, through the injured chastity and violent death of Lucretia, had occasioned the expulsion of the Tarquinii from the throne and the city; so that the government of the decemvirs not only ended in the same manner as that of the kings, but was lost through the same cause. Appius Claudius was inflamed with a criminal passion towards a young woman of plebeian rank. The father of this young woman, Lucius Virginius, held an honourable rank among the centurions, in the camp near Algidum, a man of exemplary good conduct, both as a soldier and a citizen, and by the same principles were the behaviour of his wife, and the education of his family regulated. He had betrothed his daughter to Lucius Icilius, who had been tribune, a man of spirit, and of approved zeal in the cause of the commons. This maiden, in the bloom of youth, and of extraordinary beauty, Appius, burning with desire, had attempted to seduce by bribes and promises; but, finding every avenue to his hopes barred by modesty, he resolved to have recourse to violence. He gave instructions to Marcus Claudius, one of his dependents, that he should claim the young woman as his slave, and not submit to any demand which should be made, of her being left at liberty until the decision of the suit, thinking that the absence of the damsel’s father afforded the fittest opportunity for the injury which he meditated. As Virginia came into the Forum, (for the schools of learning were held there in sheds,) this minister of the decemvir’s lust laid his hand on her, and affirming that “she was a slave, and born of a woman who was his slave,” ordered her to follow him; threatening, in case of refusal, to drag her away by force. While the girl stood motionless through fright and astonishment, a crowd was collected by the cries of her nurse, who implored the protection of the citizens. The popular names of her father Virginius, and her spouse Icilius, were heard on every side. Their acquaintances were engaged in favour of the maiden, by their regard for them; and the multitude in general, by the heinousness of the proceeding. She was now secured from violence, when the claimant said “there was no occasion for raising a mob, he was proceeding by law, not by force,” and summoned the maiden to a court of justice. She being advised, by those who appeared in her favour, to follow him, they arrived at the tribunal of Appius. The claimant rehearsed the concerted farce before the judge, alleged that “the girl was born in his house, and had been clandestinely removed from thence to that of Virginius, her supposed father; that of this he had sufficient evidence, and would prove it even to the satisfaction of Virginius himself, the principal sufferer in the case; and it was reasonable,” he added, “that in the meantime, the servant should remain in the custody of her master.” The advocates for Virginia, pleading that Virginius was absent on business of the state, and would, were notice sent him, attend in two days’ time, and that it was unreasonable that a suit concerning his child should be carried on in his absence, demanded of Appius to adjourn all proceedings in the cause, until the father’s arrival; that, in conformity to the law which he himself had framed, he should leave her in the meantime in the enjoyment of her liberty; and not suffer a young woman of ripe age to encounter the hazard of her reputation, before the case of her freedom was determined.
XLV. Appius prefaced his decree with observing that “the very law, which Virginius’s friends held out as the foundation of their demand, was a proof how much he was inclined to favour liberty: however, that law could afford no firm security to liberty, if it were not invariable in the tenor of its operation, without regard either to causes or persons. In the case of those who, from servitude, claimed a right to freedom, the privilege mentioned was allowed, because any citizen can act in their behalf; but in the case of her, who was in the hands of her father, there was no other person to whom the owner should yield the custody of her. It was, therefore, his determination, that the father should be sent for; that, in the meantime, the claimant should suffer no loss of his right, but should take the maiden into his custody, and give security for her appearance, on the arrival of him who was alleged to be her father.” Whilst all murmured against the injustice of this decree, though not one had courage to oppose it, Publius Numitorius, the maiden’s uncle, and Icilius, her bethrothed spouse, arrived at the spot. The crowd having readily made way for them, because they were of opinion, that if any thing could stop the proceedings of Appius, it would be the interference of Icilius, the lictor called out, that “sentence was passed;” and, on Icilius making loud remonstrances, ordered him to retire. Even a cool temper would have been inflamed by such gross ill treatment; Icilius said, “Appius, you must drive me hence with the sword, before you shall accomplish, in silence, what you wish to be concealed. This young woman I intend to wed, and expect to find in her a lawful and a chaste wife. Call together then even all the lictors of your colleagues, order the rods and axes to be got ready: the spouse of Icilius shall not remain in any other place than her father’s house. Though you have taken from us the protection of tribunes, and an appeal to the Roman people, the two bulwarks which secured our liberty, yet there has been no grant made, to your lust of absolute dominion over our wives and daughters. Vent your fury on our persons and our lives; let chastity, at least, find safety. If any violence is offered to her, I shall appeal for succour to the citizens now present, in behalf of my spouse; Virginius will appeal to the soldiers in behalf of his only daughter; and all of us to the gods, and to all mankind: nor shall you ever carry that sentence into effect, while we have life to prevent it. I charge you, Appius, consider again and again to what lengths you are proceeding: let Virginius, when he comes, determine what measures he will pursue in regard to his daughter; only of this I would have him assured, that if he submits to this man’s claim of obtaining the custody of her, he must seek another match for his daughter: as for me, in vindication of the liberty of my spouse, I will forfeit my life sooner than my honour.”
XLVI. The passions of the multitude were now raised, and there was every sign of a violent contest ensuing. The lictors had gathered round Icilius, but proceeded, however, no farther than threats, when Appius said, “that the defence of Virginia was not the motive which actuated Icilius; but, turbulent by nature, and breathing, at that instant, the spirit of the tribuneship, he was seeking an occasion of sedition. He would not however, at that time, give him matter to work on: but, in order to convince him at once that this indulgence was granted, not to his petulance, but to the absent Virginius, to the name of father, and to liberty, he would not then decide the cause, nor interpose any decree; he would even request of Marcus Claudius to depart somewhat from his right, and suffer the maiden to be bailed until the next day. But if, on the next day, the father did not attend, he now gave notice to Icilius, and to persons like Icilius, that, as its founder, he would not fail to support his own law; nor, as decemvir, to show a proper degree of resolution: nor should he call together the lictors of his colleagues, to check the efforts of the fomenters of sedition, but be content with his own lictors.” The execution of his iniquitous design being thus deferred, the advocates of the girl having retired, resolved, first of all, that the brother of Icilius and the son of Numitorius, active young men, should set off directly, and with all possible haste call home Virginius from the camp, acquainting him that “the safety of the maiden depended on his being present in time next day to protect her from injury.” They set out the instant they received their directions, and, with all the speed their horses could make, carried the account to her father. In the meantime, the claimant of the maiden urged Icilius to profess himself a defendant in the cause, and to produce sureties. This, however, Icilius delayed, in order that the messengers despatched to the camp might gain the longer time for their journey, telling him that he was preparing to do so. The whole multitude on this held up their hands, and every one showed himself ready to be surety to Icilius. To them he replied, tears at the same time filling his eyes, “I am thankful for your goodness; to-morrow I will claim your assistance; at present, I have sufficient sureties.” Virginia was then admitted to bail on the security of her relations. Appius, after remaining on the tribunal for a short time lest he should seem to have sat merely for the sake of the present business, and finding that no one applied to him, the general anxiety about Virginia calling their attention from every other subject, retired to his house, and wrote to his colleagues in camp not to allow Virginius to leave it, and even to keep him in confinement. This wicked scheme, as it deserved, was too late to succeed; for Virginius, having already got leave of absence, had set out at the first watch; so that the letter for detaining him, which was delivered in the morning, necessarily produced no effect.
XLVII. In the city, a vast multitude of citizens were assembled in the Forum at day break, full of anxious expectation. Virginius, clad in mourning, and accompanied by a great number of advocates, led his daughter into the Forum, habited in weeds, denoting her distress, and attended by a number of matrons. There he began to solicit each man’s favour; and not only requested their aid, as a boon granted to his prayers, but demanded it as his due, reminding them, that, “he stood daily in the field of battle, in defence of their wives and children; nor was there any man who had given greater proof of valour and intrepidity in action than he had done. Yet what did this avail, if, while the city was secure from danger, their children were exposed to calamities as grievous as could be dreaded, if it were taken by an enemy?” With such discourses, uttered in a manner as if he were addressing a public assembly, he applied to the people individually. Icilius addressed them with like arguments; and the female attendants, by their silent tears, affected them more deeply than any words could do. Appius, whose mind was hardened against all such occurrences, violent madness, rather than love, having perverted his understanding, ascended the tribunal; and when the claimant had just begun to urge, that, “through partiality, he had refused yesterday to pronounce judgment in the cause;” Appius, without allowing him to proceed in statinghis claim, or giving Virginius an opportunity of answering, delivered his sentence. The discourse with which he introduced his decree some ancient writers have set down, perhaps with truth; but as I no where find any one that seems likely to have been used on occasion of such an iniquitous business, I think it best to represent the plain fact, of which there is no doubt: he decreed, that she should be held in bondage until the final decision. At first, all were struck motionless with astonishment at such an atrocious proceeding. Silence then prevailed for some time, afterwards, when Marcus Claudius went to seize the maiden, where she stood in the midst of the matrons, and was opposed by the women with lamentable cries of grief, Virginius, stretching forth his hands in a menacing attitude towards Appius, said, “Appius, I betrothed my daughter to Icilius, not to thee; and I have educated her for a wife, not for a harlot. Do you intend that men shall indulge their lust promiscuously like cattle and wild beasts? Whether these present will endure such things I know not: but those who carry arms, I hope, never will.” The claimant of the maiden being forced back, by the crowd of women and advocates who stood round her, silence was commanded by the crier.
