A law, permitting the intermarriage of plebeians with patricians, carried, after a violent struggle and strong opposition on the part of the patricians. Military tribunes, with consular power, created. Censors created. The lands which were taken from the people of Ardea, by an unjust determination of the Roman people, restored. Spurius Mælius, aiming at regal power, slain by Caius Servilius Ahala. Cornelius Cossus, having killed Tolumnius, king of the Veientians, offers the second opima spolia. The duration of the censorship limited to a year and a half. Fidenæ educed, and a colony settled there. The colonists murdered by the Fidenatians, who are reconquered by Mamercus Æmilius, dictator. A conspiracy of slaves suppressed. Postumius, a military tribune, slain by the army, exasperated by his cruelties. Pay first given to the soldiers out of the public treasury. Military operations against the Volscians, Fidenatians, and Faliscians.
Y. R. 310. 442.I.The next who succeeded in the consulship were Marcus Genucius and Caius Curtius, whose year was disturbed by commotions, both at home and abroad. For, in the beginning of it, Caius Canuleius, a tribune of the people, proposed a law, for allowing the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians, which the former considered as tending to contaminate their blood, and to confound all the distinctions and privileges of noble birth. Some hints, too, suggested by the tribunes, that liberty ought to be granted of choosing one of the consuls from among the commons, were afterwards improved, to such a degree, that the other nine tribunes proposed a law, that the people should have power of electing consuls, either from among the commons or the patricians, as they should think fit. The patricians were of opinion, that if this took place, the supreme authority would not only be shared with the very lowest ranks, but perhaps be entirely removed out of the hands of the nobility into those of the plebeians. With great joy, therefore, they received intelligence, that the people of Ardea, in resentment of the injustice of the sentence which had deprived them of their land, had revolted; that the Veientians were laying waste the Roman frontiers, and that the Volscians and Æquans expressed great discontent on account of the fortifying of Verrugo, preferring even a war, which promised not success, to an ignominious peace. These tidings being brought, with exaggerations, the senate, in order to silence the intrigues of the tribunes during the bustle of so many wars, ordered a levy to be held, and preparations for hostilities to be made with the utmost diligence, even with more despatch, if possible, than had been used in the consulate of Titus Quintius. On which Caius Canuleius declared aloud in the senate, that “the consuls would in vain think of diverting the attention of the commons from the new laws, by holding out objects of terror to their view, and that, while he was alive, they should never hold a levy, until the people had first ratified the laws proposed by him and his colleagues;” and then he instantly called an assembly.
II. Whilst the consuls were employed in rousing the indignation of the senate against the tribune, the tribune was as busy in exciting the people against the consuls. The latter asserted that “the outrageous proceedings of the tribunes could not be any longer endured; that matters were now come to a crisis, there being more dangerous hostilities excited at home than abroad; that for this the commons were not more to be blamed than the senate, nor the tribunes more than the consuls. In any state, whatever practices meet with rewards, these are always pursued to the greatest degree of proficiency, and these are the incitements which call forth merit, both in peace and war. Now, at Rome, there was nothing so highly rewarded as sedition; this was in every instance attended with honours both to individuals and to collective bodies. They ought therefore carefully to consider, in what condition they had received the majesty of the senate from their fathers, and in what condition they were likely to hand it down to their children; whether they could make the same boast which the commons might, with respect to their privileges, that it was improved both in degree and in splendor. No end appeared of these proceedings, nor would, so long as the fomenters of sedition were rewarded with honours in proportion to the success of their projects. What were the new and important schemes which Caius Canuleius had set on foot? No less than the prostitution of the privileges of nobility, and the confounding the rights of auspices, both public and private; that nothing might be left pure and unpolluted; and that, every distinction being removed, no person might know what himself was, nor to what order he belonged. For what other tendency had such promiscuous intermarriages, than to produce an irregular intercourse between patricians and plebeians, not very different from that between brutes? So that, of their offspring, not one should be able to tell, of what blood he was, or in what mode he was to worship the gods, being in himself a heterogeneous composition, half patrician and half plebeian? And, not content with the confusion which this would create in every affair, divine and human, those incendiaries, the tribunes, were now preparing to invade the consulship itself. At first they had ventured no farther than to sound people’s sentiments in conversation, on a plan of one of the consuls being elected from among the commons; now, they publicly proposed a law, that the people might appoint consuls, either from among the patricians, or from among the plebeians, as they should think fit; and there could be no doubt that they would appoint from among the commons the most seditious that could be found. The Canuleii and Icilii therefore would be consuls. But might Jupiter supremely good and great forbid, that the imperial majesty of the sovereign power should sink so low as that, and for their part, they would rather die a thousand deaths, than suffer such disgrace to be incurred. They were confident, that could their ancestors have foreseen, that, in consequence of unlimited concessions, the commons, instead of showing a better temper towards them, would become more intractable, and, as fast as they obtained their demands, would advance others more unreasonable and exorbitant, they would have struggled at first with any difficulties whatever, rather than have allowed such terms to be imposed on them. Because a concession was then made to them with respect to tribunes, it was for the same reason made a second time. This would be the case for ever. Tribunes of the commons, and a senate, could not subsist together, in the same state: either the office of the former, or the order of the latter, must be abolished, and it was better late than never, to endeavour to put a stop to presumption and temerity. Must they with impunity, after they have, by sowing discord, encouraged the neighbouring nations to attack us, prevent the state afterwards from arming and defending itself against the attack which they have brought on it? and, when they had done every thing but send an invitation to the enemy, prevent troops from being enlisted to oppose that enemy? But Canuleius has had the audacity to declare openly in the senate, that he would hinder the making of the levy, unless the senate, acknowledging in a manner his superiority, allowed his laws to be enacted. What else was this, than to threaten that he would betray his country: that he would suffer it to be attacked, and to fall into the enemy’s hands? What courage must that declaration afford, not to the Roman commons, but to the Volscians, to the Æquans, and Veientians? Might not these hope, that, under the guidance of Canuleius, they would be able to scale the capitol and the citadel; might they not hope this, if the tribunes, while they stripped the patricians of their privileges and their dignity, robbed them also of their courage?” The consuls concluded by saying, that they were ready to act as their leaders, first against the wicked practices of their countrymen; and afterwards, against the arms of their enemies.
III. At the very time while such arguments as these were urged in the senate, Canuleius was employed in declaiming in favour of his laws, and against the consuls, in the following manner: “Roman citizens! in many former instances I have seen enough to convince me in what degree of contempt the patricians hold you, how unworthy they esteem you to live in the same city, within the same walls with them. But this is now more clearly than ever demonstrated by their outrageous opposition to those propositions of ours. And this, for what? unless for reminding them thereby that we are members of the same community with themselves; and that, though we possess not the same degree of power, we are yet inhabitants of the same country. By the one, we require the liberty of intermarrying with them, a liberty usually granted to people of the neighbouring states, and to foreigners: for we have admitted even vanquished enemies to the right of citizenship, which is of more importance than that of intermarriage. By the other, we offer no innovation, we only reclaim and enforce an inherent right; that the Roman people should commit the high offices of the state to such persons as they think proper. And what is there in this, that can justify the patricians in thus disturbing heaven and earth? Their treatment of me just now, in the senate, very little short of personal violence? Their open declarations that they will have recourse to force, and their threatening to insult an office which has been held sacred and inviolable? Can the city no longer subsist, if the Roman people are allowed to give their suffrages with freedom, and to intrust the consulship to such persons as they may approve; or must the downfall of the empire ensue, if a plebeian, how worthy soever of the highest station, is not precluded from every hope of attaining to it? And does the question, whether a commoner may be elected consul, carry the same import, as if a person spoke of a slave, or the issue of a slave, for the consulship? Do ye not perceive, do ye not feel, in what a despicable view ye are considered? Were it in their power, they would hinder you from sharing even the light of the sun. That ye breathe, that ye enjoy the faculty of speech, that ye wear the human shape, are subjects of mortification to them. But then they tell you, that truly it is contrary to the rules of religion that a plebeian should be made consul. For heaven’s sake though we are not admitted to inspect the records,* or the annals† of the pontiffs, are we ignorant of the things which even every foreigner knows? That consuls were substituted in the place of kings; and consequently have no kind of privilege or dignity which was not possessed before by kings? Do ye suppose that we never heard it mentioned, that Numa Pompilius, not only no patrician, but not even a citizen of Rome, was invited hither from the country of the Sabines and made sovereign at Rome, by the order of the people, and with the approbation of the senate? That Lucius Tarquinius, of a race which, so far from being Roman, was not even Italian, the son of Demaratus a Corinthian, having come hither a stranger from Tarquinii, was raised to the like high station, though the sons of Ancus were alive? That after him Servius Tullius, the son of a captive woman of Corniculum, his father not known and his mother in servitude, obtained the crown, through his abilities and merit? Need I speak of Titus Tatius, the Sabine, whom Romulus himself, the founder of this city, admitted into partnership in the throne? The consequence was, that while no objection was made to any family, in which conspicuous merit appeared, the Roman empire continually increased. It well becomes you to show disgust, now, at a plebeian consul; though our ancestors disdained not to call foreigners to the throne, nor even after the expulsion of the kings, ever shut the gates of the city against foreign merit. It is well known, that we since admitted the Claudian family from among the Sabines, not only into the number of citizens, but even into that of the patricians. May a person, then, from a foreigner, become a patrician, and in consequence, consul; and shall a citizen of Rome, if he be a commoner, be cut off from every hope of the consulship? Is it deemed impossible that a plebeian can be a man of fortitude and activity, qualified to excel in peace and war, like Numa, Lucius Tarquinius, and Servius Tullius? Or, should such appear, shall we still prohibit him from meddling with the helm of government? In a word shall we choose to have consuls rather resembling the decemvirs, the most profligate of mankind, who in their time were all patricians, than like the best of the kings, who were new men?”*
IV. “But it is argued, that since the expulsion of the kings, there has been no instance of a plebeian consul. What then? Is no new institution ever to be known? Must every measure not heretofore practised, (and in a new state there must be many measures not yet introduced into practice,) be therefore rejected, even though it should be evidently advantageous? In the reign of Romulus, there were neither pontiffs nor augurs; Numa Pompilius introduced them. There was no such thing in the state as a general survey, and distribution of the centuries and classes, until instituted by Servius Tullius. There was a time when there never had been consuls; on the expulsion of the kings they were created. Of a dictator neither the office nor name had existed; in the time of our fathers it was introduced. There had never been tribunes of the commons, ædiles or quæstors; and yet it was resolved that those offices should be created. The office of decemvirs for compiling laws, we ourselves have, within the last ten years, both created and abolished. Who is not convinced that in a city, founded for eternal duration, and growing up to an immense magnitude, many new offices both civil and religious, many new rights, both of families and individuals, must necessarily be instituted. This very rule, prohibiting the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians, was it not enacted by the decemvirs within these few years, with the utmost injustice towards the plebeians, on a principle highly detrimental to the public? Can there be any insult greater or more flagrant, than that one half of the state, as if it were contaminated, should be held unworthy of intermarrying with the other? What else is this than, within the same walls, to suffer all the evils of rustication or of exile? They are anxious to prevent our being united to them by any affinity or consanguinity; to prevent our blood from being mingled with theirs. What! if this would be a stain on that nobility, which the greater number of you the progeny of Albans and Sabines, possess not in right of birth or of blood, but of cooptation into the body of the patrician; having been elected, either by the kings, or after their expulsion, by order of the people, could ye not preserve its purity by regulations among yourselves? By neither taking plebeian wives nor suffering your daughters and sisters to marry out of the patrician line? No plebeian will offer violence to a noble maiden; such outrageous lust is to be found only among nobles. None of them would compel any man against his will to enter into a marriage contract. But it is the prohibition of it by a law, the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians being interdicted; this is what the commons must consider as an insult. Why do ye not procure a law to be passed, that the rich shall not marry with the poor? A matter which in all countries has been left to the regulation of people’s own prudence; that each woman should marry into whatever family she has been betrothed to; and each man take a wife from whatever family he had contracted with; this ye shackle with the restraints of a most tyrannical law, whereby ye tear asunder the bands of civil society, and split one state into two. Why do ye not enact, that a plebeian shall not dwell in the neighbourhood of a patrician? that he shall not travel on the same road? That he shall not appear at the same entertainment? That he shall not stand in the same Forum? For what more material consequence can in reality ensue, should a patrician wed a plebeian woman, or a plebeian a patrician woman? What alteration is thereby made in the rights of any person? Surely the children follow the condition of the father. So that neither have we any advantage in view, from intermarriage with you, except that of being considered on the footing of human beings and of fellow-citizens; nor is there any reason for contesting the point, unless ye feel pleasure in labouring to subject us to scorn and insult.”
V. “In fine, let me ask you, whether is the supreme power vested in the Roman people, or in you? Was the expulsion of the kings intended to procure absolute dominion to yourselves, or equal freedom to all? Is it fitting that the Roman people should have the power of enacting such laws as they choose? or whenever any matter of the kind has been proposed to their consideration, shall ye, by way of punishment, pass a decree for a levy of troops? And as soon as, in capacity of tribune, I shall begin to call the tribes to give their suffrages, will you, in the office of consul, compel the younger citizens to take the military oath, and lead them out to camp? Will you menace the commons? Will you menace their tribune? As if ye had not already experienced, on two several occasions, how little such menaces avail against the united sense of the people. I suppose it was out of regard to our interests, that ye did not proceed to force; or was the avoiding of extremities owing to this that the party which possessed the greater share of strength, possessed also a greater degree of moderation? Romans, there will now be no occasion for force. Those men will on every occasion make trial of your patriot spirit: your strength at home they will never try. Wherefore, consuls, to those wars, whether real or fictitious, the commons are ready to attend you, provided that by restoring the right of intermarriage, ye at length unite the state into one body; provided they are allowed to coalesce, to intermix with you by the ties of relationship; provided the road to honours shall be laid open to men of industry and abilities; provided, in short, they are allowed to stand on the footing of partners and associates in the commonwealth; and, what is the natural result of equal freedom, be admitted in the rotation of annual magistracies, to obey and to command in turn. If any shall obstruct these measures, harangue about wars, and multiply them by reports, not a man will give in his name; not a man will take arms; not a man will fight for haughty masters, by whom he is excluded as an alien, both from the participation of public honours, and the private connections of marriage.”