XLVIII. The decemvir, whose mind was warped by his ungovernable lust, said, that “the abusive language of Icilius yesterday, and the violence of Virginius, now the whole Roman people were witnesses of, but that he had learned on good authority, that, during the whole night, cabals had been held for the purpose of stirring up sedition. Wherefore being aware of the disputes likely to ensue, he had come down with a band of men in arms, not with a design of injuring any person who should demean himself, but of punishing, in a manner suited to the majesty of government such as should presume to disturb the tranquillity of the state. It will, therefore (said he,) be your better way to remain quiet. Go, lictor, remove the crowd, and make way for the owner to seize his slave.” When, bursting with passion, he had thundered out these words, the multitude of themselves voluntarily separated, and the maiden stood forsaken a prey to injustice. Virginius then seeing no prospect of assistance from any quarter, said “Appius, I entreat you first, to make allowance for a father’s grief, if I have made use of too harsh expressions towards you; and next, to allow me here, in the presence of the maiden, to inquire of her nurse the truth of this affair; that, if I have been falsely called her father, I may depart hence with the more resignation.” Permission being granted, he drew the maiden and her nurse aside, to the sheds near the temple of Cloacina, now called the new sheds, and there, snatching a knife from a butcher, plunged it into his daughter’s breast, with these words: “In this manner, my child, the only one in my power, do I secure your liberty.” Then looking back on Appius, “With this blood, Appius,” said he, “I devote thee and thine head to perdition.” Appius alarmed by the cry raised at such a horried deed, ordered Virginius to be seized. But he, clearing a passage with the weapon wherever he went, and protected also by a great number of young men who escorted him, made his way to the gate. Icilius and Numitorius raised up the lifeless body, and exposed it to the view of the people, deploring the villainy of Appius, the fatal beauty of the maiden, and the necessity which had urged the father to the act. The matrons who followed joined their exclamations: “were these the consequences of rearing children? were these the rewards of chastity?” with other mournful reflections, such as are suggested by grief to women, and which, from the greater sensibility of their tender minds, are always the most affecting. The discourse of the men, and particularly of Icilius, turned entirely on their being deprived of the protection of tribunes, and consequently of appeals to the people, and on the indignities thrown upon all.
XLIX. The passions of the multitude were strongly excited, partly by the villainy of the decemvir, partly by their hopes that the occasion might be improved to the recovery of liberty. Appius now ordered Icilius to be called before him; then, on his refusing to attend, to be seized: at last, when the beadles were not suffered to come near him, he himself, with a band of young patricians, pushing through the crowd, ordered him to be taken into confinement. By this time, there had collected round Icilius, not only the multitude, but persons fit to head that multitude, Lucius Valerius and Marcus Horatius, who, driving back his lictor, told Appius, that “if he meant to proceed in a legal way, they would be security for Icilius, against any charge which he, as a private citizen, should bring. If he should attempt to make use of force, in that point too they would not be his inferiors.” A furious scuffle ensued. The decemvir’s lictor attacked Valerius and Horatius. The fasces were broken by the people. Appius then mounted the tribunal, whither he was followed by Horatius and Valerius; to these the assembly paid attention, but drowned the decemvir’s voice with noise. Valerius now assumed authority to order the lictors to depart from one who was but a private citizen; and then Appius, bereft of courage, and dreading for his life, covered his head, and, unobserved by his adversaries, made his escape into a house near the Forum. Spurius Oppius rushing into the Forum from the other side, in order to assist his colleague, saw their authority overpowered by force. After revolving several expedients, confused by listening to a multitude of advisers on every side, he at last commanded the senate to be summoned. This step calmed the minds of the populace, by giving them hopes, that as the conduct of the decemvirs seemed displeasing to the greater part of the patricians, their government would be abolished through the means of the senate. The senate gave their opinion, that the commons should not be farther exasperated; and that, above all things, care should be taken to hinder disturbances being excited in the camp on the arrival of Virginius.
L. Accordingly some of the younger patricians were sent to the camp, which, at that time, was on mount Vecilius, to caution the decemvirs to use their utmost efforts for preventing a mutiny among the soldiers. Here, Virginius caused greater commotions than he had left in the city: for, besides the notice which he attracted, by coming attended by a band of near four hundred men; who, incensed at the scandalous injustice done him, had accompanied him from the city; the unsheathed weapon, and himself being besmeared with blood, engaged the general attention, while gowns* being observed in many different parts of the camp, made the number of people from the city appear much larger than it was. Being asked the reason of all this, grief for a long time prevented Virginius from uttering a word. At length, when the crowd grew still, and silence took place, he related every circumstance in order as it passed. Then raising his hands towards heaven, besought his fellow-soldiers “not to impute to him the guilt which belonged to Appius Claudius, nor to abhor him as the murderer of his child. Declaring, that the life of his daughter was dearer to him than his own, could she have lived with honour and liberty. When he saw her dragged as a slave to violation, he thought it better that his child should be lost by death than by dishonour. Actuated by compassion, he had fallen under the appearance of cruelty: nor would he have survived his daughter, had he not looked to the aid of his fellow-soldiers, with hopes of revenging her death: for they also had daughters, sisters, wives; and the lust of Appius Claudius was not extinguished by the death of Virginia, but would be encouraged, by impunity, to rage with less restraint. They had now warning given them, in the calamity of another, to guard themselves against the like injury. As to what concerned himself, his wife had been torn from him by fate; his daughter, because she could not longer preserve her chastity, had fallen by an unfortunate but honourable death. There was now in his house no object for Appius’s lust; and from any other kind of violence which he could offer he would defend his own person with the same spirit with which he had rescued that of Virginia. Let others take care of themselves and of their children.” To these representations, uttered by Virginius in a loud voice, the multitude replied, with shouts, that they would not be backward in vindicating either his wrongs or their own liberty. At the same time, the gownmen intermixed with the crowd of soldiers, relating with sorrow the same circumstances, and observing how much more shocking they appeared to the sight than hearing, acquainting them also that the affairs of the decemvirs at Rome were desperate; while some, who came later, averred that Appius, having with difficulty escaped with life, was gone into exile. All this had such an effect on the soldiery, that they cried out, To arms! snatched up the standards, and marched towards Rome. The decemvirs, exceedingly alarmed, as well by the transactions which they saw, as by those which they heard had passed at Rome, ran to different parts of the camp, in order to quell the commotion. While they acted with mildness, they received no answer. If any of them offered to exert authority, he was answered, That they were men; and besides, had arms. The soldiers proceeded in a body to the city, and posted themselves on the Aventine, exhorting the commons, whenever they met any of them, to reassume their liberty, and create plebeian tribunes. No other violent expression was heard. Spurius Oppius held the meeting of the senate, when it was resolved, that no harsh measures should be used, because themselves had given occasion to the insurrection. Three consulars were sent as deputies to the mount, Spurius Tarpeius, Caius Julius, and Servius Sulpicius, to ask, in the name of the senate, by whose orders they had quitted the camp; or what was their intention in posting themselves, in arms, on the Aventine; in changing the direction of their hostile operations from the enemy, and by seizing a strong post in their native country. The revolters were at no loss what to answer; but they were at a loss for a person to give the answer, having not yet appointed any particular leader, and individuals not being very forward to take on themselves the invidious, and perhaps dangerous, office. The multitude only called out with one voice, that Lucius Valerius and Marcus Horatius might be sent, and to them they would give their answer.
LI. When the deputies were dismissed, Virginius reminded the soldiers, “how much they had been embarrassed in a case of no extraordinary difficulty, in consequence of their being a multitude without a head; and that the answer given, though not inexpedient, was the result rather of an accidental concurrence, than of a concerted plan: he recommended to them, therefore, to elect ten persons, who should preside in the direction of their affairs, and, in the style of military dignity, be called tribunes of the soldiers.” This honour being offered, in the first place, to himself, he said, “Reserve to a juncture more happy, both to you and me, such expressions of your good opinion of me. It is neither possible for me, while my daughter is unrevenged, to reap satisfaction from any honour, nor is it expedient for you, in the present disordered state of the commonwealth, to have those at your head who are most obnoxious to party malice. If I can be of any service, my remaining in a private capacity will in no degree prevent it.” They accordingly elected ten military tribunes. Nor was the army in the country of the Sabines inactive. There also, at the instance of Icilius and Numitorius, a secession from the decemvirs was made; men being no less strongly agitated by having the murder of Siccius recalled to their memory, than by the recent account of the barbarous attempt against the chastity of Virginia. When Icilius heard that tribunes of the soldiers had been elected on the Aventine, he feared lest the assembly of election in the city might follow the lead of the military assembly, and choose the same persons tribunes of the commons. Being well versed in popular intrigues, and aiming himself at that office, he took care that, before they proceeded to the city, the same number of soldiers, with equal powers, should be elected by the party then with him. They entered the city, in military array, through the Colline gate, and continued their march in a body through the middle of the city to the Aventine. There, in conjunction with the other army, they gave directions to the twenty tribunes of the soldiers to choose two out of their number, who were to hold the command in chief: they chose Marcus Oppius and Sextus Manilius. The senate were alarmed for the general safety, but though they sat every day, they spent more time in wrangling than in deliberation: the decemvirs were upbraided with the murder of Siccius, the lust of Appius, and the disgraces which they had incurred in war. It was resolved, at length, that Valerius and Horatius should proceed to the Aventine: but they refused to go thither, on any other terms than those of the decemvirs resigning the badges of office, their title to which had expired a year before. The decemvirs, remonstrating against the severity of degrading them to the common level, declared that they would not resign their authority, until the purpose of their election should be fulfilled, by the ratification of the laws.