VI. The consuls then came into the assembly, and, after a long series of harangues on the subject, an altercation arising, and the tribune asking, “for what reason was it improper that a plebeian should be made consul?” one of them answered, though perhaps with truth, yet unluckily, with regard to the present dispute, “Because no plebeian had the right or power of taking the auspices; and, for that reason the decemvirs had prohibited intermarriage, lest, from the uncertainty of men’s descent, the auspices might be vitiated.” This, above all, kindled the indignation of the commons into a flame; they heard it affirmed that they were not qualified to take auspices, as if they were objects of the aversion of the immortal gods. So that the contest grew high, the commons being headed by a tribune of undaunted resolution, and themselves vying with him in steadiness, until the senate were at length overpowered, and gave their consent to the passing of the law concerning intermarriage; judging, that the tribunes might most probably be thereby induced, either to lay aside entirely, or to defer until the end of the war, the struggle for plebeian consuls; and that, in the mean time, the commons, satisfied with having obtained the right in question, would be ready to enlist. On the other hand, the high degree of credit which Canuleius had attained by his victory over the senate, and the favour of the commons, proved a strong incentive to the other tribunes to exert their utmost efforts in support of the law, which they had proposed in regard to the consulship: and whilst the accounts of the enemy’s proceedings grew every day more alarming, they obstructed the enlisting of troops. The consuls, finding that, by the continual protests of the tribunes, every proceeding of the senate was rendered abortive, held consultations at their houses with the principal patricians. Here they saw their dilemma: they must be vanquished, either by their enemies, or by their countrymen. The only consulars who were present at their deliberations were Valerius and Horatius. Caius Claudius gave his opinion, that the consuls should proceed against the tribunes by force of arms. The Quintii, both Cincinnatus and Capitolinus, declared themselves averse from the shedding of blood, and of offering violence to those officers, whom, by the treaty concluded with the commons, they had acknowledged as sacred and inviolable. The result of these consultations was, that they should allow military tribunes, with consular power, to be elected out of the patricians and plebeians without distinction; and that, with respect to the election of consuls, no change should be made; and with this the tribunes were satisfied, and the commons also. An assembly was now proclaimed for the election of three tribunes with consular power; and, as soon as this proclamation was issued, immediately every one, who had, either by word or deed, been a promoter of the sedition, particularly those who had held the office of tribune, began to solicit votes, and to bustle through the Forum as candidates; so that the patricians were deterred, first, in despair of attaining that dignity, while the minds of the commons were in such a ferment; and, afterwards, from making their appearance, from the indignation which they felt at the thoughts of holding the office in conjunction with such colleagues. At last, however, overcome by the pressing instances of the leading patricians, some of them declared themselves candidates, lest they might seem to have voluntarily surrendered the administration of public affairs. The issue of that election afforded a proof, that men’s sentiments during the heat of the contest for liberty and dignity, are very different from those which they feel after the contest has been ended, and when the judgment is unbiassed. For the advocates for the plebeians, satisfied with the admission of their right to stand candidates, elected every one of the tribunes from among the patricians. Never was there found, even in a single individual, such moderation, disinterestedness, and elevation of mind, as was displayed on that occasion by the whole body of the poople.
Y. R. 311. 441.VII. In the year three hundred and ten from the foundation of the city of Rome, for the first time, military tribunes in the room of consuls entered into office. These were Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Atilius, and Titus Cæcilius; and, during their continuance in office, concord prevailing at home, produced likewise peace abroad. There are some writers, who, without mentioning the proposal of the law concerning the election of plebeian consuls, affirm, that on account of a war breaking out with the Veientians, in addition to those with the Æquans and Volscians, and the revolt of the Ardeans, two consuls being unequal to the task of conducting so many wars at once, three military tribunes were created, and vested both with the authority and the badges of consuls. However, the establishment of this office did not, at that time, remain on a permanent footing; for in the third month from its commencement they resigned their dignity, in pursuance of a decree of the augurs, alleging a defect in the election, Caius Curtius, who had presided on that occasion, not having performed the requisite ceremonies in marking out the ground for his tent. Ambassadors came from Ardea to Rome, complaining of the injustice done to them, and at the same time professing an intention of remaining in amity, and adhering to the treaty, provided that, by the restoration of their lands, that injustice were redressed. The senate answered, that “they could not rescind the sentence of the people, were there no other reason than the preservation of concord between the orders in the state; but, besides, such a measure was not justified either by law or precedent. If the Ardeans would be content to wait until a seasonable conjuncture, and leave it entirely to the senate to find a remedy for the injury offered them, they would have reason afterwards to rejoice for having moderated their resentment, and should be convinced that the senate had ever been sincerely disposed to prevent any harm being done to them; and also that they were not less so to hear that which they now complained of.” On which the ambassadors declaring, that they would take the sense of their countrymen anew, before they formed any resolution, they were dismissed with expressions of friendship. The commonwealth being now without any curule magistrate, the patricians assembled and created an interrex, and the interregnum was prolonged for a great many days, by a contention whether consuls or military tribunes should be appointed. The interrex and the senate warmly promoted the election of consuls; the plebeian tribunes and the commons, the election of military tribunes. The patricians at length prevailed, for the commons, who had no intention of conferring either the one office or the other on any but patricians, desisted from their fruitless opposition: and besides, the leaders of the commons were better pleased with an election where they were not to appear as candidates, than with one where they would be passed over as unworthy. The plebeian tribunes wished also that their declining to press the dispute to a decision should be considered as a compliment to the patricians. Titus Quintius Barbatus, the interrex, elected consuls Lucius Papirius Mugilanus and Lucius Sempronius Atratinus. In their consulate, the treaty with the Ardeans was renewed; and this serves as a record to prove, that they were actually consuls in that year, though they are not to be found, either in the old annals, or in the books of the magistrates, by reason, as I imagine, that in the beginning of the year there were military tribunes, and therefore though these consuls were afterwards substituted in their room, yet the names of the consuls were omitted, as if the others had continued in office through the whole of the appointed time. Licinius Macer affirms, that they were found both in the Ardean treaty, and in the linen books in the temple of Moneta. Tranquillity prevailed, not only at home but abroad, notwithstanding so many alarms given by the neighbouring states.
Y. R. 312. 440.VIII. Whether this year had tribunes only, or consuls substituted in their room, is uncertain, but the succeeding one undoubtedly had consuls; Marcus Geganius Macerinus a second time, and Titus Quintius Capitolinus a fifth time, being invested with that honour. This same year produced the first institution of the censorship, an office which sprung from an inconsiderable origin, but grew up afterwards to such a height of importance, that it became possessed of the entire regulation of the morals and discipline of the Roman people. The senate, the centuries of the knights, and the distribution of honour and ignominy, were all under the supreme jurisdiction of these magistrates. The discrimination of public from private property in lands or houses, and the entire revenue of the Roman people, were finally adjusted by their sovereign decision. What gave rise to the institution was, that as the people had not, for many years past, undergone a survey, the census could neither be longer deferred, nor could the consuls find leisure to perform it, while they were threatened with war by so many different states. An observation was made in the senate, that a business, so laborious and ill suited to the office of consul, would require officers to be appointed for that particular purpose, to whose management should be committed the business of the public secretaries, the superintendance and custody of the records, and the adjustment of the form of proceeding in the census. This proposal, though deemed of little consequence, yet, as it tended to increase the number of patrician magistrates in the commonwealth, the senate, on their part, received with great pleasure; foreseeing also, I suppose, what really happened, that the influence of those who should be raised to that post, would derive additional authority and dignity on the office itself. And, on the other side, the tribunes, looking on the employment rather as necessary, which was the case at the time, than as attended with any extraordinary lustre, did not choose to oppose it, lest they should seem, through perverseness, to carry on their opposition even in trifles. The leading men in the state showing a dislike of the office, the people by their suffrages conferred the employment of performing the census on Papirius and Sempronius, the persons whose consulate is doubted, in order to recompense them, by that office, for having enjoyed the consulship only for a part of the usual period. From the business of their office they were called Censors.
IX. During these transactions at Rome, ambassadors came from Ardea, imploring, in regard of the alliance subsisting between them from the earliest times, and of the treaty lately renewed, relief for their city, now on the brink of ruin. The peace with Rome, which they had, by the soundest policy, preserved, they were prevented from enjoying by intestine war, the cause and origin of which is said to have arisen from a struggle between factions, which have proved, and will ever continue to prove, a more deadly cause of downfall to most states, than either foreign wars, or famine, or pestilence, or any other of those evils, which men are apt to consider as the severest of public calamities, and the effects of the divine vengeance. Two young men courted a maiden of a plebeian family, highly distinguished for beauty: one of them, on a level with the maid, in point of birth, and favoured by her guardians, who were themselves of the same rank; the other of noble birth, captivated merely by her beauty. The pretensions of the latter were supported by the interest of the nobles, which proved the means of introducing party disputes into the damsel’s family; for the nobleman’s wishes were seconded by her mother, who was ambitious of securing the more splendid match for her daughter, while the guardians, actuated even in a matter of that sort, by a spirit of party, exerted themselves in favour of the person of their own order. Not being able to come to any conclusion on the point in domestic conferences, they had recourse to a court of justice, where the magistrates having heard the claims of the mother and of the guardians, decreed, that she should marry according to the direction of her parent: but this was prevented by violence; for the guardians, after haranguing openly in the Forum, among people of their own faction, on the iniquity of the decree, collected a party in arms, and forcibly carried off the maiden from her mother’s house: while the nobles, more highly incensed against them than ever, united in a body, and in military array followed their young friend, who was rendered furious by this outrage. A desperate battle was fought, in which the commons were worsted; and, being incapable of imitating, in any particular, those of Rome, they marched out of the city, seized on a neighbouring hill, and from thence made excursions with fire and sword on the lands of the nobles. Even the city itself, which had hitherto escaped the effects of their dispute, they prepared to besiege, having, by the hopes of plunder, allured a great number of the artizans to come out and join them: nor is there any shocking form or calamity of war which was not experienced on the occasion, as if the whole state were infected with the mad rage of two youths, who sought the accomplishment of that fatal match through the means of their country’s ruin. Both parties thinking that they had not enough of hostilities among themselves, the nobles called upon the Romans to relieve their city from a siege; while the commons besought the Volscians to join them in the storming of Ardea. The Volscians, under the command of Cluilius, an Æquan, arrived first at Ardea, and drew a line of circumvallation round the enemy’s walls. An account of this being conveyed to Rome, Marcus Geganius, consul, instantly set out with an army, chose ground for his camp, at the distance of three miles from the enemy; and, as the day was now far spent, ordered his men to refresh themselves: then, at the fourth watch, he put his troops in motion. They were soon set to work, and made such expedition, that at sun-rise the Volscians saw themselves inclosed by the Romans with stronger works than those with which they had surrounded the city. The consul had also, on one side, drawn a line across, to the wall of Ardea, to open a communication with his friends in the city.
X. The general of the Volscians, who had hitherto maintained his troops, not out of magazines provided for the purpose, but by corn brought in daily from the plunder of the country, finding himself cut off at once from every resource, by being shut up within the enemy’s lines, requested a conference with the consul, and told him, that “if the intention of the Romans in coming thither was to raise the siege, he was willing to withdraw the troops of the Volscians from the place.” To this the consul answered, that “it was the part of the vanquished to receive terms, not to dictate them; and that the Volscians should not have the making of their own conditions for departure, as they had for coming to attack the allies of the Roman people.” He insisted, that “they should deliver up their general into his hands, lay down their arms, and acknowledging themselves vanquished, submit to his farther orders;” declaring, that “if these terms were not complied with, whether they remained there, or retired, he would proceed against them as a determined enemy; and would be better pleased to carry home a victory, over the Volscians, than an insidious peace.” The Volscians, resolving to make trial of the small remains of hope, which they could place in their arms, as they were utterly destitute of every other, came to an engagement; in which, besides other disadvantages, the ground rendered it difficult for them to fight, and still more so to retreat. When, finding themselves repulsed on all sides, with much slaughter, from fighting they had recourse to intreaties; and, having delivered up their general, and surrendered their arms, they were sent under the yoke, each with a single garment, loaded with ignominy and sufferings; and, having afterwards halted near the city of Tusculum, the inhabitants of that city, out of the inveterate hatred which they bore them, attacked them unarmed as they were, and executed severe vengeance on them; leaving scarcely any to carry home the news of their defeat. The Roman general re-established tranquillity in the affairs of Ardea, which had been thrown into great confusion by the sedition, beheading the principal authors of the disturbances, and confiscating their effects to the public treasury. These now considered the injustice of the former sentence against them, as sufficiently repaired by such an important act of kindness: the senate, however, were of opinion that something still remained to be done, to obliterate, if possible, all remembrance of the Roman people’s avarice. The consul returned into the city in triumph, Cluilius the general of the Volscians being led before his chariot, and the spoils borne before him, of which he had stripped the enemy when he disarmed, and sent them under the yoke. The other consul, Quintius, had the singular felicity of acquiring by his administration in the civil department, a share of glory equal to what his colleague had acquired by his military achievements: for so steadily did he direct his endeavours for the preservation of internal peace and harmony, dispensing justice tempered with moderation, equally to the highest and the lowest, that while the patricians approved of his strictness in the execution of his office, the commons were highly satisfied with his lenity. Even against the schemes of the tribunes, he carried his measures more by means of the respect universally paid to him, than by exertions of authority. Five consulships administered with the same tenor of conduct, and every part of his life being suited to the consular dignity, attracted to his person almost a greater degree of veneration than was paid even to the high office which he bore. There was, therefore, no mention of military tribunes in this consulate.
Y. R. 313. 439.XI. There were chosen, to succeed them, Marcus Fabius Vebulanus and Postumius Æbutius Cornicen. These consuls were emulous of the high renown, which they observed their predecessors had attained by their services at home and abroad, that year having been rendered very remarkable among all the neighbouring states, both friends and enemies, by the very zealous support afforded to the Ardeans in their extreme distress. They exerted themselves then the more earnestly, with the view of erasing entirely from the minds of men the infamy of the former sentence of the people in respect of the appropriation of the lands: and sought to procure a decree of the senate, that whereas the Ardeans had by intestine war been reduced to an inconsiderable number, therefore a colony should be conducted thither, to serve as a barrier against the Volscians. These were the expressions made use of in the tables exhibited to public view, in order to conceal from the tribunes and commons the design which they had formed of rescinding the sentence. But they had agreed among themselves, to enrol for the colony a much greater number of Rutulians than of Romans; and then, that no other land should be distributed, but that which had been fraudulently obtained by the infamous sentence of the people; and that not a sod of it should be assigned to any Roman until every one of the Rutulians should have received his share: by these means the land returned to the Ardeans. The commissioners appointed to conduct the colony to Ardea, were Agrippa Menenius, Titus Clælius Siculus, and Marcus Æbutius Elva; who, in the execution of their very unpopular employment, having given offence to the commons, by assigning to the allies that land which the Roman people had by their sentence pronounced to be their own; and not being much favoured even by the principal patricians, because they had shown no difference to the influence of any of them, were by the tribunes cited before the people, to answer a charge of misconduct; but they evaded all vexations attacks, by enrolling themselves as settlers, and remaining in that colony, which would ever bear testimony to their justice and integrity.
Y. R. 314. 438.XII. Tranquillity continued at home and abroad during both this and the following year, in which Caius Furius Pacilus, and Marcus Papilius Crassus were consuls. The games vowed by the decemvirs in pursuance of a decree of the senate, on occasion of the secession of the commons from the patricians were this year performed. An occasion of sedition was sought in vain by Petilius; who, though he was elected tribune of the commons a second time, merely out of people’s reliance on the strength of his declaration, which was, that the consuls should propose to the senate a distribution of lands to be made to the commons; yet he was neither able to carry this point, nor when, after a great struggle, he had prevailed so far as that the senate should be consulted, whether it was their pleasure that consuls should be elected, or tribunes, could he prevent an order for the election of consuls; and the tribune made himself still more ridiculous by threatening to hinder a levy of troops, at a time when, all their neighbours remaining in quiet, there was no occasion either for war or any preparation for it.Y. R. 315. 437. This tranquillity was succeeded by a busy year, wherein Proculus Geganius Macerinus and Lucius Menenius Lanatus were consuls; a year remarkable for a variety of dangers and disasters; for seditions, for famine, and for the people having almost bowed their necks to the yoke of arbitrary government, seduced by allurements of largesses. One calamity they were exempt from, foreign war: had this aggravation been added to their condition, the aid of all the gods could scarcely have preserved them. Their misfortune began with a famine; whether owing to the season being unfavourable to the productions of the earth; or, from more attention being paid to the pleasures of the city and the assemblies than to agriculture; for both causes are mentioned. The patricians laid the blame on the idleness of the commons: the tribunes sometimes on the evil designs, sometimes on the negligence of the consuls. At length the plebeians prevailed, the senate giving no opposition, that Lucius Minucius should be created president of the market, who proved, in the course of that employment, more successful in guarding the public liberty, than in the immediate business of his own department; although in the end, he obtained the honour of having relieved the people in regard to the scarcity, and also their gratitude for that important service. He first proceeded as follows: Finding little addition to the markets from several embassies which he sent, by land and sea, to all the neighbouring nations, except that some corn was brought, though in no great quantity, from Etruria, he had recourse to the expedient of dealing out, in shares, the scanty stock of provisions, at the same time compelling all to discover their stores of corn, and to sell whatever they had beyond a month’s allowance. He took from the slaves one half of their daily portion of food; passed censures on the hoarders of corn, and exposed them to the rage of the people. So strict a scrutiny, however, served rather to make known the greatness of the scarcity, than to remedy it; so that many of the commoners abandoning themselves to despair, rather than drag on their lives in torment, covered their heads, and threw themselves into the Tiber.
XIII. While things were in this situation, Spurius Mælius, a man of equestrian rank, and possessed of extraordinary wealth for those times, engaged in a plan, which, though useful for the present, was pernicious in its tendency; and was in fact suggested by designs still more pernicious: for having by means of his connections and dependents bought in a quantity of corn from Etruria (which very proceeding, I suppose, obstructed the endeavours of the magistrates to lower the price of provisions,) he began the practice of bestowing largesses of corn; and, having gained the hearts of the commons by this munificence, became the object of general attention. Assuming thence a degree of consequence, beyond what belonged to a private citizen, wherever he went, he drew them after him in crowds; and they, by the favour which they expressed towards him, encouraged him to look up to the consulship with a certain prospect of success. As men’s desires are never satiated, while fortune gives room to hope for more, he began to aim at higher and less justifiable objects. And since even the consulship must be obtained by violent efforts, in opposition to the inclinations of the patricians, and be, at the same time, a contest attended with such difficulties as would cost infinite labour to surmount, he directed his views to regal power. The election of consuls drew nigh; and the circumstance of its coming on before his schemes were sufficiently digested, and ripe for execution, was the cause of their being entirely disconcerted. To the consulship was elected, Titus Quintius Cincinnatus a sixth time,Y. R. 316. 436. a man not at all calculated to encourage the views of one who aimed at innovationts: his colleague was Agrippa Menenius, surnamed Lanatus. Minucius, too, was either re-elected president of the market, or was originally appointed for an unlimited term, as long as occasion should require; for there is nothing certain on this head, only that his name, as president, was entered in the linen books among the other magistrates for both years. This Minucius transacting, in a public character, the same kind of business which Mælius had undertaken in a private capacity, the houses of both were consequently frequented by the same sort of people; which circumstance, having led to a discovery of the designs of the latter, Minucius laid the information before the senate: that “arms were collected in the dwelling of Mælius; that he held assemblies in his house; and that there remained not a doubt of his having formed a design to possess himself of absolute power: that the time for the execution of that design was not yet fixed, but every other particular had been settled: that tribunes had been corrupted, by bribes, to betray the public liberty; and that the leaders of the multitude had their several parts assigned them. That he had deferred laying this matter before the senate, rather longer than was consistent with safety, lest he might offer any information which was ill-grounded or uncertain.” On hearing this, the principal patricians highly blamed the consuls of the former year, for suffering such largesses, and such meetings of the commons in a private house; and also, the new ones for their supineness, while the president of the market reported to the senate an affair of such importance, and which it was the duty of a consul both to discover and to punish. To this Quintius replied, that “it was unfair to blame the consuls, who being tied down by the laws concerning appeals, enacted for the purpose of weakening their authority, had not, in their office, the ability, however much they might have the will, to inflict condign punishment on such atrocious proceedings: that the business required not only a man of resolution, but one who should be free and unshackled by the fetters of those laws: that therefore he would name Lucius Quintius dictator: in him would be found a spirit equal to so great a power.” Every one expressed his approbation. Quintius at first refused the office, and asked them, what they meant by exposing him in the extremity of age to such a violent contest. On which they all joined in asserting, that his aged breast was fraught not only with more wisdom, but with more fortitude also, than was to be found in all the rest, loading him with deserved praises, while the consul persisted in his intention: so that at length Cincinnatus, after praying to the immortal gods that his declining years might not, at a juncture so dangerous, be the cause of detriment or dishonour to the commonwealth, was appointed dictator by the consul, and he then named Caius Servilius Ahala his master of the horse.
XIV. Next day, after fixing proper guards, the dictator went down to the Forum, the whole attention of the commons being turned towards him by the surprise and novelty of the affair; and whilst the partizans of Mælius, and also himself, perceived that the power of this high authority was aimed against them; others, who were ignorant of their designs, were wholly at a loss to discover what tumult, what sudden war, required either the majesty of a dictator, or the appointment of Quintius, after his eightieth year, to the administration of affairs. The master of the horse, by order of the dictator, then came to Mælius, and said to him, “the dictator calls you.” Struck with apprehension, he asked the reason, and was informed by Servilius, that he must stand a trial, and acquit himself of a charge made against him in the senate by Minucius. Mælius then drew back into the band of his associates; and, at first, cautiously looking round, attempted to skulk away; and when, at length, a serjeant, by order of the master of the horse, laid hold on him, he was rescued by the by-standers, and betook himself to flight, imploring the protection of the commons of Rome; affirming that he was persecuted by a conspiracy of the patricians, for having acted with kindness toward the people; and beseeching them to assist him in this extremity of danger, and not to suffer him to be murdered before their eyes. Whilst he exclaimed in this manner, Ahala Servilius overtook and slew him, and besmeared with the blood which flowed from the wounds, and surrounded by a band of young patricians, carried back an account to the dictator, that Mælius, on being summoned to attend him, had driven back the serjeant, and endeavoured to excite the multitude to violence, for which he had received condign punishment. “I applaud,” said the dictator, “your meritorious conduct; Caius Servilius, you have preserved the commonwealth.”
XV. He then ordered the multitude, who, not knowing what judgment to form of the deed, were in violent agitation, to be called to an assembly; there he publicly declared, that “Mælius had been legally put to death, even supposing him to have been innocent of the crime of aspiring at regal power, for having refused to attend the dictator, when summoned by the master of the horse. That he himself had resolved to examine into the charge; and that, when the trial should have been finished, Mælius would have met such treatment as his cause merited: but when he attempted by force to elude a legal decision, force was employed to stop his proceedings. Nor would it have been proper to treat him as a citizen, for though born in a free state, under the dominion of the laws divine and human, in a city from which he knew that kings had been expelled; and that in the same year the offspring of the king’s sister, and the sons of the consul the deliverer of his country, on discovery of their engaging in a plot for re-admitting the kings into the city, where by their father publicly beheaded; from which, Collatinus Tarquinius, consul, was ordered, through the general detestation of the name, after resigning his office, to retire into exile; in which Spurius Cassius was, several years after, capitally punished, for having formed a design of assuming the sovereignty; in which, not long ago, the decemvirs, on account of their regal tyranny, had been punished with confiscations, exile, and death; in that very city Spurius Mælius had conceived hopes of possessing himself of regal power. And who was this man? Although no nobility, no honours, no merits, could open to any man the way to tyranny; yet still the Claudii and Cassii, when they raised their views to an unlawful height, were elated by consulships, by decemvirates, by honours conferred on themselves and their ancestors, and by the splendor of their families. But Spurius Mælius, to whom a plebeian tribuneship should have been an object rather of wishes, than of hope, a wealthy corn-merchant, had conceived the design of purchasing the liberty of his countrymen, for a few measures of corn; had supposed, that a people victorious over all their neighbours, could be inveigled into slavery by being supplied with a little food. A person, whose elevation to the rank of senator, the state could have hardly digested, they were patiently to endure as king, possessing the ensigns and the authority of Romulus their founder, who had descended from, and returned to the gods. This must be deemed not more criminal than it was monstrous: nor was it sufficiently expiated by his blood; it was farther necessary that the roof, the walls, within which such a desperate design had been conceived, should be levelled to the ground; and that his effects should be confiscated, being contaminated by the intention of making them the price of the people’s liberty; and that therefore he directed the quæstors to sell those effects, and deposit the produce in the public treasury.”
XVI. He then ordered his house to be immediately razed, and that the vacant space should remain as a monument of the suppression of that abominable enterprize. This was called Æquimælium. Lucius Minucius was honoured with a present of an ox, with its horns gilded, and a statue, on the outside of the gate Trigemina; and this with the approbation of the commons, for he distributed among them the corn collected by Mælius, at the rate of an as for each peck. In some authors, I find, that this Minucius had changed sides from the patricians to the commons, and that having been chosen by the plebeian tribunes, as an eleventh member of their body, he quieted the commotion which arose on the death of Mælius. But it is hardly credible, that the patricians suffered the number of tribunes to be augmented, or that the precedent should have been introduced particularly in regard of a man of their own order; or that the commons did not afterwards maintain, or even attempt to maintain, a privilege once conceded to them. But what above all evinces the falsehood of that inscription on his statue, is, that, a few years before this, provision had been made by a law, that the tribunes should not have power to assume colleagues in their office. Of the college of tribunes Quintus Cæcilius, Quintus Junius, and Sextus Titinius had neither been concerned in the law for conferring honours on Minucius, nor did they cease to throw out censures in presence of the people, at one time on Minucius, at another on Servilius; and to complain of the unmerited death of Mælius. By such methods they accomplished their purpose so far as to procure an order, that military tribunes should be elected instead of consuls; not doubting, but in the filling up of six places, for so many were then allowed to be elected, some plebeians, who should profess a resolution to revenge the death of Mælius, would be appointed among the rest. The commons, though kept in continual agitation during that year, from many and various causes, elected three tribunes only, with consular power, and even chose among these Lucius Quintius the son of Cincinnatus, whose conduct in the dictatorship those men wished to render odious, and thence to gain occasion of new disturbances. Prior to Quintius, Mamercus Æmilius was voted in, a man who stood in the first rank of merit: in the third place, they elected Lucius Icilius.