LII. The commons, on being informed by Marcus Duilius, who had been plebeian tribune, that the time was passed by the patricians in continual disputes, and no business done, removed from the Aventine to the sacred mount: for Duilius had assured them, that “the senate would never attend seriously to the business, until they saw the city deserted; that the sacred mount would remind them of the firmness of the commons, and that they would then discover, that the reestablishment of concord was impracticable, without the restoration of the tribunitian office.” Marching along the Nomentan road, then called the Ficulnean, they encamped on the sacred mount, imitating the moderation of their fathers, in refraining from every act of violence. The army was followed by the commons, not one, whose age would permit him, refusing to go. Their wives and children attended their steps, asking, in melancholy accents, to whose care they were to be left, in such a city, where neither chastity nor liberty was safe? So general a desertion, beyond what was ever known, left every part of the city void, not a creature being even seen in the Forum, except a few very old men, when the senators were called into their house. Thus the Forum appearing entirely forsaken, many others, with Horatius and Valerius, began to exclaim, “Conscript fathers! how long will ye delay? If the decemvirs will not desist from their obstinacy, will ye suffer every thing to sink into ruin? And ye, decemvirs, what is this power which ye so positively refuse to part with? Do ye intend to administer justice to bare walls and empty houses? Are ye not ashamed, that the number of your lictors should exceed that of all the other citizens in the Forum? What do ye propose to do, should the enemy advance to the city? What, if the commons, finding that we are not moved by their secession, should presently come in arms? Do ye choose that your command should be terminated by the fall of the city? The case stands thus; either we must lose the commons, or they must have their tribunes. We would sooner part with our patrician magistrates, than they with the plebeian. The office of tribunes, when it was a thing unknown and untried, they extorted from our fathers; and it is much more improbable that, after having tasted the sweets of it, they will put up with its loss, especially as we do not exercise authority with such moderation, as to prevent their standing in need of protection.” Assailed by such arguments from every quarter, and overpowered by the united opinions of all, the decemvirs declared, that since it was judged necessary, they would submit to the orders of the senate. This only they requested, that they would afford them protection from the rage of the opposite party: warning them at the same time, not to suffer the commons, by the spilling of their blood, to come into the practice of inflicting punishment on patricians.
LIII. Valerius and Horatius were then deputed to invite the commons to return, on such conditions as they should judge proper, and to adjust all matters in dispute. They were ordered also to take measures, for securing the decemvirs from the rage and violence of the populace. On their arrival at the camp, they were received with excessive joy, as having evidently proved themselves the patrons of liberty, both at the commencement of the disturbances, and on the determination of the business. For this, they received thanks on their coming, Icilius addressing them in the name of the whole; and when they began to treat about conditions, the same person, on the deputies inquiring what were the demands of the commons, proposed, in pursuance of a plan which had been adjusted before their arrival, such terms as plainly evinced, that they grounded their expectations on the equity of their cause, rather than on their strength: for they only required the restitution of the tribunitian office, and the privilege of appeal, by which the rights of the commons had been guarded, before the creation of decemvirs; and, that no one should suffer for having instigated the soldiery, or the commons, to procure the restoration of liberty, by a secession. They were intemperate only in respect to the punishment of the decemvirs: for they expected that they should be delivered into their hands, and they threatened to burn them alive. In reply, the deputies said, “such of your demands, as have been the result of deliberation, are so equitable, that they ought to be voluntarily offered to you: for the object of them is the attainment of a security for liberty, not for unbounded licence to violate the rights of others. But the dictates of your resentment, we must rather pardon than indulge: for, through your detestation of cruelty, ye are precipitating yourselves into the very vice which ye abhor; and before ye can well be said to be free yourselves, ye wish to act the tyrant over your adversaries. Is our state never to enjoy rest from punishments, either inflicted by the patricians on the Roman commons, or by the commons on the patricians? Ye stand in need of a shield, rather than of a sword. It is abundantly sufficient to humble a man so far as that he shall live on an equal footing with the rest of his countrymen, neither offering nor enduring injury. Besides, should ye ever choose to render yourselves objects of terror, when ye shall have recovered your magistrates, and your laws, and shall have the power, in your hands, of deciding on our lives and fortunes, then ye will determine according to the merit of each case; at present it is sufficient to require the restoration of liberty.”
LIV. Having, with universal consent, received permission to act as they thought proper, the deputies assured them that they would speedily bring back a final settlement of the business; and, returning, reported to the senate the message from the commons. On which the other decemvirs, finding that, beyond their hopes, no mention was made of any punishment being reserved for them, raised no objection. Appius, stern in his nature, conscious that he was the object of particular detestation, and measuring the rancour of others towards him by his own towards them, said, “I am not blind to the fate which hangs over me. I see that violent proceedings against us are deferred until our arms are surrendered into the hands of our adversaries. Blood must be offered to the rage of the populace. I myself no longer demur to resign the office of decemvir.” A decree of the senate was then made, that “the decemvirs should, without delay, resign their office. That Quintus Furius, chief pontiff, should hold an election of plebeian tribunes, and that no one should suffer, on account of the secession of the soldiers and commons.” As soon as these decrees were finished, the senate was dismissed, and the decemvirs coming forth to the comitium, made a resignation of their office, to the extreme joy of all. News of this was carried to the commons. Whatever people there were remaining in the city, escorted the deputies. This was met by another procession from the camp, exulting with joy; and they mutually congratulated each other on the re-establishment of liberty and concord in the state. The deputies addressed the assembly thus: “Be it advantageous, fortunate, and happy to you, and to the commonwealth. Return into your native city, to your household gods, your wives and children: the same moderation, with which ye have behaved here, where, notwithstanding the great consumption of necessaries in so large a multitude, no man’s field had been injured, that moderation carry with you into the city. Go to the Aventine, whence ye removed. In that auspicious place, where ye took the first step towards liberty, ye shall elect tribunes of the commons: the chief pontiff will attend and preside in the assembly.” Great were the applauses given, and the cheerfullest approbation was shown of every thing which was done. They then hastily raised the standards; and, as they marched towards Rome, vied with such as they met in expressions of joy. They proceeded under arms, in silence, through the city to the Aventine. There, the chief pontiff holding an assembly, they instantly elected tribunes of the commons; first, Lucius Virginius; then Lucius Icilius, and Publius Numitorius, uncle of Virginia, the first advisers of the secession; then Caius Sicinius, a descendant of that man who is recorded as the first tribune of the commons, elected on the sacred mount; with Marcus Duilius, who had distinguished himself by his conduct in the tribuneship, before the creation of the decemvirs, and who, during the contest with them, had not failed to exert himself in the support of the common cause. At the same time were elected, rather on account of hopes entertained of their future conduct, than of their previous deserts, Marcus Titinius, Marcus Pomponius, Caius Apronius, Publius Villius, and Caius Oppius. Lucius Icilius, as soon as he entered on the office of tribune, proposed to the commons, and the commons ordered, that no person should suffer on account of the secession from the decemvirs. Immediately after, Duilius carried a proposition for electing consuls, with privilege of appeal. All this was transacted in an assembly of the commons in the Flaminian meadows, now called the Flaminian circus.
Y. R. 306. 446.LV. After this, under the direction of an interrex, consuls were elected. These were Lucius Valerius and Marcus Horatius, who entered immediately upon the exercise of their office. Their consulate was popular. But though unattended by any actual ill treatment of the patricians, it yet incurred their displeasure; for they imagined that whatever added to the liberty of the commons, was necessarily a diminution of their own power. First of all, as if it were a point in controversy, whether the patricians were bound by regulations enacted in an assembly of the commons, a law was passed in an assembly of the centuries, “that whatever was ordered by the commons collectively, should bind the whole people.” A law which gave the keenest edge to such propositions as might be introduced by the tribunes. Another law, introduced by a consul, concerning the right of appeal, (a singular security to liberty, and which had been subverted by the power granted to the decemvirs,) they not only revived, but guarded for the time to come, by further enacting, “That no magistrate should ever be chosen, from whom there should not be a right of appeal; and that if any person should cause the election of such, then it should be lawful and right to put that person to death, and the killing of him should not be accounted a capital offence.” When they had provided sufficient barriers for the commons, by the right of appeal on one side, and the aid of the tribunes on the other, they renewed to the tribunes themselves the privilege of being deemed sacred and inviolable, a matter which now had been almost forgotten, reviving also, for the purpose, certain ceremonies which had been long disused; and they not only rendered them inviolable by this religious institution, but by a law, enacting, that “whoever should offer injury to the tribunes of the commons, the ædiles, the judges, his person should be devoted to Jupiter, and his property confiscated at the temple of Ceres, Liber, and Libera.” Lawyers deny, than any one is thus rendered sacred and inviolable; but admit, that the person who does injury to any of the abovenamed, is deemed to be devoted. Accordingly, an ædile is sometimes seized, and put in confinement by superior magistrates; which, though it is not a legal proceeding, as offending against a person exempted by this law, is yet a sufficient proof that such person is not deemed sacred and inviolable. It is alleged, however, by some, that the tribunes became sacred and inviolable, in consequence of the old oath taken by the commons when they first created that office; while other expositors have supposed, that, by this Horatian law, the same exemptions were extended to the consuls also, the consuls being termed judges; and to the prætors, as being elected under the same auspices with the consuls. But that exposition is refuted by this argument, that in those times, it was not the custom, as it has been since, to call a consul, judge, but prætor. These were the laws proposed by the consuls. A regulation was also made by the same consuls, that the decrees of the senate should be deposited with the plebeian ædiles, in the temple of Ceres; they had hitherto been frequently suppressed and altered at the pleasure of the consuls. Marcus Duilius, plebeian tribune, afterwards proposed to the commons, and the commons enacted, that “whoever should cause the commons to be left without tribunes, or any magistrate to be elected from whom there was no appeal, should be punished with stripes and beheaded.” All these transactions, though highly disagreeable to the patricians, passed without opposition from them, because no severity was yet aimed at any particular person.