Y. R. 317. 435.XVII. While these were in office, Fidenæ, a Roman colony, revolted to the Veientians, whose king was Lars Tolumnius. To their revolt a more heinous crime was added; for, in pursuance of an order from Tolumnius, they put to death Caius Fulcinius, Clœlius Tullus, Spurius Ancius, and Lucius Roscius, Roman ambassadors, who came to inquire into the reasons of this change of conduct. Some palliate the guilt of the king, alleging, that an ambiguous expression of his, on a successful throw at dice, being misapprehended by the Fidenatians, as an order for their execution, occasioned the death of the ambassadors. But this seems an incredible tale; for it cannot be supposed that the thoughts of Tolumnius would be so intently employed upon his game, that he should be regardless of a circumstance of so much consequence, as the arrival of his new allies, the Fidenatians, and who, if this be admitted, must have come to consult him upon the perpetration of a murder, which would violate all the laws of nations; or that, in such an affair, he should feel no compunction. It is much more probable, that his view was to involve them in such guilt, as to cut off all hope of reconciliation with the Romans. Statues of the ambassadors slain at Fidenæ were erected near the rostrum, at the public expense. A desperate struggle was now to be expected with the Veientians and Fidenatians; as, besides the circumstance of their situation, contiguous to the frontiers, they had stained the commencement of the war with an action so abominable. The commons, therefore, and their tribunes, seeing the necessity of attending to the general welfare, and suffering other matters to pass in quiet, there was no opposition to the election of consuls, who were Marcus Geganius Macerinus a third time, and Lucius Sergius Fidenas, so called, I suppose, from his services in the succeeding war.Y. R. 318. 434. For he was the first who engaged in battle with the king of the Veientians on this side of the Anio, in which he had the advantage; but he gained not an unbloody victory, so that people’s grief for the loss of their countrymen exceeded their joy for the defeat of the enemy; and the senate, as in a case particularly alarming, ordered Mamercus Æmilius to be named dictator. He chose his master of the horse from among his colleagues of the former year, in the office of military tribunes with consular power, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, a young man worthy of the father from whom he sprung. To the troops levied by the consuls, were added many veteran centurions, skilled in the business of war, and the number of men lost in the last battle was replaced. The dictator ordered Quintius Capitolinus and Marcus Fabius Vibulanus to attend him in quality of lieutenant-general. The appointment of a magistrate with extraordinary power, and the character of the person appointed being fully suited to those powers, both together so affected the enemy, that they withdrew from the Roman territory to the other side of the Anio: and continuing to retreat, took possession of the hills between Fidenæ and the Anio. Nor did they descend into the plains, until the legions of the Faliscians came to their aid: then, indeed, the camp of the Etrurians was pitched under the walls of Fidenæ. The Roman dictator took his post at a little distance from thence, at the conflux and on the banks of the two rivers, drawing lines across from one to the other, where the length of ground between them was not greater than he was able to fortify. On the day following, he led out his forces, prepared for battle.
XVIII. Among the enemy there were various opinions. The Faliscians, finding it very distressing to carry on war at such a distance from home, and being full of confidence in their own prowess, were urgent for fighting. The Veintians and Fidenatians foresaw greater advantages in protracting the war. Tolumnius, although the advice of his countrymen was more agreeable to his own sentiments, yet fearing lest the Faliscians should grow weary of a distant war, gave notice that he would fight on the following day. This, however, being still deferred, added to the confidence of the dictator and the Romans; so that the soldiers, openly threatening that they would assault the camp and the city, if the enemy did not come to an engagement, both armies marched forth into the middle of a plain which lay between the two camps. The Veientians, being superior in numbers, sent a party round behind the mountains, who were to attack the Roman camp during the heat of the battle. The army of the three states was drawn up in such a manner, that the Veientians formed the right wing, the Faliscians the left, and the Fidenatians the centre. The dictator charged on the right wing against the Faliscians; Quintius Capitolinus on the left against the Veientians; and the master of the horse, with the cavalry, advanced in the centre. For a short time all was silence and quiet; the Etrurians being resolved not to engage unless they were compelled, and the dictator keeping his eyes fixed on a Roman fort in the rear, until a signal which had been concerted should be raised by the augurs, as soon as the birds gave a favourable omen: on perceiving which, he ordered the cavalry first to charge the enemy with a loud shout: the line of infantry following, began the conflict with great fury. The Etrurian legions could not in any quarter withstand the attack of the Romans. The cavalry made the greatest resistance; but the king himself, distinguished in valour far beyond even these, by frequent charges on the Romans, while they were pursuing in disorder, in all parts of the field, prolonged the contest.
XIX. There was at that time among the Roman cavalry, a military tribune called Aulus Cornelius Cossus, remarkable for the extraordinary beauty of his person, as well as for his spirit and bodily strength, and for attention to the honour of his family, which having descended to him with great degree of lustre, he conveyed to his posterity with a large increase, and with additional splendor. Perceiving that wherever Tolumnius directed his course, the troops of Roman cavalry shrunk from his charge, and knowing him by his royal apparel, as he flew through every part of the army, he cried out, “Is this he who breaks the bands of human society, and violates the law of nations? This victim will I quickly slay, provided it is the will of the gods that any thing should remain sacred on earth, and will offer him to the manes of the ambassadors.” With these words, he clapped spurs to his horse, and with his spear presented, rushed against him. Having unhorsed him with a stroke, and pressing him down with his spear, he instantly sprung down on the ground; where, as the king attempted to rise, he struck him back with the boss of his shield, and with repeated thrusts pinned him to the earth. He then stripped off the spoils from the lifeless body, and having cut off the head, and carrying it about on the point of his spear as a trophy of the victory, he put the enemy to rout, through the dismay which struck them on the death of their king. Their body of cavalry likewise, which alone had kept the victory in suspense, was defeated with the rest. The dictator pursued close on the flying legions, and drove them to their camp with great slaughter. The greater number of the Fidentians, through their knowledge of the country, made their escape into the mountains. Cossus, having crossed the Tiber with the cavalry, brought to the city an immense booty, from the lands of the Veientians. During this battle, there was another fight at the Roman camp, against the party which Tolumnius, as was mentioned above, had sent against it: Fabius Vibulanus, manning the rampart all round, stood at first on the defensive; then, when the enemy were earnestly engaged against the rampart, sallying out with the veterans from the principal gate on the right, he made a sudden attack on them, which struck such terror, that though the slaughter was less, they being fewer in number, yet the rout was not less disorderly than that of their grand army.
XX. Crowned with success in every quarter, the dictator, in pursuance of a decree of the senate and an order of the people, returned into the city in triumph. By far the most distinguished object in this procession was Cossus, carrying the spolia opima (grand spoils) of the king whom he had slain, while the soldiers chanted their uncouth verses, extolling him as equal to Romulus. With the usual form of dedication he presented and hung up the spoils in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, near to those dedicated by Romulus, and first denominated opima, which were the only ones then existing. He drew off the people’s attention from the chariot of the dictator to himself, and enjoyed almost solely the honour of that day’s solemnity. The former, by order of the people, deposited in the capitol, as an offering to Jupiter, a golden crown of a pound weight, at the expense of the public. Following all the Roman authors, I have represented Aulus Cornelius Cossus, as a military tribune, when he carried the second spolia opima into the temple of Jupiter Feretrius: but, besides that those spoils only are properly deemed opima, which one general has taken from another, and we know no general but the person under whose auspices the war is carried on, the inscription itself written on the spoils proves against both them and myself, that Cossus was consul when he took them. Having once heard Augustus Cæsar the founder or restorer of all our temples, on entering the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which from a ruin he had rebuilt, aver, that he himself had read the said inscription on the linen breast-plate, I thought it would be next to sacrilege, to rob Cossus of such a testimony respecting his spoils, as that of Cæsar, to whom the temple itself owed its renovation. Whether the mistake is chargeable on the very ancient annals and the books of the magistrates, written on linen and deposited in the temple of Moneta, and continually cited as authority by Licinius Macer, which have Aulus Cornelius Cossus, consul, with Titus Quintius Penius, in the ninth year after this, every one may form his own judgment. For, that so celebrated a battle could not be transferred to that year, there is this farther proof: that for three years before and after the consulship of Aulus Cornelius, there was an almost entire cessation from war on account of a pestilence, and a scarcity of the fruits of the earth; so that several annals, as if they had no other transactions but those of mourning to relate, mention nothing more than the names of the consuls. Cossus, indeed, is mentioned as military tribune, with consular power, in the third year before his consulate; and in the same year as master of the horse, in which post he fought another remarkable battle with cavalry. In respect to this there is room for conjecture: but in my opinion, surmises are not to be brought in support of any matter whatsoever; when the person concerned in the fight, on placing the recent spoils in the sacred repository, and having in a manner before his eyes Jupiter, to whom they were consecrated, and Romulus, as witnesses; and, as would be the case in falsifying the inscription, who were not to be treated with contempt, entitled himself Aulus Cornelius Cossus, consul.
Y. R. 319. 433.XXI. During the next year, wherein Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis and Lucius Papirius Crassus were consuls, armies were led into the territories of the Veientians and of the Faliscians, and numbers of men and cattle were carried off as spoil, but the enemy did not show themselves, nor give any opportunity of fighting. However, no attempt was made on their towns, the people at Rome being attacked by a pestilential disorder. Endeavours were also used at home to excite disturbances, but without effect, by Spurius Mælius, a plebeian tribune, who, imagining that, by the popularity of his name, he should be able to raise some commotion, had commenced a prosecution against Minucius; and also proposed a law for confiscating the effects of Servilius Ahala, alleging that Mælius had been insidiously crushed under false charges by Minucius; and objecting to Servilius his having put to death a citizen who was under no legal sentence. These charges, however, when canvassed before the people, were found entitled to as little credit and attention as the promoter of them. But they found greater cause for anxiety in the increasing violence of the pestilence, attended with other alarming occurrences and prodigies; particularly in the accounts which were received, of many houses in the country being thrown down by frequent earthquakes. A general supplication to the gods was therefore performed by the people, who repeated it in form after the decemvirs.* The disorder increasing during the following year,Y. R. 320. 432. in which Caius Julius a second time, and Lucius Virginius were consuls, occasioned such dreadful apprehensions of total desolation, both in the city and the country, that not only an entire stop was put to predatory excursions from the Roman territories, but every thought of offensive operations laid aside both by patricians and commons. The Fidenatians, who had at first shut themselves up within their towns or forts, or among the mountains, now ventured to come down into the lands of the Romans, and commit depredations. Then the army of the Veientians being called to their aid, (For the Faliscians could not be prevailed on, either by the calamities of the Romans, or the intreaties of their allies, to renew hostilities,) the two nations crossed the Anio, and displayed their ensigns at a little distance from the Colline gate. This occasioned great consternation as well in the city as in the country. The consul Julius drew up the troops on the rampart and the walls, whilst Virginius held a consultation of the senate in the temple of Quirinus. Here it was resolved to create for dictator Quintus Servilius, to whom some gave the surname of Priscus, others that of Structus. Virginius delayed no longer than till he had conferred with his colleague, and having obtained his consent, named the dictator that night. He appointed Postumius Æbutius Elva his master of the horse.
XXII. The dictator issued an order that all should appear at the first light, outside the Colline gate; and that the ensigns from the treasury should be brought to him. Every one, whose strength enabled him to carry arms, attended accordingly. In the mean-time, the enemy withdrew to the higher grounds: thither the dictator followed, and coming to a general engagement near Nomentum, defeated the Etrurian legions, drove them from thence into the city of Fidenæ, and inclosed them with lines of circumvallation. But neither could the city be taken by storm, by reason of its high situation and the strength of its works, nor could a blockade turn to any effect, because they had such abundant stores of corn laid up in their magazines, as to be more than sufficient for necessary consumption. The dictator, therefore, having no hopes, either of taking the place by assault, or of reducing it to a surrender, being thoroughly acquainted with the same, resolved to carry a mine into the citadel, on the opposite side of the city; which, being the best secured by its natural strength, was the least attended to. He carried on his approaches to the walls, in the parts most distant from this; and, having formed his troops into four divisions, who were to relieve each other successively in the action, by continuing the fight night and day, without intermission, he so engaged the attention of the enemy, that they never perceived the work which was carrying on until, a way being dug from the camp through the mountain, a passage was opened up into the citadel, and the Etrurians, whose thoughts were diverted from their real danger by false alarms, discovered, from the shouts of the enemy over their heads, that their city was taken. In this year the censors, Caius Furius Pacilus and Marcus Geganius Macerinus, pronounced that the undertakers had fulfilled their contract for finishing the courthouse* in the field of Mars, and the survey of the people was performed there for the first time.
Y. R. 321. 431.XXIII. I find, in Licinius Macer, the same consuls re-elected for the following year: yet Valerius Quintius and Quintus Tubero mention Marcus Manlius and Quintus Sulpicius as consuls. In support of representations so widely different, both Tubero and Macer cite the linen books as their authority: but neither of them deny the record of ancient writers, who maintain that there were military tribunes in that year. Lucinius is of opinion, that the linen books ought to be implicitly followed. Tubero cannot determine positively on either side. But this is a point which, among others, involved in obscurity by length of time, must be left unsettled. The capture of Fidenæ spread great alarm in Etruria; for not the Veientians only were terrified with apprehensions of similar ruin, but the Faliscians also, conscious of having commenced the war in conjunction with them, although they had not joined them in the renewing of hostilities. Those two nations therefore, having sent ambassadors to all the twelve states, and procured an order for a general meeting at the temple of Voltumna, the senate, apprehensive of a powerful attack from that quarter, ordered Mamercus Æmilius to be a second time appointed dictator. He named Aulus Postumius Tubertus master of the horse, making more powerful preparations for this campaign than for the last, in proportion as the danger was greater from the whole body of Etruria, than it had been from two of its states.
XXIV. That business ended more quietly than could have been expected. For accounts were received from some itinerant traders, that the Veientians had met with a refusal of aid, and had been desired to prosecute with their own strength, a war in which they had engaged on their own separate views, and not endeavour to bring others to partake in their distresses, to whom they had imparted no share of their prospects, when they were favourable. The dictator, thus robbed of the harvest of glory which he expected to have reaped from military affairs, in order that his appointment might not be altogether without effect, conceived a desire of performing some exploit in the civil line of business, and which should remain as a monument of his dictatorship. He undertook therefore to limit the censorship; either judging its powers excessive, or disapproving of their duration more than of their extent. In pursuance of this design, having summoned an assembly of the people, he told them, that, “with regard to foreign affairs, and the establishing of security on every side, the immortal gods had taken the administration on themselves. That as to what was fitting to be done within the walls he would zealously maintain the liberty of the Roman people: now there was no method of guarding it so effectual, as the taking care that offices of great power should not be of long continuance; and that those, whose jurisdiction could not be limited, should be limited in point of duration:— that while other magistracies were annual, the censorship was of five years continuance; and it was grievous to people to have the greater part of their actions subjected to the control of the same persons for such a number of years: he would therefore propose a law, that the censorship should not last longer than a year and a half.” Next day, the law was passed, and with the universal approbation of the people. He then said, “To convince you by my conduct, Romans, how much I disapprove of long continuance in office, I here resign the dictatorship.” Having thus put an end to one office, and limits to another, he was, upon his resignation, escorted by the people to his house with the warmest expressions of gratitude and affection. The censors, highly offended at his having imposed a restriction on a public office of the Roman state, degraded Mamercus into a lower tribe,* and, increasing his taxes eight-fold, disfranchised him.† We are told, that he bore this treatment with great magnanimity, regarding the cause of the disgrace rather than the disgrace itself: and that the principal patricians, though they had been averse from a diminution of the privileges of the censorship, were, nevertheless, highly displeased at this instance of harsh severity in the censors; every one perceiving, that he must be oftener and for a longer time subject to others in the office of censor, than he could hold the office himself. The people’s indignation certainly rose to such a height, that no other influence than that of Mamercus himself could have deterred them from offering violence to the censors.
Y. R. 322. 430.XXV. The plebeian tribunes, by constantly haranguing the people against the election of consuls, prevailed at last, after bringing the affair almost to an interregnum, that military tribunes, with consular power, should be elected. In the prize of victory which they aimed at, the procuring a plebeian to be elected, they were entirely disappointed. The persons chosen were all patricians, Marcus Fabius Vibulanus, Marcus Foslius, and Lucius Sergius Fidenas. During that year, the pestilence kept other matters quiet. For the restoration of health to the people, a temple was vowed to Apollo, and the decemvirs, by direction of the books, performed many rites for the purpose of appeasing the wrath of the gods, and averting the pestilence. The mortality, notwithstanding, was great among men and cattle, both in the city and the country. Dreading a famine, in consequence of the death of the husbandmen, they sent for corn to Etruria, and the Pomptine district, to Cumæ, and at last to Sicily also. No mention was made of electing consuls.Y. R. 323. 429. Military tribunes with consular power were appointed, all patricians, Lucius Pinarius Mamercinus, Lucius Furius Medullinus, and Spurius Postumius Albus. In this year, the violence of the disorder abated, nor were there any apprehensions of a scarcity of corn, care having been taken to provide against it. Schemes for exciting wars were agitated in the meetings of the Æquans and Volscians, and in Etruria at the temple of Voltumna. Here the business was adjourned for a year, and a decree passed, forbidding any assembly to be held before that time, while the nation of the Veientians in vain complained, that the same misfortunes hung over Veii, which had destroyed Fidenæ. Meanwhile at Rome the leaders of the commons, who had for a long time in vain pursued the hopes of attaining higher dignity during this interval of tranquillity abroad, called the people together in the houses of the tribunes, and there concerted their plans in secret. They complained that “they were treated with such contempt by the commons, that, notwithstanding military tribunes with consular power had been elected for so many years, no plebeian had ever yet been allowed to attain that honour. Their ancestors, they said, had shown great foresight in providing that the plebeian magistracies should not lie open to any patrician, otherwise they would have had patrician tribunes of the commons; so despicable are we even in the eyes of our own party, and not less contemned by the commons than by the patricians themselves.” Others took off the blame from the commons, and threw it on the patricians: “It was through their arts and intrigues,” they said, “that the access to honours was barred against the plebeians. If the commons were allowed time to breathe from their intreaties mixed with menaces, they would come to an election with a due regard to the interest of their own party, and as they had already secured protection to themselves, would assume also the administration of the government.” It was resolved, that, for the purpose of abolishing the practice of those intrigues, the tribunes should propose a law, that no person should be allowed, on applying for an office, to add any white to his garment.* This may appear at present a trivial matter, scarcely fit to be seriously mentioned, yet it then kindled a very hot contention between the patricians and plebeians. The tribunes, however, got the better, and carried the law; and as it was evident that the commons, in their present state of ill-humour, would give their support to persons of their own party, in order to put this out of their power, a decree of the senate was passed, that the election should be held for consuls.
Y. R. 324. 428.XXVI. The reason assigned was, intelligence received from the Latines and Hernicians of the Æquans and Volscians having suddenly commenced hostilities. Titus Quintius Cincinnatus, who had also the surname of Pennus, son of Lucius, and Caius Julius Mento, were made consuls. Nor were they kept in suspense with respect to the danger apprehended from their enemies. The Æquans and Volscians having held a levy of troops under their devoting law, which is their most powerful instrument for forcing men into the service, marched a numerous company from each nation to Algidum, where they met, and formed separate camps; the generals taking extraordinary pains, beyond what had ever been practised before, in fortifying their posts, and exercising their men; which rendered the accounts brought to Rome still more alarming. The senate resolved that a dictator should be appointed, because, though these were nations often vanquished, yet, in the present revival of hostilities, they had used more vigorous efforts than before; and no small number of the Roman youth had been cut off by the sickness. Above all, they were alarmed by the perverseness of the consuls, the disagreement between themselves, and the opposition which they gave each other in every measure. Some writers say, that these consuls were defeated in a battle at Algidum, and that this was the reason for appointing a dictator. Thus much is certain, that though they differed in every thing else, they perfectly agreed in the one point, that of opposing the will of the senate, and refusing to name a dictator, until Quintus Servilius Priscus, a man who had passed through the highest dignities with singular honour, finding the intelligence which arrived grow more and more alarming, and that the consuls would not be directed by the senate, expressed himself thus: “Tribunes of the commons, matters having come to extremity, the senate appeals to you, that, in the present state of public affairs, ye may, by the authority vested in you, oblige the consuls to name a dictator.” This application seemed to the tribunes to afford them a good opportunity of extending their power; wherefore, after retiring together, they declared, by the authority of their body, that “it was their determination that the consuls should follow the directions of the senate, and that if they persisted in their opposition to the sentiments of that most illustrious body, they would order them to be carried to prison.” The consuls were better pleased to be overcome by the tribunes than by the senate, at the same time remonstrating, that “the prerogatives of the chief magistracy were betrayed by the senators, and the consulship subjugated to the tribunitian power. If the consuls were liable to be over-ruled by a tribune, by virtue of his office, in any particular, they were liable also to be sent to prison. And what greater hardship could any private person apprehend? It fell by lot, for even on that point the colleagues could not agree, to Titus Quintius to name the dictator, and he made choice of Aulus Postumius Tubertus, his own father-in-law, a man of remarkable strictness in command. Lucius Julius was by him nominated master of the horse. At the same time, a proclamation was issued for a vacation from civil business, and that nothing should be attended to, in any part of the city, but preparations for hostilities. The examination of the cases of those who claimed immunity from service, was to be made at the conclusion of the war, which induced even those whose claims were doubtful, to give in their names. The Hernicians and Latines also were ordered to send a supply of forces, and they both exerted themselves with zeal, in obedience to the dictator’s will.
XXVII. All these measures were executed with the utmost despatch, the consul Caius Julius being left to guard the city, while Lucius Julius, master of the horse, was to answer the exigences of the camp; and that there should be no delay with respect to any thing which might there be wanted, the dictator, repeating the form after the chief pontiff Aulus Cornelius, vowed to celebrate the great games on the occasion of this sudden war. Then, dividing his troops with the consul Quintius, he began his march from the city, and quickly came up with the enemy. Having observed that these had formed two camps at a little distance from each other, they in like manner encamped separately at about a mile from them, the dictator towards Tusculum, and the consul towards Lanuvium. Thus there were four armies, and so many fortified posts, having between them a plain of sufficient extent not only for the skirmishes of small parties, but even for drawing up the armies, on both sides, in battle array. From the time when the camps were pitched in the neighbourhood of each other, there was continual skirmishing, the dictator readily allowing his men to compare strength, and from the success of these combats he gradually formed a confident expectation of future victory in a regular fight. The enemy, therefore, finding no hopes left of succeeding in a general engagement, made an attack by night on the camp of the consul, on the issue of which the final decision of the dispute would probably depend. Their shout, which they set up on a sudden, roused from sleep, not only the consul’s watch guards, and afterwards all his troops, but the dictator also. The conjuncture requiring instant exertion, the consul showed no deficiency either of spirit or of judgment. One part of the troops reinforced the guards at the gates, while another manned the rampart around. In the other camp where the dictator commanded, as there was less tumult, so it was easier to perceive what was necessary to be done. Despatching, then, a reinforcement to the consul’s camp, under the command of Spurius Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general, he himself, with a body of forces, making a small circuit, proceeded to a place quite retired from the hurry of action, whence he proposed to make an unexpected attack on the enemy’s rear. To Quintus Sulpicius, lieutenant-general, he gave the charge of the camp; to Marcus Fabius, lieutenant-general, he assigned the cavalry, with orders that those troops, which it would be hardly possible to manage in the confusion of a conflict by night, should not stir until day-light. Every measure, which any other general, however skilful and active, could at such a juncture order and execute, he ordered and executed with perfect regularity. But it was a singular instance of judgment and intrepidity, and entitled to more than ordinary praise, that, not content with defensive plans, he despatched Marcus Geganius, with some chosen cohorts, to attack that camp of the enemy, from which, according to the intelligence of his scouts, they had marched out the greater number of troops. Falling upon men whose whole attention was engrossed by the danger of their friends, while they were free from any apprehension for themselves, and had neglected posting watches or advanced guards, he made himself master of the camp, sooner almost than they knew that it was attacked. A signal being then given by smoke, as had been concerted, the dictator perceiving it, cried out, that the enemy’s camp was taken, and ordered the news to be conveyed to all the troops.
XXVIII. By this time day appeared, and every thing lay open to view. Fabius had already charged with the cavalry, and the consul had sallied from the camp on the enemy, who were now much disconcerted, when the dictator on another side, having attacked their reserve and second line, threw his victorious troops, both horse and foot, in the way of all their efforts, as they turned themselves about to the dissonant shouts, and the various sudden assaults. Being thus hemmed in on every side, they would, to a man, have undergone the punishment due to their infraction of the peace, had not Vectius Messius, a Volscian, a man more renowned for his deeds than his descent, upbraiding his men as they were forming themselves into a circle, called out with a loud voice, “Do ye intend to offer yourselves to the weapons of the enemy here, where ye can neither make defence nor obtain revenge? To what purpose, then, have ye arms in your hands? Or why did ye undertake an offensive war, ever turbulent in peace and dastardly in arms? What hopes do ye propose in standing here? Do ye expect that some god will protect and carry you from hence? With the sword the way must be opened. Come on, ye who wish to see your houses and your parents, your wives and children, follow wherever ye see me lead the way. There is neither wall nor rampart, nothing to obstruct you, but men in arms, with which ye are as well furnished as they. Equal in bravery, ye are superior to them in point of necessity, the ultimate and most forcible of weapons.” No sooner had he uttered these words, than he put them in execution, and the rest raising the shout anew, and following him, made a violent push on that part where Postumius Albus had drawn up his forces in their way, and made the conqueror give ground, until the dictator came up, just as his men were on the point of retreating. Thus the whole weight of the battle was turned to that quarter. Messius alone supported the fortune of the enemy, while many wounds were received, and great slaughter was made on both sides. By this time the Roman generals themselves were not unhurt in the fight: one of them, Postumius, retired from the field, having his skull fractured by the stroke of a stone; but neither could the dictator be prevailed on, by a wound in his shoulder, nor Fabius, by having his thigh almost pinned to his horse, nor the consul by his arm being cut off, to withdraw from this perilous conflict.
XXIX. Messius, at the head of a band of the bravest youths, charged the enemy with such impetuosity, that he forced his way through heaps of slaughtered foes to the camp of the Volscians, which was still in their possession, and the whole body of the army followed the same route. The consul, pursuing their disordered troops to the very rampart, assaulted the camp itself, and the dictator brought up his forces with the same purpose on the other side. There was no less bravery shown on both sides in this assault than had been seen in the battle. We are told that the consul even threw a standard within the rampart, to make the soldiers push on with more briskness, and that the first impression was made in recovering it. The dictator, having levelled the rampart, had now carried the fight within the works, on which the enemy every where began to throw down their arms and surrender; and on giving up themselves and their camp, they were all, except the members of their senate, exposed to sale. Part of the spoil was restored to the Latines and Hernicians, who claimed it as their property; the rest the dictator sold by auction; and having left the consul to command in the camp, after making his entry into the city in triumph, he resigned the dictatorship. Some historians have thrown a gloom on the memory of this glorious dictatorship; they relate that Aulus Postumius beheaded his son, after a successful exploit, because he had left his post, without orders, tempted by a favourable opportunity of fighting to advantage. While we feel a reluctance against giving credit to this story, we are also at liberty to reject it, there being a variety of opinions on the subject: and there is this argument against it, that such orders, by those who believe in the circumstance, have been denominated Manlian, not Postumian; while the person who first set an example of such severity would surely have acquired the disgraceful title of cruel. Besides, the surname of Imperiosus has been imposed on Manlius, and Postumius has not been marked by any hateful appellation. The consul Caius Julius, in the absence of his colleague, without casting lots for the employment, dedicated the temple of Apollo; at which Quintius being offended on his return to the city, after disbanding the army, made a complaint to the senate, but without any effect. To the great events of this year was added a circumstance, which, at that time, did not appear to have any relation to the interests of Rome. The Carthaginians, who were to become such formidable enemies, then for the first time, on occasion of some intestine broils among the Sicilians, transported troops into Sicily, in aid of one of the parties.