LVI. The tribunitian office and the liberty of the commons being thus fixed on a solid foundation, the tribunes, judging it now seasonable and safe to attack individuals, singled out Virginius as the first prosecutor, and Appius defendant. Virginius, having preferred a charge against Appius, and the latter coming to the Forum, attended by a crowd of young patricians, the sight of him and his attendants instantly recalled to every mind his shocking abuses of authority. Virginius then said, “Long speeches are only of use in cases of a doubtful nature. I shall, therefore, neither waste time in descanting before you on the guilt of this man, from whose cruelty ye have rescued yourselves by force of arms; nor will I suffer him to add impudence to his crimes, in endeavours to exculpate himself. Wherefore, Appius Claudius, I remit to you all the impious and flagitious deeds, which, during two years past you have dared to commit in constant succession. With respect to one charge, unless you name a judge, and engage to acquit yourself of having, contrary to the laws, sentenced a free person to slavery, I order that you be taken into custody.” Neither in the protection of the tribunes, nor in a sentence of the people, could Appius place any hope: yet he called on the tribunes for aid, and when that was disregarded, and he was seized by the bailiff, cried out, “I appeal.” This expression, the peculiar safeguard of liberty, uttered from that mouth which had so lately threatened the subversion of liberty, caused a general silence; whilst all with earnestness observed one to another, that “at length it appeared that there were gods, and that they did not disregard the affairs of mankind. That the punishments which attended pride and cruelty, though they might come late, were not light. That he now pleaded for the right of appeal, who had abolished that right: he implored the protection of the people, who had trodden under foot all the people’s rights; and he, who had so lately doomed a free person to slavery, was himself refused the privilege of liberty, and dragged to prison.” Amidst these murmurs of the assembly, Appius’s voice was also heard imploring the protection of the people. He enumerated “the services of his ancestors to the state, both in peace and war; his own unfortunate zeal for the interest of the Roman commons, when, for the sake of obtaining equitable laws, he resigned the consulship, to the high displeasure of the patricians: mentioning his own laws; and that while they yet remained in force, the framer of them was to be dragged to prison. But the peculiar advantages or disadvantages attending his case, he would endeavour to set in a proper light, when he should be allowed to make his defence. At present, by the common right of every member of the state, he, a Roman citizen, accused of an offence, demanded liberty of speaking in his own behalf, and the benefit of a trial before the Roman people. That his apprehensions from the popular rage were not so great as to deprive him of all hope from the equity and compassion of his countrymen. But if he was led to prison without being heard, he again called on the tribunes of the commons, and warned them not to follow the example of those who were the objects of their hatred. But should the tribunes acknowledge themselves to have combined in the same kind of confederacy, for abolishing the right of calling for their protection, which they charged the decemvirs with having formed, then he appealed to the people, and implored the benefit of the laws concerning appeals, passed that very year at the instance of the consuls and of the tribunes. For who was to appeal, if that privilege was refused to a person on whom no sentence was passed, and who had not been heard in his defence? What plebeian or person in a low station could expect to find protection in the laws, if Appius Claudius found none? His case would afford a proof, whether, by the new regulations, tyranny or liberty was established; and whether appeals to the tribunes and people, against the injustice of magistrates, were effectually granted, or only held out in show, to amuse the people with empty words.”
LVII. Virginius, on the other hand, affirmed, that Appius Claudius was the only person who was not entitled to any of the privileges of the laws, nor of civil nor even of human society: desired people to “look at the tribunal, that fortress, where every kind of wickedness had been exercised with impunity, where that perpetual decemvir, venting his fury on the goods, the persons, and lives of the citizens, threatening all with his rods and axes, showing an utter contempt both of gods and men, encompassed with executioners, not lictors, changing at length his pursuits from rapines and murders to the gratifications of lust, had, before the eyes of the Roman people, torn a free-born maid from the embraces of her father, as if she had been a captive taken in war, and given her as a present to one of his clients, the pander of his secret pleasures; where, by a cruel decree, and a decision dictated by the blackest villainy, he armed the hand of a father against his child; where, more strongly affected by the disappointment of his unruly passion than by her untimely death, he had ordered the uncle and spouse of the maid, while employed in raising her lifeless body, to be dragged to prison. The prison was built for him as well as for others, though he used to call it the mansion of the Roman commons. Wherefore, however frequently he might appeal, he would as frequently insist on his abiding the decision of a judge, on the charge of his having sentenced a free person to slavery. And if he declined appearing before a judge, would now order him, as convicted, to be carried into confinement.” Accordingly he was thrown into prison, a step, which, though disapproved by none in point of justice, yet gave occasion to much serious reflection; the commons themselves considering their power as carried rather too far, in the punishment inflicted on a person of such consequence. The tribune deferred the trial to a distant day. Meanwhile ambassadors came to Rome from the Latines and Hernicians, with congratulations on the re-establishment of concord between the patricians and commons, and, as an offering on that account to Jupiter, supremely good and great, carried to the Capitol a golden crown, of small weight, as riches at that time did not abound, and the worship of the gods was performed with greater piety than magnificence. The same persons also brought information that the Æquans and Volscians were preparing for war with the utmost vigour. The consuls were, therefore, ordered to divide the provinces between them. The Sabines fell to Horatius, the Æquans and Volscians to Valerius: and so highly were they regarded by the commons, that, on proclaiming a levy of troops for those wars, not only the younger men, but even a great number of those who had served out the legal time, attended, mostly as volunteers, to give in their names. Thus the strength of the army was increased beyond what was usual, not only in respect of number, but also of the kind of soldiers that composed it: a considerable proportion of them being veterans. Before they marched out of the city, they engraved on brass, and fixed up, in public view, the laws of the decemvirs, which are called the “Twelve Tables;” some writers, however say, that this business was performed by the ædiles, in pursuance of orders from the tribunes.
LVIII. Caius Claudius, uncle to Appius, detesting the iniquitous proceedings of the decemvirs, and, above all, disgusted at the arrogant conduct of his nephew, had retired to Regillum, the country of his ancestors. Alarmed, however, at the danger which now threatened the man whose vices he had fled to avoid the sight of, old as he was, he returned, in hopes of deprecating the impending mischief. He appeared in the Forum, clad in a mourning habit, and surrounded by his relations and dependants, implored the favour and protection of every individual citizen he met with, and besought them, “not to throw such a stain upon the Claudian family, as to show that they thought them deserving of imprisonment and chains; represented to them, that a person, whose image would be revered among posterity, as distinguished by the highest honours, the framer of their laws, the founder of the Roman jurisprudence, lay in fetters among common thieves and robbers. He begged that they would for a while suspend resentment, and employ their thoughts in candid examination and cool reflection; and grant to the intercession of such a number of Claudii, the pardon of one individual, rather than through hatred towards that one, reject the prayers of a multitude: declaring, that he himself, in his present conduct, was actuated merely by a regard to the race and to the name: for he had not renewed any friendly intercourse with him for whose wretched situation he wished to find a remedy: that, by fortitude, liberty had been recovered; and by clemency, harmony might be established among the several orders of the state.” He brought several to incline to his side, rather in consideration of such laudable attachment to his family, than of the merits of him whose cause he espoused. On the other hand, Virginius besought them, “rather to bestow their compassion on himself and daughter. He prayed them not to listen to the supplications of the Claudian family, but to those of the near relations of Virginia, the three tribunes; who, having been elected for the protection of the commons, now, in their own cause, implored from those commons favour and protection.” The tears of the latter seemed the more entitled to pity. Wherefore Appius, precluded from all hope, voluntarily put an end to his life, before the day arrived to which the trial had been adjourned. Immediately after, Publius Numitorius arraigned Spurius Oppius, who stood next in the way of the public indignation, as having been present in the city when the unjust sentence was pronounced by his colleague. However, an act of injustice, committed by himself, drew on Oppius greater weight of resentment than his conduct in regard to Appius. A soldier stood forward, who reckoned up twenty-seven campaigns, in which he had served; during which service, he proved that he had been eight times particularly distinguished by honourable rewards. These rewards he produced to the view of the people; and then, throwing open his garment, he showed his back mangled with stripes; begging no other terms of favour, than that “unless the accused (Spurius Oppius) could name any one offence of which he (the soldier) had ever been guilty, he then should have liberty, though a private citizen, to repeat the same cruel treatment towards him.” Oppius was thrown into prison, and before the day of trial put an end to his life. The tribunes confiscated the property of Appius and Oppius. Their colleagues went into exile, and their property was confiscated. Then Marcus Claudius, who laid claim to Virginia, was brought to trial and condemned; but Virginius himself agreeing to a mitigation of the sentence, so far as it affected his life, he was discharged, and also went into exile to Tibur. And now the shade of Virginia, whose cause was best supported after her death, having roamed through so many families in quest of vengeance, rested in peace, none of the guilty being left unpunished.
LIX. The patricians were now filled with dreadful apprehensions,—for the tribunes seemed to wear the same countenance which had formerly marked the decemvirs,—when Marcus Duilius, tribune of the commons, imposed a salutary restraint on their power, tending, as it was, to excess, by telling them, “We have proceeded to a sufficient length, both in asserting our liberty, and in punishing our enemies. Wherefore, during the remainder of this year, I will not suffer any person either to be brought to trial, or to be put into confinement. For I think it highly improper, that old crimes, now buried in oblivion, should be again dragged forth to notice, and after recent ones have been expiated by the punishment of the decemvirs. Add to this, that we have sufficient security, in the unremitting attention ever shown by both our consuls to the interests of liberty, that no instance of misconduct will henceforth occur, which can require the interposition of the tribunitian power.” This moderation of the tribune first dissipated the fears of the patricians; and, at the same time, increased their ill-will towards the consuls; for they had been so entirely devoted to the interest of the commons, that even a plebeian magistrate had shown more readiness to consult the liberty and safety of the patricians, than they who were themselves of that order. Indeed their enemies were weary of inflicting punishments on them, before the consuls showed any intention of opposing the violence of those measures; and many said, that the senate had betrayed a want of firmness in giving their approbation to the laws proposed: in fact, there was not a doubt, but that in this troubled state of the public affairs, they had yielded to the times.
LX. After all business in the city was adjusted, and the rights of the commons firmly established, the consuls departed to their respective provinces. Valerius prudently delayed engaging with the armies of the Æquans and Volscians, who had by this time formed a junction in the district of Algidum. Had he attempted to bring the matter to an immediate decision, such was the state of mind, both of the Romans and of their enemies, in consequence of the misfortunes which had attended the auspices of the decemvirs, that I know not whether the contest could have been decided without a heavy loss. Pitching his camp at the distance of a mile from that of the united army, he kept his men quiet. The enemy filled the middle space, between the two camps, with their troops, in order of battle, and gave several challenges to fight, to which no Roman returned an answer. Fatigued at length with standing, and waiting in vain for an engagement, the Æquans and Volscians, considering this as almost equivalent to an acknowledgment of the victory in their favour, detached several parties to make depredations, some against the Hernicians, others against the Latines; leaving rather a guard to the camp, than such a force as could contend with the Romans. As soon as the consul understood this, he retorted the menaces which they had before used to him, and drawing up his troops, advanced to provoke them to battle: and when, in consequence of so great a part of their force being absent, they declined to fight, the Romans instantly assumed fresh courage, and looked upon those troops as already vanquished, who, through fear, kept within their rampart. After remaining the whole day in readiness for action, they retired at the close of it. The Romans, on their part, full of confidence, employed the night in refreshing themselves, while the enemy, very differently affected, despatched messengers in the utmost hurry to every quarter, to call in the plundering parties. Such as were in the nearest places returned with speed; those who had gone to a greater distance could not be found. At the first dawn, the Romans marched out of their camp, resolved to assault the enemy’s rampart, if they should refuse to fight, and, when a great part of the day had passed, and no movement was made by the enemy, the consul ordered the troops to advance. On the army beginning to march, the Æquans and Volscians, indignant that victorious troops were to be defended by a rampart, rather than by valour and arms, demanded the signal for battle, in which they were gratified by their leaders. And now, half of them had got out of the gates, and the rest followed in regular order, marching down each to his own post, when the Roman consul, before the enemy’s line could be completed, and strengthened with their whole force, advancing to the engagement, fell on them, and thus encountering an unsteady multitude, who were hurrying from one place to another, and throwing their eyes about on themselves and their friends, he added to their confusion by a shout, and a violent onset. They at first gave ground, but afterwards collected their spirits, their leaders on every side asking them in reproach, if they intended to yield to vanquished enemies; and the fight was renewed.
LXI. On the other side, the Roman consul desired his troops to reflect, that, “on that day, for the first time, they as free men, fought for Rome, as a free city; that they were to conquer for themselves, and not in order to become a prize to the decemvirs; that they were not acting under the orders of Appius, but of their consul Valerius, descended from the deliverers of the Roman people, and, himself, one of their deliverers. He bade them show, that in the former battles the failure of victory had been owing to the leaders, not to the soldiers. He told them, it would be scandalous to evince a greater courage against their countrymen than against their enemies, and to be more afraid of slavery at home, than abroad; that Virginia had not, perhaps, been the only person whose chastity was in danger in time of peace; but that Appius, their countryman, was the only one from whose lust danger was to be dreaded; and that, should the fortune of war turn against them, the children of every one of them would be in like hazard, from so many thousands of enemies. That he was unwilling, on account of the omen, to mention such things, as neither Jupiter, nor Father Mars, would suffer to happen to a city built under such auspices.” He put them in mind of the Aventine and sacred mounts, and that “they ought to bring back dominion unimpaired to that spot, where a few months ago they had obtained liberty; to show that the Roman soldiers retained the same abilities after the expulsion of the decemvirs, which they had possessed before their appointment, and that the valour of the Roman people was not diminished by the establishment of laws which equalized their rights.” After speaking to this purpose among the battalions of the infantry, he flew from thence to the cavalry. “Come on young men,” said he, “show that ye excel the infantry in valour, as ye excel them in honour and in rank. The infantry at the first onset have made the enemy give way; before they recover the shock, give the reins to your horses, and drive them out of the field; they will not stand against your charge, and even now they rather hesitate than resist.” They spurred on their horses, and drove furiously against the enemy, already disordered by the attack of the foot; and after they had broken through the ranks, and pushed on to the rear of their line, a part, wheeling round in the open space, cut off their retreat to the camp, towards which the greater number now began to fly on all sides; and, by riding on before, compelled them, through fear, to take another course. The line of infantry, with the consul himself, and the main body of the army, rushed into the camp, and made themselves masters of it, killing a vast number, and getting possession of considerable booty. The news of this victory was carried both to the city, and to the camp in the country of the Sabines: in the city it excited only general joy; in the camp it fired the minds of the soldiers with emulation of the glory their fellow soldiers had acquired. Horatius had already inured them to the field by excursions and skirmishes, so that they began rather to place confidence in themselves, than to think of the ignominy which had been incurred under the command of the decemvirs; while these slight engagements had strengthened their hopes with regard to a general one. The Sabines, at the same time, who were rendered presumptuous by their successes in the last year, ceased not to provoke and urge them to fight; asking, “why they wasted time in excursions and retreats like marauders; and, instead of making one main effort to decide a single war, multiply their operations into a number of insignificant skirmishes. Why not come to a general engagement in the field, and let fortune determine the victory at once?”
LXII. The Romans, besides that they had now acquired a high degree of courage, were exasperated at the dishonour which it would reflect on them, if the other army were to return victorious to Rome, while they lay exposed to the abuse and insults of the enemy: “and when,” said they, “shall we ever be a match for that enemy, if we are not at present?” When the consul understood that such were the sentiments generally expressed by the soldiers in the camp, he called them to an assembly and said, “Soldiers, I suppose ye have heard the issue of the campaign in Algidum; the army have behaved as became the army of a free people. Through the judicious conduct of my colleague, and the bravery of the soldiers, victory has been obtained. For my part, what plan I am to adopt, or what degree of resolution I am to maintain, depends upon you. The war may either be prolonged with advantage, or it may be brought to a speedy conclusion. If it is to be prolonged, I shall take care, that, through means of the same discipline with which I began, your hopes and your valour shall every day increase. If ye have already sufficient courage, and wish for a speedy decision, come on, raise here a shout, such as ye would raise in the field. That will demonstrate at once your inclinations and your spirit.” The shout being given with uncommon alacrity, he assured them, that, “with the good favour of fortune, he would comply with their desire, and next morning lead them to the field.” The remainder of that day was spent in putting their arms in order. On the following, as soon as the Sabines perceived that the Romans were forming their line of battle, they also marched out, having for a long time ardently wished for an opportunity of fighting. The battle was such as might be expected, between armies both of whom were assured of their own courage; the one animated by a long and uninterrupted career of glory, the other lately elevated by unusual success. The Sabines added to their strength the advantage of a stratagem; for, after forming a line equal to that of the enemy, they kept two thousand men in reserve, who were to make a push during the heat of the engagement on the left wing of the Romans. These, by attacking their flank, were likely to overpower that wing, which was thus, in a manner, surrounded, when the cavalry of two legions, amounting to about six hundred, leaped from their horses, and rushing forward to the front of their party who were giving way, stopped the progress of the enemy, and at the same time roused the courage of the infantry, both by taking an equal share of the danger, and by exciting their emulation; for they reflected, that it would be shameful that the horse should incur double danger, by discharging both their own duty and that of others; and that the foot should not be equal to the horse, even when they were dismounted.