Y. R. 325. 427.XXX. In the city, endeavours were used by the tribunes of the commons to procure an election of military tribunes with consular power, but they were not able to effect it. Lucius Papirius Crassus and Lucius Julius were made consuls. Ambassadors from the Æquans having requested of the senate that a treaty of peace might be concluded, it was required of them, that instead of a treaty they should make a surrender of themselves. In the end they obtained a truce of eight years. The affairs of the Volscians, besides the loss sustained at Algidum, were involved in seditions, arising from an obstinate contention between the advocates for peace and those for war. The Romans enjoyed tranquillity on all sides. The consuls having obtained information from one of the tribunes, who betrayed the secret, that those officers intended to promote a law concerning the commutation of fines,* which would be highly acceptable to the people, they themselves took the lead in proposing it.Y. R. 326. 426. The next consuls were Lucius Sergius Fidenas, a second time, and Hostus Lucretius Tricipitinus, in whose consulate nothing worth mention occurred. They were succeeded by Aulus Cornelius Cossus and Titus Quintius Pennus, a second time.Y. R. 327. 425. The Veientians made inroads on the Roman territories, and a report prevailing, that some of the youth of Fidenæ were concerned in those depredations, the cognizance of that matter was committed to Lucius Sergius, Quintius Servilius, and Mamercus Æmilius. Some of them, who could not give satisfactory reasons for their being absent from Fidenæ at the time, were sent into banishment to Ostia. A number of new settlers were added to the colony, to whom were assigned the lands of those who had fallen in war. There was very great distress that year, occasioned by drought; for, besides a want of rain, the earth, destitute of its natural moisture, scarcely enabled the rivers to continue their course; in some places, the want of water was such, that the cattle died of thirst, in heaps, about the springs and rivulets, which had ceased to flow: in others, they were cut off by the mange, and their disorders began to spread by infection to the human species. At first they fell heavy on the husbandmen and slaves; soon after the city was filled with them: and not only men’s bodies were afflicted by the contagion, but superstitions of various kinds, and mostly of foreign growth, took possession also of their minds; while those who converted this weakness to their own emolument, introduced into people’s families, through their pretences to the art of divination, new modes of worship, until at length the principal men of the state were touched with shame for the dishonour brought on the public, seeing in every street and chapel extraneous and unaccustomed ceremonies of expiation practised, for obtaining the favour of the gods. A charge was then given to the ædiles, to see that no other deities should be worshipped than those acknowledged by the Romans; nor they, in any other modes than those established by the custom of the country.Y. R. 328. 424. The prosecution of their resentment against the Veientians was deferred to the ensuing year, wherein Caius Servilius Ahala and Lucius Papirius Mugillanus were consuls: even then, an immediate declaration of war and the march of the army were prevented by superstition. It was deemed necessary that heralds should first be sent to demand restitution. There had been open war, and battles fought, with the Veientians, not long before, at Nomentum and Fidenæ, since which, not a peace but a truce, had been concluded, the term of which had not yet expired, yet they had renewed hostilities. Nevertheless, the heralds were sent, and when, after taking the customary oath, they demanded satisfaction, no attention was paid to them. Then arose a dispute whether the war should be declared, by order of the people, or whether a decree of the senate were sufficient. The tribunes, by threatening openly that they would hinder any levy of soldiers, carried the point that the consuls should take the sense of the people concerning it. All the centuries voted for it. In another particular too, the commons showed a superiority, for they carried the point that consuls should not be elected for the next year.
Y. R. 329. 423.XXXI. Four military tribunes, with consular power, were elected, Titus Quintius Pennus from the consulship, Caius Furius, Marcus Postumius, and Aulus Cornelius Cossus. Of these, Cossus held the command in the city. The other three, after enlisting forces, marched to Veii, and there exhibited an instance of the pernicious effects on military operations resulting from a divided command: for while each maintained an opinion different from the rest, and endeavoured to enforce his own plans, they gave an opportunity to the enemy to take them at advantage. Accordingly, the Veientians, seizing a critical moment, made an attack on their troops, who knew not how to act, one of their generals ordering the signal for retreat to be given, another the charge to be sounded. They were thrown into confusion consequently, and turned their backs, but found safety in their camp, which was nigh at hand: their disgrace therefore was greater than their loss. The citizens, unaccustomed to defeats, were seized with dismal apprehensions, execrated the tribunes, and called aloud for a dictator; in him alone, they said, the state could place any hopes. Here again a religious scruple interfered, lest there should be an impropriety in a dictator being nominated by any other than a consul: but the augurs being consulted, removed that doubt. Aulus Cornelius nominated Mamercus Æmilius dictator, and was himself nominated by him master of the horse, so little was the effect of the disgrace inflicted by the censors: for when the state once came to stand in need of a person of real merit, it would not be prevented from seeking a supreme director of its affairs in a house undeservedly censured. The Veientians, puffed up by their success, sent ambassadors to all the states of Etruria, boasting, that they had in one battle defeated three Roman generals; and though they could not thereby prevail on the general confederacy to embark publicly in their cause, yet they procured from all parts a number of volunteers allured by the hopes of plunder. The Fidenatians were the only state which resolved to renew hostilities; and, as if there were some kind of impiety in commencing war, otherwise than with some atrocious deed, staining their arms now with the blood of the new colonists, as they had formerly done with that of the ambassadors, they joined themselves to the Veientians. The leaders of the two nations then consulted together, whether they should choose Veii or Fidenæ, for the seat of the war: Fidenæ appeared the more convenient. The Veientians, therefore, crossing the Tiber, removed it thither. At Rome the alarm was excessive: the troops were recalled from Veii, very much dispirited by their defeat, and encamped before the Colline gate: others were armed and posted on the walls. Business was stopped in the courts of justice, the shops were shut up, and every thing bore the appearance of a camp rather than of a city.
XXXII. The dictator then, sending criers through the streets called the alarmed people to an assembly, and rebuked them sharply “for suffering their courage to depend so entirely on every trifling incident in the course of fortune, as that on meeting with an inconsiderable loss, and that not owing to the bravery of the enemy, or to want of courage in the Roman army, but to a disagreement between their commanders, they should be seized with dread of their enemies of Veii, whom they had six times vanquished, and of Fidenæ, a town as often taken as attacked. He reminded them, that both the Romans and their enemies were the same that they had been for so many centuries past, their courage the same; their strength of body the same; and the same the arms which they wore. That he himself, Mamercus Æmilius, was also the same dictator who formerly at Fidenæ routed the armies of the Veientians and Fidenatians, when they had the additional support of the Faliscians; and his master of the horse was the same Aulus Cornelius, who in a former war, when he ranked as military tribune, slew Lars Tolumnius, the king of these Veientians, in the sight of both armies, and carried his spolia opima to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. He exhorted them therefore to take arms, reflecting that on their side were triumphs, on their side spoils, on their side victory; on the side of the enemy, the guilt of violating the laws of nations by the murder of ambassadors, the massacre of the Fidenatian colonists in time of peace, the infraction of truces, and a seventh unsuccessful revolt: assuring them, he was fully confident, that when they should have once encamped within reach of the foe, the joy of those enemies, so deeply plunged in guilt, for the late disgrace of the Roman army, would soon be at an end; and also that a demonstration would be given to the Roman people, how much better these persons merited of the commonwealth, who nominated him dictator a third time, than those, who, out of malice, on account of his having snatched arbitrary power out of the hands of the censors, threw a blot on his second successful dictatorship.” Having offered up vows to the gods, he soon began his march, and pitched his camp fifteen hundred paces on this side of Fidenæ, having his right covered by mountains, and his left by the river Tiber. He ordered Titus Quintius Pennus, lieutenant-general, to take possession of the hills, and to post himself privately on whatever eminence stood in the enemy’s rear. Next day, when the Etrurians had marched out to the field, full of confidence in consequence of their success on the former day, though more indebted for it to accident than to their prowess in fight, the dictator, after waiting a short time, until he received information from his scouts that Quintius had reached an eminence which stood near the citadel of Fidenæ, put his troops in motion, and led on his line of infantry in order of battle in their quickest pace against the enemy. The master of the horse he commanded not to enter on action without orders, telling him that he would give a signal when there should be occasion for the aid of the cavalry, and desiring him then to show by his behaviour, that he still bore in mind his fight with their king, the magnificent offering which he had made, and the respect which he owed to Romulus and Jupiter Feretrius. The legions began the conflict with impetuosity. The Romans, inflamed with keen animosity, gratified their rancour both with deeds and words, upbraiding the Fidenatians with impiety, the Veientians as robbers, calling them truce-breakers, polluted with the horrid murder of ambassadors, stained with the blood of their own brethren of the colony, perfidious allies, and dastardly foes.
XXXIII. Their very first onset had made an impression on the enemy, when, on a sudden, the gates of Fidenæ flying open, a strange kind of army sallied forth, unknown and unheard-of before. An immense multitude, armed with burning fire-brands, as if hurried on by frantic rage, rushed on against the Romans. This very extraordinary mode of fighting filled the assailants for some time with terror; on which the dictator, who was actively employed in animating the fight, having called up the master of the horse with the cavalry, and also Quintius from the mountains, hastened himself to the left wing, which being in horror from the conflagration, as it might more properly be called than a battle, had retired from the flames, and with a loud voice called out, “Will ye suffer yourselves to be driven from your ground, and retreat from an unarmed enemy, vanquished with smoke, like a swarm of bees? Will ye not extinguish those fires with the sword? Or will ye not each in his post, if we must fight with fire, and not with arms, seize on those brands, and throw them back on the foe? Advance; recollect the honour of the Roman name, your own bravery, and that of your fathers: turn this conflagration on the city of your enemy, and with its own flames demolish Fidenæ, which ye could never reclaim by your kindness. This is what the blood of your ambassadors and colonists, and the desolation of your frontiers, ought to suggest.” At the command of the dictator, the whole line advanced; the firebrands which had been thrown, were caught up; others were wrested away by force, and thus the troops on both sides were armed alike. The master of the horse too, on his part, introduced among the cavalry a new mode of fighting: he ordered his men to take off the bridles from their horses, while he himself clapping spurs to his own, sprung forward, and was carried headlong by the unbridled animal into the midst of the flames. In like manner, the other horses, being spurred on and freed from all restraint, carried their riders with full speed against the enemy. The clouds of dust intermixed with the smoke, excluded the light from both men and horses; so that the latter were consequently not affrighted as the former had been. The cavalry, therefore, wherever they penetrated, bore down every thing with irresistible force. A shout was now heard from a new quarter, which having surprised and attracted the attention of both armies, the dictator called out aloud, that his lieutenant-general Quintius and his party had attacked the enemy’s rear, and then, raising the shout anew, advanced against them with redoubled vigour. The Etrurians, surrounded and attacked both in front and rear, and closely pressed by two armies in two different battles, had no room for retreat, either to the camp, or to the mountains. The way was blocked up by the new enemy, and the horses, freed from the bridles, having spread themselves with their riders over every different part, the greatest number of the Veientians fled precipitately to the Tiber. The surviving Fidenatians made towards the city of Fidenæ. The former, flying in consternation, fell into the midst of their foes and met destruction. Many were cut to pieces on the banks of the river, some were forced into the water and swallowed in the eddies; even such as were expert at swimming, were weighed down by fatigue, by their wounds, and the fright: so that, out of a great number, few reached the opposite bank. The other body proceeded, through their camp, to the city, whither the Romans briskly pursued them, particularly Quintius, and those who had descended with him from the mountains, these being the freshest for action, as having come up towards the end of the engagement.
XXXIV. These entering the gate together with the enemy made their way to the top of the walls, and from thence gave a signal to their friends of the town being taken. The dictator, who had by this time taken possession of the deserted camp, encouraging his men, who were eager to disperse themselves in search of plunder, and with hopes of finding the greater booty in the city, led them on to the gate; and, being admitted within the walls, proceeded to the citadel, whither he saw the crowds of fugitives hurrying. Nor was less slaughter made here than in the field; until, throwing down their arms, and begging only their lives, the enemy surrendered to the dictator: both the city and camp were given up to be plundered. Next day the dictator assigned by lot one captive to each horseman and centurion, and two to such as had distinguished themselves by extraordinary behaviour, and sold the rest by auction: then he led back to Rome his victorious army, enriched with abundance of spoil, and ordering the master of the horse to resign his office he immediately gave up his own, on the sixteenth day of his holding it; leaving the government in a state of tranquillity, which he had received in a state of war and of danger. Some annals have reported, that there was also a naval engagement with the Veientians, at Fidenæ, a fact equally impracticable and incredible; the river, even at present, being not broad enough for the purpose, and at that time, as we learn from old writers, considerably narrower. This we can no otherwise account for, than by supposing that they magnified the importance of a scuffle which took place, perhaps, between a few ships, in disputing the passage of the river, and thereon grounded those empty pretensions to a naval victory.
Y. R. 330. 422.XXXV. The ensuing year had military tribunes, with consular power, Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, Lucius Furius Medullinus, and Lucius Horatius Barbatus. A truce, for twenty years, was granted to the Veientians; and one for three years to the Æquans, although these had petitioned for a longer term. At home, there were no disturbances. The year following, though not distinguished by either troubles abroad or at home, was rendered remarkable by the celebration of the games, which had been vowed on occasion of the war, through the splendid manner in which they were exhibited by the military tribunes, and also through the extraordinary concourse of the neighbouring people.Y. R. 331. 421. The tribunes, with consular power, were Appius Claudius Crassus, Spurius Nautius Rutilus, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, and Sextus Julius Iulus. The shows, to which the several people had come with the concurrent approbation of their states, were rendered more agreeable by the courtesy of their hosts. After the conclusion of the games, the tribunes of the commons began their seditious harangues, upbraiding the multitude, that “they were so benumbed with awe of those very persons who were the objects of their hatred, as to sit down listless in a state of endless slavery; they not only wanted spirit to aspire to the recovery of their hopes of sharing in the consulship; but even, in the election of military tribunes, which lay open to both patricians and plebeians, they showed no regard to themselves or their party. They ought therefore to cease wondering, that no one busied himself in the service of the commons: labour and danger would always be extended on objects from whence honour and emolument might be looked for; and there was nothing which men would not undertake, if, for great attempts, great rewards were proposed. But surely it could neither be required nor expected, that any tribune should rush blindfold into disputes, the danger of which was great, the profit nothing: in consequence of which, he knew, with certainty, that the patricians, against whom his efforts were directed would persecute him with inexpiable rancour; and the commons, on whose side he contended, would never think themselves the more obliged to him. By great honours, the minds of men were elevated to greatness; no plebeian would think meanly of himself, when he ceased to be contemned by others. The experiment ought at length to be made, whether there were any plebeian capable of sustaining a high dignity, or whether it were next to a miracle and a prodigy, that there should exist a man of that extraction endowed with fortitude and industry. By the most vigorous exertions, and after a violent struggle, the point had been gained, that military tribunes with consular power might be chosen from among the commons. Men of approved merit, both in the civil and military line, had stood candidates. During the first years they were hooted at, rejected and ridiculed by the patricians: of late they had desisted from exposing themselves to insult. For his part he could see no reason why the law itself could not be repealed, which granted permission for that which was never to happen: for they would have less cause to blush at the injustice of the law, than at their being passed by on account of their own want of merit.”
XXXVI. Discourses of this sort being listened to with approbation, induced several to offer themselves as candidates for the military tribuneship, each professing intentions of introducing when in office some measure or regulation, advantageous to the commons. Hopes were held forth of a distribution of the public lands, of colonies to be settled, and of money to be raised, for paying the troops, by a tax imposed on the proprietors of estates. The military tribunes soon after laid hold of an opportunity, when most people had retired from the city, having previously given private notice to the senators to attend on a certain day, to procure a decree of the senate, in the absence of the plebeian tribunes — that whereas it was reported, that the Volscians had marched from home with intent to plunder the country of the Hernicians, the military tribunes should therefore proceed to the spot and inspect into the matter, and that an assembly should be held for the election of consuls. At their departure, they left Appius Claudius, son of the decemvir, præfect of the city, a young man of activity; and who had, even from his cradle, imbibed a hatred towards the commons and their tribunes. The plebeian tribunes had no room for contention, either with those who had procured the decree of the senate during their absence; nor with Appius, as the business was already concluded.
Y. R. 332. 420.XXXVII. The consuls elected were Caius Sempronius Atratinus, and Quintus Fabius Vibulanus. An event which is related to have happened in this year, though in a foreign country, deserves to be recorded. Vulturnum, a city of the Etrurians, now Capua, was seized by the Samnites, and called Capua, from Capys their leader, or, which is more probable, from its champaign grounds. The manner in which they made themselves masters of it was this: they were some time before, when the Etrurians had been greatly harassed in war, admitted to a share of this city and its lands; these new settlers, afterwards taking the opportunity of a festival, attacked and massacred in the night the first inhabitants, heavy with sleep and food. After this transaction, the consuls, whom we have mentioned, entered on office on the ides of December: by this time, not only those employed in inquiries had reported that the Volscians were ready to commence hostilities; but also ambassadors from the Latines and Hernicians had brought information, that “never at any former time had the Volscians exerted more diligence and care either in the choice of commanders, or the enlisting of troops: that it was a common expression among them, that they must either lay aside for ever all thoughts of war and arms, and submit to the yoke, or they must prove themselves not inferior to their competitors for empire, either in courage, perseverance, or military discipline.” The intelligence was not without foundation: yet the senate were not affected by it, as might have been expected; and Caius Sempronius, to whom the command fell by lot, acted with carelessness and negligence, in every particular, relying on fortune, as if it were incapable of change, because he before had headed a victorious soldiery against those who had been before overcome; so that there was more of the Roman discipline in the Volscian army than in his own. Success, therefore, as on many other occasions, attended merit. The engagement was entered on by Sempronius, without either prudence or caution, without strengthening the line by a reserve, and without posting the cavalry in a proper situation. The shout gave a presage at the very beginning to which side the victory would incline. That raised by the Volscians was loud and full; whilst the shout of the Romans, dissonant, unequal, lifeless, and often begun anew, betrayed, by its unsteadiness, the fears which possessed them. This made the enemy charge with the greater boldness; they pushed with their shields, and brandished their swords: on the other side, the helmets were seen to droop as the wearers looked round for safety, disconcerted and disordered on every side. The ensigns sometimes kept their ground, deserted by those who ought to support them; at other times they retreated between their respective companies. As yet there was no absolute flight, nor was the victory complete. The Romans covered themselves rather than fought; the Volscians advanced, and pushed fiercely against the line, but still were seen greater numbers of the former falling than running away.
XXXVIII. The Romans now began to give way in every quarter, while the consul Sempronius in vain reproached them, and exhorted them to stand; neither his authority, nor his dignity, had any effect; and they would shortly have turned their backs to the enemy, had not Sextus Tempanius, a commander of a body of horse, with great presence of mind, brought them support, and when their situation was almost desperate. He called aloud, that the horsemen who wished the safety of the commonwealth, should leap from their horses, and, his order being obeyed by every troop, as if it had been delivered by the consul, he said, “unless this cohort, by the power of its arms, can stop the progress of the enemy, there is an end of the empire. Follow my spear, as your standard: show, both to Romans and Volscians, that as no horse are equal to you when mounted, so no foot are equal to you when ye dismount.” This exhortation being received with a shout of applause, he advanced, holding his spear aloft: wherever they directed their march, they forced their way in spite of opposition; and, advancing their targets, pushed on to the place where they saw the distress of their friends the greatest. The fight was restored in every part as far as their onset reached; and there was no doubt, that if it had been possible for so small a number to have managed the whole business of the field, the enemy would have turned their backs.
XXXIX. Finding that nothing could withstand them, the Volscian commander gave directions, that an opening should be made for these targeteers, until the violence of their charge should carry them so far, that they might be shut out from their friends: which being executed, the horsemen on their part were intercepted, in such a manner, that it was impossible for them to force a passage back; the enemy having collected their thickest numbers in the place through which they had made their way. The consul and Roman legions, not seeing, any where, that body which just before had afforded protection to the whole army, lest so many men, of such consummate valour, should be surrounded and overpowered by the enemy, resolved at all hazards to push forward. The Volscians forming two fronts, withstood, on one side, the consul; and the legions, on the other, pressed on Tempanius and the horsemen, who, after many fruitless attempts to break through to their friends, took possession of an eminence, and there forming a circle defended themselves, not without taking vengeance on the assailants. Nor was the fight ended when night came on. The consul kept the enemy employed, never relaxing his efforts as long as any light remained. The darkness at length separated them, leaving the victory undecided: and such a panic seized both camps, from the uncertainty in which they were with respect to the issue, that both armies, as if they had been vanquished, retreated into the nearest mountains, leaving behind their wounded, and a great part of their baggage. The eminence however was kept besieged until after midnight; when intelligence being brought to the besiegers that their camp was deserted, they, supposing that their friends had been defeated, fled also, each wherever his fears transported him. Tempanius apprehending an ambush, kept his men quiet until day-light; and then going out himself with a small party, to make observations, and discovering on inquiry from the wounded men of the enemy, that the camp of the Volscians was abandoned, he called down his men from the eminence with great joy, and made his way into the Roman camp. Here finding every place waste and deserted, and in the same disgraceful state in which he had seen the post of the enemy, before the discovery of their mistake should bring back the Volscians, he took with him as many of the wounded as he could; and not knowing what route the consul had taken, proceeded by the shortest roads to the city.
XL. News had already arrived there of the loss of the battle, and of the camp being abandoned: and great lamentations had been made; for the horsemen above all, the public grief being not inferior to that of their private connections. The consul Fabius, the city being alarmed for its own safety, had troops posted before the gates, when the horsemen being seen at a distance, occasioned at first some degree of fright, while it was not known who they were: but this being presently discovered, people’s fears were converted into such transports of joy, that every part of the city was filled with shouting; each one congratulating the other on the return of the horsemen, safe and victorious. Then were seen pouring out in crowds into the streets from the houses, which a little before had been filled with lamentation and mourning, for friends supposed lost, their mothers and wives; each rushing wildly to her own, and scarcely retaining, in the extravagance of their rejoicings, the powers either of mind or body. The tribunes of the commons, who had commenced a prosecution against Marcus Postumius and Titus Quintius, for having occasioned the loss of the battle at Veii, thought that the recent displeasure of the people towards the consul Sempronius, afforded a fit opportunity for reviving the anger of the public against them. Having, therefore, convened the people, they exclaimed loudly, that the commonwealth had been betrayed by its commanders at Veii; and afterwards, in consequence of their escaping with impunity, the army was also betrayed by the consul in the country of the Volscians, the cavalry, men of distinguished bravery, given up to slaughter, and the camp shamefully deserted. Then Caius Junius, one of the tribunes, ordered Tempanius the horseman to be called; and in their presence addressed him thus: “Sextus Tempanius, I demand of you, whether it is your opinion that the consul Caius Sempronius either engaged the enemy at a proper season, or strengthened his line with a reserve, or discharged any duty of a good consul: and whether you yourself, when the Roman legions were defeated, did not, of your own judgment, dismount the cavalry and restore the fight? Did he afterwards, when you and the horsemen were shut out from our army, either come himself to your relief or send you assistance? Then again, on the day following, did you find support any where? Did you and your cohort, by your own bravery, make your way into the camp? Did ye in the camp find any consul or any army? Or, did ye find the camp forsaken, and the wounded soldiers left behind? These things, it becomes your bravery and honour, which have proved in this war the security of the commonwealth, to declare this day. In fine, where is Caius Sempronius? where are our legions? Have you been deserted, or have you deserted the consul and the army? In short, have we been defeated, or have we gained the victory?”
XLI. In answer to these interrogatories, Tempanius is said to have spoken, not with studied eloquence, but with the manly firmness of a soldier, neither vainly displaying his own merit, nor showing pleasure at the censure thrown on others: “As to the degree of military skill possessed by Caius Sempronius the general, it was not his duty, as a soldier, to judge; that was the business of the Roman people, when, at the election, they chose him consul. He desired, therefore, that they would not require from him a detail of the designs and duties becoming the office of a general, or of a consul; matters which, even from persons of the most exalted capacity and genius, required much consideration: but what he saw, that he could relate. He had seen, before his communication with the army was cut off, the consul fighting in the front of the line, encouraging the men, and actively employed between the Roman ensigns and the weapons of the enemy. He was afterwards carried out of sight of his countrymen: however, from the noise and shouting, he perceived that the battle was prolonged until night; nor did he believe, that it was in their power, on account of the great numbers of the enemy, to force their way to the eminence where he had taken post. Where the army was, he knew not. He supposed that as he, in a dangerous crisis, had taken advantage of the ground to secure himself and his men, in like manner the consul, consulting the safety of his army, had chosen a stronger situation for his camp. Nor did he believe, that the affairs of the Volscians were in a better posture than those of the Roman people: for fortune and the night had caused abundance of mistakes, both on one side and the other.” He then begged that they would not detain him, as he was much distressed with fatigue and wounds; and he was dismissed with the highest expressions of applause, no less for his modesty than his bravery. Meanwhile the consul had come as far as the Temple of Rest, on the road leading to Lavici; whither wagons and other carriages were sent from the city, and which took up the men who were spent with the fatigue of the action, and the march by night. The consul soon after entered the city, and was not more anxiously desirous to clear himself from blame, than he was to bestow on Tempanius the praise which he deserved. While the minds of the citizens were full of grief for the ill success of their affairs, and of resentment against their commanders, the first object thrown in the way of their ill humour was Marcus Postumius, formerly military tribune, with consular power, at Veii, who was brought to trial, and condemned in a fine of ten thousand asses in weight, of brass.* Titus Quintius endeavoured to transfer all the blame of that event from himself on his colleague, who was already condemned; and as he had conducted business with success, both in the country of the Volscians when consul, under the auspices of the dictator Postumius Tubertus, and also at Fidenæ, when lieutenant-general to another dictator, Mamercus Æmilius, all the tribes acquitted him. It is said that his cause was much indebted to the high veneration in which his father Cincinnatus was held; and likewise to Quintius Capitolinus, who being now extremely old, begged with humble supplications that they would not suffer him who had so short a time to live, to carry any dismal tidings to Cincinnatus.
Y. R. 333. 419.XLII. The commons created Sextus Tempanius, Aulus Sellius, Lucius Antistius, and Sextus Pompilius, in their absence, plebeian tribunes; these being the persons whom, by the advice of Tempanius, the horsemen had appointed to command them as centurions. The senate finding that through the general aversion from Sempronius, the name of consul was become displeasing, ordered military tribunes with consular power to be chosen. Accordingly there were elected Lucius Manlius Capitolinus, Quintus Antonius Merenda, and Lucius Papirius Mugillanus. No sooner had the year begun, than Lucius Hortensius, a plebeian tribune, commenced a prosecution* against Caius Sempronius, consul of the preceding year. His four colleagues, in the presence of the Roman people, besought him not to involve in vexation an unoffending general, in whose case fortune alone could be blamed: Hortensius took offence at this, thinking it meant a trial of his perseverance; and that the accused depended not on the intreaties of the tribunes, which were thrown out only for the sake of appearance, but on their protection. Turning first therefore to him, he asked, “Where were the haughty airs of the patrician? Where was the spirit upheld in confidence by conscious innocence, that a man of consular dignity took shelter under the shade of tribunes?” Then to his colleagues; “As to you, what is your intention in case I persist in the prosecution? Do ye mean to rob the people of their jurisdiction, and to overturn the power of the tribunes?” To this they replied; “that with respect both to Sempronius, and to all others, the Roman people possessed supreme authority; that it was neither in their power nor in their wishes to obstruct the exercise of it, but if their prayers in behalf of their general, who was to them a parent, should have no effect, they were determined to change their apparel along with him.” Hortensius then declared, “the commons of Rome shall not see their tribunes in the garb of culprits: I have nothing farther to say to Sempronius, since, by his conduct in command, he has rendered himself so dear to his soldiers.” Nor was the dutiful attachment of the four tribunes more pleasing to the patricians and to the commons, than was the temper of Hortensius, complying so readily with intreaties founded on justice. Fortune no longer indulged the Æquans, who had embraced the doubtful success of the Volscians as their own.