LXIII. They pressed forward therefore to the fight, which on their part had been suspended, and endeavoured to recover the ground which they had lost. In a moment they were on an equality, while one wing of the Sabines was compelled to give way. The horsemen then, covered between the ranks of the foot, returned to their horses, and galloped across to the other division; they carried with them an account of this success; and, at the same time, made a charge on the enemy, disheartened by the defeat of their stronger wing. None displayed in that battle more conspicuous bravery than themselves. The consul’s attention was every where employed. He commended the active, and reproved the remiss. These immediately, on being rebuked, exerted themselves with spirit; shame stimulating them as powerfully, as commendation had done the others. The shout being raised anew, and all uniting their efforts, they drove the enemy from their ground, and then the force of the Romans could no longer be resisted; the Sabines abandoned their camp, and were dispersed all over the country. The Romans here recovered not the property of their allies, as was the case in Algidum, but their own, which they had lost in the devastation of the country. For this victory, obtained in two battles, and in different places, the senate, so unwilling were they to gratify the consuls, decreed a supplication, in their name, of one day only. The people, however, went in great numbers on the second day also, to offer thanksgivings, and which they did with rather greater zeal than before. The consuls by concert came to the city within a day of each other, and called out the senate to the field of Mars; where, while they were relating the services which they had performed, the principal members began to complain, that the senate was purposely held in the midst of the soldiers, to keep them in terror. The consuls therefore, to take away all ground for such a charge, removed the assembly into the Flaminian meadows, to a place where the temple of Apollo now stands, called, even at that time, the Circus of Apollo. Here, a vast majority of the senators concurring in refusing a triumph to the consul, Lucius Icilius, tribune of the commons, proposed to the people, that they should take on them the ordering of it. Many stood forth to argue against this proceeding; particularly Caius Claudius exclaimed, that “it was over the patrieians, not over the enemy, that the consuls sought to triumph; and that more as a return for their private kindness to a tribune, not as an honour due to valour. That a triumph was a matter which had never, hitherto, been directed by the people; but that the judgment on the merit, and the disposal of it, had always been in the senate. That even the kings had not in this respect derogated from that order, the principal one in the state. He charged the tribunes not to occupy every department so entirely with their own authority, as to leave no room for the deliberation of the public; and asserted, that by no other means could the state be free, or the laws equalized, than by each class maintaining its own rights, and its own dignity.” Though many arguments were used to the same purpose by the other and elder senators, yet every one of the tribes approved of the proposition. This was the first instance of a triumph celebrated by order of the people, without the approbation of the senate.
LXIV. This victory of the tribunes and commons was very near terminating in a wanton irregularity of pernicious tendency, a conspiracy being formed among the tribunes to procure the re-election of the same persons to that office; and, in order that their own ambition might be the less conspicuous or objectionable, to re-elect also the same consuls. They alleged, as a pretext, a combination of the patricians to sap the foundation of the rights of the commons, by the affronts which they threw upon the consuls. “What would be the consequence,” they said, “if, before the laws were firmly established, consuls should, with the power of their factions, make an attack on the new tribunes! For they could not always have Valerii and Horatii for consuls, who would postpone their own interest, when the liberty of the commons was in question.” By a concurrence of circumstances, fortunate at this juncture, the charge of presiding at the election fell to the lot of Marcus Duilius, a man of prudence, and who clearly perceived what a heavy load of public displeasure they would probably have to sustain, if they should be continued in office. He declared, that he would admit no vote for any of the former tribunes; while his colleagues strenuously insisted, that he should leave the tribes at liberty to vote as they thought proper; or else, should give up his turn of presiding to his colleagues, who would hold the election, according to the laws, rather than according to the pleasure of the patricians. Duilius, on finding a contest thus forced upon him, called the consuls to his seat, and asked them what was their intention with respect to the consular election. To which they answered; that they were resolved to appoint new consuls. Having thus gained popular supporters of his unpopular measure, he advanced together with them into the assembly. The consuls being there brought forward, and asked, in what manner they would act, should the Roman people, out of gratitude for having, by their means, recovered their liberty and for their meritorious and successful services in war, appoint them a second time to the consulship, declared the same resolution as before. On which, Duilius, after many eulogiums paid to them for persevering in a line of conduct quite different from that of the decemvirs, proceeded to the election; and when five tribunes of the commons were elected, the other candidates not being able to make up the requisite number of tribes, on account of the eagerness with which the nine tribunes openly pushed for the office, he dismissed the assembly, and did not afterwards call one. He said, that he had fulfilled the law; which, without any where specifying the number of tribunes, only enacted, that tribunes should be left; and he recited the terms of the law, in which it is said, “If I propose ten tribunes of the commons, and if there should at that time be found a less number than ten tribunes, then the persons whom these shall assume as colleagues, shall be legal tribunes of the commons, with the same privileges as those whom ye on that day made tribunes of the commons.” Duilius, persevering to the last, and declaring the commonwealth could not have fifteen tribunes, after baffling the ambition of his colleagues, resigned his office, with high approbation both from the patricians and the plebeians.
Y. R. 307. 445.LXV. The new tribunes of the commons showed, in their election of colleagues, an inclination to gratify the patricians. They chose two, who were patricians and even consulars, Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Aterius. The consuls, then elected, were Largius Herminius and Titus Virginius Cœlimontanus, men not warmly attached to either party, patricians or plebeians. They had a peaceful year both at home and abroad. Lucius Trebonius, tribune of the commons, a bitter enemy to the patricians, because; as he said, he had been imposed on by them, and betrayed in the affair of choosing colleagues, carried a proposal that whoever took the votes of the commons on the election of plebeian tribunes, should continue the proceedings until he should return ten of that order. The whole time of being in office was passed in creating uneasiness to the patricians, from whence the surname of Asper (harsh) was given him.Y. R. 308. 444. Marcus Geganius Macerinus and Caius Julius, the next consuls chosen, prevented the ill effects of some combinations, formed by the tribunes against the young nobles, without taking any violent steps against those magistrates, and, at the same time preserving unhurt the dignity of the patricians. Wishing to give time for the matter to cool, they restrained the commons from rising in sedition by a proclamation for a levy of troops, to act against the Æquans and Volscians; giving, as a sufficient reason, that while harmony prevailed in the city, every thing abroad was also quiet, but whenever civil discord broke out, their foreign enemies assumed new courage. This care to preserve peace abroad, proved the cause of domestic concord. But each of the orders always took an improper advantage of moderation in the other. As soon as the commons grew tranquil, the younger patricians began to insult them. When the tribunes attempted to protect the weaker party, even at first they were of little use; afterwards, they themselves incurred ill-treatment, particularly in the latter months, because the combinations, then formed among the more powerful, encouraged them to it, while the vigour of every magistracy generally relaxes somewhat at that time. And now the commons began to think that they had nothing to hope from their tribunes, unless they procured such as Icilius, for those whom they had for two years past were but nominal tribunes. On the other side, the elder patricians, although they were convinced that the younger part of their body carried their presumption too far, yet were better pleased, if the bounds of moderation were to be exceeded, that those of their own order should possess a redundancy of spirit, than should their adversaries. So difficult it is to preserve moderation in the asserting of liberty, while, under the pretence of a desire to balance rights, each elevates himself in such a manner, as to depress another; for men are apt, by the very measures which they adopt to free themselves from fear, to become the objects of fear to others; and to fasten upon them the burthen of injustice, which they have thrown off from their own shoulders: as if there existed in nature a perpetual necessity, either of doing or of suffering injury.
Y. R. 309. 443.LXVI. The next consuls elected were Titus Quintius Capitolinus a fourth time, and Agrippa Furius, who found, at the commencement of their year, neither sedition at home, nor war abroad, but reason sufficient to apprehend both. The citizens could no longer be kept within bounds, both tribunes and commons being highly exasperated against the patricians, and every charge brought against any of the nobility constantly embroiling the assemblies and creating new contests. As soon as these were noised abroad, the Æquans and Volscians, as if they had waited for this signal, immediately took up arms; being, at the same time, persuaded by their leaders, who were eager for plunder, that the levy which had been proclaimed the last year had been found impracticable, the commons refusing obedience; and that, for that reason, no army had been sent against them; that their military discipline was subverted by licentiousness, and that Rome was no longer considered as their common country; that all the resentment and animosity which they had entertained against foreigners, was now turned against each other, and that there was a favourable opportunity of destroying those wolves, while they were blinded by intestine rage. Having therefore united their forces, they laid waste the country of Latium; where, none attempting to obstruct them, and the promoters of the war highly exulting, they advanced to the very walls of Rome, carrying on their ravages opposite to the Esquiline gate, and insulting the city. From thence, they marched back without molestation, in regular order, driving the prey before them to Corbio. Quintius the consul then summoned the people to an assembly.
LXVII. There, as we are told, he spoke to this purpose: “Although unconscious of any misconduct on my part, yet it is with the utmost shame, Romans, that I am come here, to meet you in assembly. That ye should be witnesses of such an event, that it should be handed down, on record, to posterity; that, in the fourth consulate of Titus Quintius, the Æquans and Volscians, who, a short time ago, were barely a match for the Hernicians, should have marched in arms, without molestation, to the walls of the city of Rome! Could I have foreseen that this ignominy was reserved for this particular year, though such is the general state of manners for a long time past, such the condition of affairs, that my mind could presage no good, I would yet have avoided this honourable post, by exile or by death, if there had been no other way of escaping it. Could Rome then have been taken in my consulship, if those arms, that were at our gates, had been in the hands of men of courage? I had enjoyed enough of honours, more than enough of life: I ought not to have outlived my third consulship. But, of whom have those once dastardly enemies dared to show such contempt; of us consuls? or of you Romans? If the fault lies in us, we should be deprived of the command, as unworthy of it, and if that be not enough, inflict some farther punishment: if in you, may no divine, or human being chastise your transgressions, only may ye yourselves gain a proper sense of them. They have not been actuated to this conduct, as supposing you void of spirit, nor from confidence in their own valour. After being so often routed and put to flight, beaten out of their camps, stripped of their territories; and sent under the yoke, they well know both themselves and you. Party dissensions are the bane of this city; the struggles between the patricians and the plebeians, while neither we fix due limits to our authority, nor ye to your liberty; while ye wish to get rid of patrician, we of plebeian magistrates, they have assumed unusual courage. In the name of the gods, what would ye have? Ye wished for tribunes of the commons; for the sake of concord, we granted them to you. Ye longed for decemvirs; we allowed them to be created. Ye grew weary of decemvirs; we compelled them to resign the office. Your resentment against them continuing, even after they were devested of their public character, we suffered men of the most distinguished families and stations, some to perish, and others to go into exile. Ye wished again to create tribunes of the commons; ye created them. Although we saw manifest injustice to the nobles in electing men of your order to the consulship; yet have we beheld patrician magistracy, along with the rest, conceded to the commons. The tribunes’ power of protecting the privilege of appeal to the people; the acts of the commons rendered binding on the patricians; our own rights subverted, under the pretext of equalizing the laws; all this we have endured, and still endure. Where, then, will be the end of our dissensions? Shall we never be allowed to have an united city and one common country? We, the party vanquished, sit down in quiet, with greater composure, than ye who have gained the victory. Do ye think it enough, that to us ye are objects of terror? The Aventine is taken from us; the sacred mount is seized. But when the Esquiline is almost in the hands of the enemy, no one appears in its defence. The Volscian foe scales your rampart, and not a man drives him back. Against us ye exert your courage, against us ye readily take arms.”
LXVIII. “Now then that ye have blockaded the senate-house, rendered the Forum the seat of hostilities, and filled the prison with the principal citizens, show an equal degree of valour, and march out through the Esquiline gate; or if ye have not courage for that, view from the walls your lands desolated with fire and sword, your own property carried off, and the burning houses smoking all round. But ye will say, it is the public interest that suffers by these means, by the country being wasted with fire, the city besieged, and the enemy enjoying the honour of the war. Be it so; but I will ask in what situation are your private affairs? Soon will you hear from the country accounts of your losses: and what means have ye, at home, of procuring a compensation for them? Will the tribunes bring back, will they restore what ye have lost? Words they will load you with, until ye are tired, and accusations against the principal citizens, and laws upon laws, and public meetings; but, from these, never did one of you return home with an increase of substance or fortune. Let me see any, who ever carried thence aught to his wife and children, except hatreds, quarrels, animosities, public and private; from the ill effects of which, indeed, ye have always been screened, not however by your own merit and innocence, but by the protection of others. But I will affirm, that, when ye used to make your campaigns, under the command of consuls, not of tribunes, in the camp, not in the Forum; when your shout used to strike terror into the enemy in the field, not into the Roman nobles in an assembly; after enriching yourselves with plunder, taking possession of your adversaries’ lands, and acquiring a plentiful stock of wealth and glory, both to the public and to yourselves; then, I say, ye returned home in triumph to your families; now, ye suffer these invaders to depart laden with your property. Continue immoveably tied to your assemblies, and live in the Forum; still the necessity of fighting, which ye so studiously avoid, attends you. Was it too great a hardship to march out against the Æquans and Volscians? The war is at your gates. If not repelled from thence, it will shortly be within the walls. It will scale the citadel and the capitol, and will pursue you, even into your houses. A year ago, the senate ordered a levy to be made, and an army to be led into Algidum. Yet we sit at home in listless inactivity, delighted with the present interval of peace, scolding each other like women, and never perceiving, that, after that short suspension, wars double in number must return upon us. I know that I might find more agreeable topics to dwell upon; but even though my own disposition did not prompt to it, necessity compels me to speak what is true, instead of what is agreeable. I sincerely wish, Romans, to give you pleasure; but I feel wishes, much more ardent, to promote your safety, let your sentiments respecting me afterwards be what they may. It results from the nature of the human mind, that he who addresses the public with a view to his own particular benefit, is studious of rendering himself more generally agreeable than he who has no other object but the advantage of the public. But perhaps ye imagine that it is out of regard to your individual interests, that those public sycophants, those artful flatterers of the commons, who neither suffer you to carry arms, nor to live in peace, excite and stimulate your passions. When they have once raised you in a ferment, the consequence to them is, either honour or profit. And because they see that, while concord prevails between the orders of the state, they are of no consequence on any side, they wish to be leaders of a bad cause, rather than of none, of tumults even, and seditions. Which kind of proceedings, if ye can at length be prevailed on to renounce; and, if ye are willing, instead of these new modes of acting, to resume those practised by your fathers, and formerly by yourselves, I am content to undergo any punishment, if I do not within a few days rout and disperse those ravagers of our country, drive them out of their camp, and transfer from our gates and walls, to their own cities, the whole terror of the war, which at present fills you with consternation.”
LXIX. Scarcely ever was the speech of a popular tribune more acceptable to the commons, than was this of a consul remarkable for strictness. Even the young men who were accustomed to consider a refusal to enlist, in such times of danger, as their most effectual weapon against the patricians, began to turn their thoughts towards war and arms. At the same time the inhabitants flying from the country, and several, who had been robbed there and wounded, relating facts still more shocking than what appeared to view, filled the entire city with a desire of vengeance. When the senate assembled, all men turned their eyes on Quintius, regarding him as the only champion for the majesty of Rome; and the principal senators declared, “that his discourse had been worthy of the consular command, worthy of his former administration in so many consulships, worthy of his whole life, which had been filled up with honours, often enjoyed, and oftener merited. That other consuls either flattered the commons, so far as to betray the dignity of the senate, or through the harshness of their measures, in support of the rights of their order, exasperated the populace by their attempts to reduce them; but that Titus Quintius, beyond all others, had delivered sentiments suitable, at once, to the dignity of the senate, to the harmony which ought to subsist between the several orders, and to the juncture of the times: and they entreated him and his colleague, to exert themselves in behalf of the commonwealth. The tribunes they intreated to unite cordially with the consuls in repelling the enemy from their walls, and to bring the commons to submit, at this perilous juncture, to the direction of the senate. Their common country, they told them, at that crisis, when the lands were laid waste, and the city besieged, called on them as tribunes, and implored their protection.” With universal approbation, a levy of troops was decreed. The consuls gave public notice in assembly, that “they could not now admit excuses, but that all the young men must attend next day at the first light, in the field of Mars: that, when the war should be brought to a conclusion, they would appoint a time for considering such matters, and that he whose excuse was not satisfactory should be treated as a deserter.” All the young men attended accordingly. The cohorts chose each its own centurions, and two senators were appointed to command each cohort. We are told, that all these measures were executed with such expedition, that the standards brought out from the treasury on that same day by the quæstors, and carried down to the field of Mars, began to move from thence at the fourth hour; and that this new-raised army, with a few cohorts of veterans who followed as volunteers, halted at the tenth stone. The following morning brought them within view of the enemy, and they pitched their camp close to theirs, near Corbio. On the third day they came to an engagement; the Romans being hurried on by desire of revenge, and the others by consciousness of guilt, and despair of pardon, after so many rebellions.
LXX. In the Roman army, although the two consuls were invested with equal powers, yet they adopted a measure exceedingly advantageous in all important exigences. The supreme command was, with the consent of Agrippa, lodged in the hands of his colleague, who being thus raised to a superiority, made the politest return for the other’s cheerful condescension to act in a subordinate capacity; making him a sharer in all his counsels and honours. In the line of battle, Quintius commanded the right wing, Agrippa the left; the care of the centre they entrusted to Spurius Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general; and that of the cavalry to another lieutenant-general, Servius Sulpicius. The infantry, in the right wing, fought with extraordinary valour, and met with a stout resistance from the Volscians. Servius Sulpicius, with the cavalry, broke the centre of the enemy’s line, and when he might have returned to his own station, he thought it more adviseable to make an attack on the rear of the enemy, before they could recover from the disorder into which their ranks had been thrown. By his charge on their rear, the enemy, being assailed on both sides, must have been instantly dispersed, had not the cavalry of the Volscians and Æquans, throwing themselves in his way, given him employment for a considerable time, opposing him with forces the same as his own. On this Sulpicius told his men, that there was no time to hesitate; and called out that they were surrounded and cut off from their friends, if they did not unite their most vigorous efforts, and rout the enemy’s cavalry: nor was it enough to drive them off the ground, without disabling them; they must kill both horses and riders, lest any should return and renew the fight. The enemy, he said, were not able to withstand them, to whom a compact body of infantry had been obliged to give way. His orders were obeyed with alacrity. By one charge they routed the whole body of cavalry, dismounted vast numbers, and killed with their javelins, both the men and horses. They met no farther obstruction from the cavalry. And now falling on the line of infantry, they despatched an account of their success to the consuls, before whom the enemy’s line was beginning to give ground. The news gave fresh spirit to the Romans, to pursue their advantage; while it dismayed the Æquans, who were already wavering. Victory began to declare against them, first in the centre, where the charge of the cavalry had disordered their ranks: their left wing next began to retreat before the consul Quintius: the greatest struggle was made by their right: there Agrippa, full of the ardour inspired by youth and vigour, when he saw every part of the Roman line more successful than his own, snatched some of the ensigns from the standard-bearers, and carried them forward himself: some he even threw into the thick of the enemy; and the dread of the disgrace to which this might expose them, so animated the soldiers, that they instantly rushed on. This rendered the victory equally decisive in every quarter. At this juncture, a message was brought to him from Quintius, that he had defeated the enemy, and was ready to attack their camp; but did not choose to break into it, until he should understand that the battle was determined on the left wing also; and desiring that if he had completed the discomfiture there, he would march up his troops to join him, that the whole army might take possession of the prize. Agrippa, now victorious, met his victorious colleague with mutual congratulations; and, in conjunction with him, advanced to the enemy’s camp; where, meeting very few to oppose them, and these being instantly routed, they forced their way through the fortifications without difficulty; and the troops having here acquired an immense booty, besides recovering their own effects which had been lost in the plundering of the country, were then led home. I do not find, either that the consuls sued for a triumph, or that it was bestowed on them by the senate: neither is there any reason assigned why they either did not wish, or might not hope to obtain that honour. It might probably be, as far as I can conjecture at this distance of time, that as this mark of approbation had been refused by the senate to the consuls Valerius and Horatius, who, besides having vanquished the Volscians and Æquans, had acquired the glory of subduing the Sabines also, the consuls were ashamed to demand a triumph for services which amounted only to the half of theirs; lest, even if they should obtain it, there might be room to imagine that the compliment was paid to the persons rather than to their deserts.
LXXI. This honourable victory obtained over their enemies, the people disgraced at home, by a scandalous decision of a dispute concerning the boundaries of their allies. The people of Aricia, and those of Ardea, had often contended in arms the right of property to a certain district of land, and, wearied by many losses on both sides, referred the affair to the arbitration of the Roman people. Both parties attended to support their claims, and an assembly was held by the magistrates at their request. Here the matter was debated with great vehemence; and after the witnesses had been produced, when the tribes ought to have been called, and the assembled proceed to give their suffrages, there arose one Publius Scaptius, a plebeian, a very old man, who said, “Consuls, if I may be permitted to speak on a matter which concerns the interest of the commonwealth, I will not suffer the people to proceed in a mistake, with respect to this affair.” The consuls saying, that he was not worthy of attention, and should not be heard, he exclaimed, that the cause of the public was betrayed; and on their ordering him to be removed, called on the tribunes for protection. The tribunes, who in almost every case are rather ruled by, than rule the multitude, to gratify the populace, gave liberty to Scaptius to say what he pleased. He then began with informing them, that “he was in his eighty-third year, that he had served as a soldier in the very district in dispute, and was not young even then, that being his twentieth campaign, when the operations against Corioli were carried on. He could, therefore, speak with knowledge of an affair, which, though after such a length of time it was generally forgotten, was deeply fixed in his memory. The lands in dispute, he said, had belonged to the territory of Corioli, and when Corioli was taken, became, by the right of war, the property of the Roman people. He wondered by what precedent the Ardeans and Aricians could justify their expectations, of surreptitiously wresting from the Roman state, by making it an arbiter instead of proprietor, its right to a tract, to which, while the state of Corioli subsisted, they had never advanced any kind of claim. For his part, he had but a short time to live; yet he could not prevail on himself, old as he was, to decline asserting by his voice, the only means then in his power, a title to those lands, which, by his vigorous exertions as a soldier, he had contributed to acquire: and he warmly recommended it to the people, not to be led by improper notions of delicacy, to pass a sentence subversive of their own rights.”
LXXII. The consuls, when they perceived that Scaptius was heard, not only with silence, but with approbation, appealed to gods and men against the infamy of the proceeding; and, sending for the principal senators, went round with them to the tribes, beseeching them “not to be guilty of a crime of the worst kind, which would afford a precedent still more pernicious, by converting to their own use a matter in dispute, whereon they were to decide as judges. Especially when, as the case stood, although it were allowable for a judge to show regard to his own emolument, yet the utmost advantage that could accrue from the seizure of the lands, would by no means counterbalance the loss which they must sustain in the alienation of the affections of the allies, by such an act of injustice: for the loss of reputation and the esteem of mankind are of importance beyond what can be estimated. Must the deputies carry home this account? Must this be made known to the world? Must the allies, must the enemy hear this? What grief would it give to the former, what joy to the latter! Did they imagine, that the neighbouring states would impute this proceeding to Scaptius, an old babbler in the assemblies? This indeed would serve, instead of a statue, to dignify the Scaptian name; but the Roman people would incur the imputation of corrupt chicanery and fraudulent usurpation of the claims of others. For what judge, in a cause between private persons, ever acted in this manner, adjudging to himself the property in dispute? Surely, even Scaptius himself, dead as he was to all sense of shame, would not act in such a manner.” Thus the consuls, thus the senators exclaimed; but covetousness, and Scaptius, the instigator of that covetousness, had greater influence. The tribes being called, gave their judgment; that the land in question was the property of the Roman people. It is not denied, that it might with justice have been so determined, had the matter been tried before other judges: but, as the affair was circumstanced, the infamy of the determination was in no degree lessened by the equity of their title; nor did it appear to the Aricians and Ardeans themselves in blacker or more hideous colours than it did to the Roman senate. The remainder of the year passed without any commotion either at home or abroad.
[* ]Justitium; quia jus sistebatur. In cases of great and immediate danger, all proceedings at law were suspended; the shops also were shut, and all civil business stopped, until the alarm was over.
[* ]The lustrum was a period of five years, at the expiration of which a general review of the people was held, and their number, state, and circumstances inquired into. The senate also was reviewed by one of the censors: and if any one, by his behaviour, had rendered himself unworthy of a place in that body, or had sunk his fortune below the requisite qualification, his name was passed over by the censor, in reading the roll of senators; and thus he was held to be excluded from the senate. When the business was done, the censor, to whose lot it fell, condidit lustrum, closed the lustrum, by offering a solemn sacrifice in the Campus Martius.
[* ]The Decuman gate was in the rear of the encampment. For the order and disposition of a Roman camp, see Adam’s Roman Antiquities.
[* ]The ovation was an inferior kind of triumph, in which the victorious general entered the city, crowned with myrtle, not with laurel; and instead of bullocks, as in the triumph, sacrificed a sheep, ovis; hence the name.
[* ]These were the famous sibylline books, purchased, it was said, by Tarquinius Superbus, from an old woman whom nobody knew, and who was never seen again. These books, which were supposed to contain prophetic information of the fate and fortune of the Roman state, were carefully reposited in a stone chest, in a vault under the Capitol, and two officers chosen from the order of patricians, called duumviri sacrorum, appointed to take care of them. The number of these was afterwards in creased to ten, half of whom were plebeians; then to fifteen, upon which occasion they were called Quindecemviri; which name they retained when augmented to sixty. Upon occasions of extreme danger, of pestilence, or the appearance of any extraordinary prodigies, these officers were ordered by the senate to consult, or to pretend to consult, the books, and they reported what expiations and other rites were necessary to avert the impending evil.
[* ]A part of the town, so called.
[* ]9l. 13s. 6d.
[* ]As the prætors could not attend the trial of every cause, they always had a list of persons properly qualified, called judices selecti, out of whose number, as occasion required, they delegated judges to act in their stead. These select judges were chosen in an assembly of the tribes, five out of each tribe; and the prætor, according to the importance or the difficulty of the cause in dispute, appointed one or more of them to try it. This office was, at first, confined to the senators; but was, afterwards, transferred to the knights; and was, at different times, held sometimes by one of these bodies, sometimes by the other, and sometimes in common between them both. The usual method of proceeding was this: the plaintiff either named the judge, before whom he summoned the defendant to appear, which was termed feire judicem; or he left the nomination to the defendant, ut judicem diceret, and when they had agreed on the judge, quum judicem convenisset, they presented a joint petition to the prætor, praying that he would appoint, ut daret, that person to try the cause; and, at the same time, they bound themselves to pay a certain sum of money, the plaintiff, ni ita esset, if he should not establish his charge; the defendant, if he should not acquit himself.
[† ]37l. 10s.
[* ]The citizen’s dress, different from that of the military.