Y. R. 334. 418.XLIII. In the year following, which had for consuls Numerius Fabius Vibulanus and Titus Quintius Capitolinus, son of Capitolinus, nothing memorable was performed under the conduct of Fabius, to whom the province of encountering the enemy fell by lot. The Æquans, on merely showing their spiritless army, were driven off the field in a shameful flight, without affording the consul much honour, for which reason he was refused a triumph; however, as he had effaced the ignominy of the misfortune under Sempronius, he was permitted to enter the city in ovation. As the war was brought to a conclusion with less difficulty than had been apprehended, so the city, from a state of tranquillity, was unexpectedly involved in a scene of turbulent dissensions between the patricians and plebeians. This was the effect of a plan for doubling the number of quæstors: for the consuls having proposed, that, in addition to the two city-quæstors, two others should always attend the consuls, to discharge the business relative to the army, and the measure having been warmly approved by the patricians, the tribunes contended, in opposition to the consuls, that half the number of quæstors should be taken from among the commons, for hitherto patricians only had been elected: against which scheme both consuls and patricians struggled at first with their utmost power. They afterwards offered a concession, that according to the practice in the election of tribunes with consular power, the people should have equal freedom of suffrage with respect to quæstors; yet finding that this had no effect, they, entirely laid aside the design of augmenting the number. No sooner, however, was it dropped by them, than it was taken up by the tribunes, while several other seditious schemes were continually started, and among the rest, one for an agrarian law. The senate was desirous, on account of these commotions, that consuls should be elected rather than tribunes, but no decree could be passed, by reason of the protests of the tribunes, so that the government, from being consular, became a kind of interregnum: nor was even that accomplished without a violent struggle, the tribunes obstructing the meeting of the patricians. The greater part of the ensuing year was wasted in contentions between the new tribunes, and the several interreges, the tribunes sometimes hindering the patricians from assembling to declare an interrex; at others, protesting against the interreges passing a decree for the election of consuls; at last, Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, being declared interrex, severely reproved both the senate and the plebeian tribunes, affirming, that, “the commonwealth, being forsaken by men, and preserved by the care and providence of the gods, subsisted merely by means of the Veientian truce, and the dilatoriness of the Æquans: from which quarter, should an alarm of danger be heard, did they think it right, that the nation, destitute of a patrician magistrate, should be exposed to a surprise? That it neither should have an army, nor a general to enlist one? Did they think an intestine war the proper means to repel a foreign one? Should both take place at the same time, the power of the gods would scarcely be able to preserve the Roman state from ruin. It were much fitter that both parties should remit somewhat of their strict rights; and, by a mutual compromise of their pretensions, unite the whole in concord, the senate permitting military tribunes to be appointed instead of consuls, and the tribunes of the commons ceasing to protest against the four quæstors being chosen out of the patricians and plebeians, indiscriminately, by the free suffrages of the people.”
Y. R. 335. 417.XLIV. The election of tribunes was first held, and there were chosen tribunes, with consular power, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus a third time, Lucius Furius Medullinus a second time, Marcus Manlius and Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, all patricians. The last-named tribune presided at the election of quæstors, when there appeared among several other plebeian candidates, a son of Antistius, a plebeian tribune, and a brother of Sextus Pompilius, of the same order: but neither their power nor interest were able to prevent the people from choosing rather to raise those to the rank of nobility, whose fathers and grandfathers they had seen in the consulship. This enraged all the tribunes to madness, especially Pompilius and Antistius, who were incensed at the disappointment of their relations. “What could be the meaning of this,” they said, “that neither their services, nor the injurious behaviour of the patricians, nor even the pleasure of exercising a newly acquired right, though a power was now granted which had hitherto been refused, had been sufficient to procure, for any plebeian whatever, the office of military tribune, or even that of quæstor? The prayers of a father in behalf of his son, those of one brother in behalf of another, those of persons invested with the tribuneship of the commons, that sacred and inviolable power created for the protection of liberty, had all proved ineffectual. There must certainly have been some fraudulent practices in the case, and Aulus Sempronius must have used more artifice in the election than was consistent with honour;” in fine, they complained loudly, that their relations had been disappointed of the office by his unfair conduct. But as no serious attack could be made on him, because he was secured, both by innocence, and by the office which he held at the time, they turned their resentment against Caius Sempronius, uncle to Atratinus; and, aided by Canuleius, one of their colleagues, entered a prosecution against him on account of the disgrace sustained in the Volscian war. By the same tribunes mention was frequently introduced, in the senate, of the distribution of lands, which scheme Caius Sempronius had always most vigorously opposed; for they foresaw, as it fell out, that, on the one hand, should he forsake that cause, he would be less warmly defended by the patricians; and, on the other if he should persevere, at the time when his trial was approaching, he would give offence to the commons. He chose to face the torrent of popular displeasure, and rather to injure his own cause, than to be wanting to that of the public; and therefore, standing firm in the same opinion, he declared, that “no such largess should be made, which would only tend to aggrandize the three tribunes; affirming, that the object of their pursuits was not to procure lands for the commons, but ill-will against him. That, for his own part, he would undergo the storm with determined resolution; and, with regard to the senate, it was their duty, not to set so high a value on him, or on any other citizen, as through tenderness to an individual, to give room for an injury to the public.” When the day of trial arrived, he pleaded his own cause with the same degree of intrepidity; and, notwithstanding the patricians used every expedient to soften the commons, he was condemned in a fine of fifteen thousand asses.* The same year Postumia, a vestal virgin, was charged with breach of chastity. She was free from the guilt, but took too little pains to avoid the imputation of it, which was grounded merely on suspicion, caused by her too great gayety of dress, and from her manners being less reserved than became her state. The trial having been adjourned to a farther hearing, and she being afterwards acquitted, the chief pontiff, by direction of the college, ordered her to refrain from indiscreet mirth; and, in her dress, to attend more to the sanctity of her character, than to the fashion. In this year Cumæ, a city then possessed by Greeks, was taken by the Campanians.
Y. R. 336. 416.XLV. The ensuing year had for military tribunes with consular power, Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, Publius Lucretius Tricipitinus, Spurius Nautius, and Caius Servilius; a year which, by good fortune, was rendered remarkable, rather by great dangers, than by losses. The slaves formed a conspiracy to set fire to the city in different quarters; and, while the people should be every where intent on saving the houses, to take arms, and seize on the citadel and the capitol. Jupiter frustrated their horrid designs, and the offenders, being seized upon the information of two of their number, were punished. The informers were rewarded with their freedom, and ten thousand asses† in weight of brass, paid out of the treasury, a sum which, at that time, was reckoned wealth. Soon after, intelligence was received at Rome, from good authority, that the Æquans were preparing to renew hostilities, and that this old enemy was joined in the design by a new one, the Lavicanians. Fighting with the Æquans was now become to the state almost an anniversary custom. To Lavici ambassadors were sent, who having returned with an evasive answer, from which it was evident that, though immediate war was not intended, yet peace would not be of long continuance, orders were given to the Tusculans to watch attentively, lest any new commotion should arise at Lavici. The military tribunes, with consular power, of the next year, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, Marcus Papirius Mugillanus,Y. R. 337. 415. Caius Servilius son of Priscus, who, in his dictatorship, had taken Fidenæ, were, soon after the commencement of their office, attended by an embassy from Tusculum, the purport of which was, that the Lavicanians had taken arms, and after having, in conjunction with the Æquans, ravaged that territory, had pitched their camp at Algidum. War was then proclaimed against the Lavicanians. The senate having decreed that two of the tribunes should go out to command the army, and that the other should manage affairs at Rome, there sprung up on a sudden a warm dispute among the tribunes, each representing himself as the fittest person to command in the war, and scorning the business of the city as disagreeable and inglorious. The senate, beholding with surprise this indecent contention between the colleagues, Quintus Servilius said, “Since ye pay no deference either to this august body, or to the commonwealth, parental authority shall put an end to your unseemly altercation. My son, without putting it to the lots, shall hold the command in the city. I hope that those, who are so ambitious of being employed in the war, may act with greater prudence and manliness in their conduct of it, than they show in their present competition.”
XLVI. It was resolved, that the levy should not be made out of the whole body of the people indiscriminately: ten tribes were drawn by lot, and out of these the tribunes enlisted the younger men, and led them to the field. The contentions which began in the city, were, through the same eager ambition for command, raised to a much greater height in the camp. On no one point did their sentiments agree; each contended strenuously for his own opinion; endeavoured to have his own plans and his own commands only put in execution; showed a contempt of the other; and met with the like contempt in return: until at length, on the remonstrances of the lieutenant-generals, they came to a compromise, which was to enjoy the supreme command alternately, each for a day. When these proceedings were reported at Rome, Quintus Servilius, whose wisdom was matured by age and experience, is said to have prayed to the immortal gods, that the discord of the tribunes might not prove as he feared it might, more detrimental to the commonwealth than it had done at Veii; and to have urged his son earnestly to enlist soldiers and prepare arms, as if he foresaw with certainty some impending misfortune. Nor was he a false prophet: for under the conduct of Lucius Sergius, whose day of command it was, the troops were suddenly attacked by the Æquans, in disadvantageous ground, adjoining the enemy’s camp; into which they had been decoyed by vain hopes of mastering it; the enemy counterfeiting fear, and having retreated to their rampart. They were driven in great disorder down a declivity in the rear, and while they tumbled one on another rather than fled, vast numbers were overpowered and slain. With difficulty they defended the camp for that day; and on the following, the enemy having invested it on several sides, they abandoned it in shameful flight through the opposite gate. The generals, lieutenant-generals, and such part of the body of the army as followed the colours, took the rout to Tusculum: the rest dispersing up and down, made their way to Rome by many different roads, bringing exaggerated accounts of the disaster which had happened. This unfortunate affair caused the less consternation, because it was not unexpected, and because there was a reinforcement of troops already prepared by the military tribune, to which, in this disorder of their affairs, they could look for security. By his orders also, after the confusion in the city had been quieted by means of the inferior magistrates, scouts were instantly despatched for intelligence, who brought accounts that the generals and the army were at Tusculum, and that the enemy had not removed their camp. But what chiefly contributed to raise people’s spirits was, that in pursuance of a decree of the senate, Quintus Servilius Priscus was created dictator, a man whose extensive judgment in public affairs the state had experienced, as well on many former occasions as in the issue of that campaign; he alone having, before the misfortune happened, expressed apprehensions of danger from the disputes of the tribunes. He appointed for his master of the horse the tribune by whom he had been nominated dictator, his own son, according to some accounts; but other writers mention Servilius Ahala as master of the horse that year. Then, putting himself at the head of the new raised troops, and sending orders to those at Tusculum to join him, he marched against the enemy, and chose ground for his camp within two miles of theirs.
XLVII. The negligence and the vanity inspired by success, which were formerly manifested in the Roman commanders, were now transferred to the Æquans. In the first engagement, the dictator having thrown the enemy’s van into disorder by a charge of the cavalry, immediately directed the infantry to advance with speed, and slew one of his own standard-bearers who did not readily obey the order. Such ardour was in consequence displayed by the troops that the Æquans could not support the shock of their onset. Vanquished in the field, they fled precipitately to their camp, the taking of which cost even less time and trouble than the battle had done. After the camp had been taken and plundered, the dictator giving up the spoil to the soldiers, the horsemen, who had pursued the enemy in their flight, returned with intelligence, that after their defeat all the Lavicanians, and a great part of the Æquans, had retreated to Lavici; on which the army was next day conducted thither, and the town, being invested on every side, was taken by storm. The dictator having led back his victorious army to Rome, resigned his office, on the eighth day after his appointment; and the senate, seizing the opportunity before the tribunes of the commons should raise seditions about the agrarian laws, voted, in full assembly, that a colony should be conducted to Lavici, at the same time introducing a proposal for a distribution of its lands. One thousand five hundred colonists, sent from the city, received each two acres.Y. R. 338. 414. During two years after the taking of Lavici, in the first of which Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, Lucius Servilius Structus, Publius Lucretius Tricipitinus, all these a second time, and Spurius Rutilus Crassus were military tribunes with consular power; and in the following, Aulus Sempronius Atratinus a third time,Y. R. 339. 413. and Marcus Papirius Mugillanus and Spurius Nautius Rutilus both a second time. There was tranquillity with respect to affairs abroad, but at home dissensions occasioned by agrarian laws.
XLVIII. The incendiaries of the populace were the Spurii, tribunes of the commons, Mæcilius a fourth time, and Mætilius a third, both elected in their absence. A very violent contest between the patricians and plebeians was now expected on the subject of the agrarian laws; for these tribunes had publicly proposed, that the lands, taken from their enemies, should be distributed in such a manner, that every man might have a share. Had this proposal passed into a law, the property of a great part of the nobles would have been confiscated; for scarcely was there any of the public territory, not even the ground on which the city itself was built, but what had been acquired by arms; all of which consequently must have been comprehended in it; nor could the military tribunes, either in the senate, or in the private meetings of the nobles, devise, in this exigency, any promising plan of conduct: when Appius Claudius, grandson of him who had been decemvir for compiling the laws, being the youngest senator in the assembly, is said to have told them, that “he had brought from home, for their use an old scheme, which had been first devised by his family:— that his great grandfather Appius Claudius had shown the patricians one method of baffling the power of the tribunes, by the protests of their colleagues:— that new men were easily drawn off from their designs by the influence of people of consequence, if they were addressed in language suited to the times rather than to the dignity of the speakers. Their sentiments were ever directed by their circumstances. When they should see that their colleagues who first set the business on foot had got the start; and monopolized the whole credit of it with the commons, so that there was no room left for them to come in for any share, they would, without reluctance, lean for support to the cause of the senate, by means of which they might conciliate the favour, not only of the principal patricians, but of the whole body.” Every one expressing approbation, and particularly Quintus Servilius Priscus, highly commending the youth for not having degenerated from the Claudian race, a general charge was given, that they should gain over as many of the college of tribunes as possible, to enter protests. On the breaking up of the senate, the principal patricians made their applications to the tribunes, and by persuasions, admonitions, and assurances that it would be acknowledged as a favour by each of them in particular, and also by the whole senate, they prevailed on six to promise their protests. Accordingly, on the day following, when the senate was consulted, as had been preconcerted, concerning the sedition which Mæcilius and Mætilius were exciting, by the proposal of a largess of most pernicious tendency, the speeches of the principal patricians ran all in the same strain, each declaring that, for his part, “he could neither devise any satisfactory mode of proceeding, nor could he see a remedy any where, unless it were found in the protection of the tribunes. To that office the commonwealth, embarrassed with difficulties, in like manner as a private person in distress, had now recourse for aid: and that it would be highly honourable to themselves, and to their office, if they showed that the tribuneship possessed not greater power to harass the senate, and excite discord between the orders in the state, than to favour ill-designing colleagues.” The voices of the whole senate were then heard together, appeals to the tribunes, coming from every corner of the house; and, in some time, silence being obtained, those who had been prepared through the influence of the principal nobility gave notice, “that the proposal of a law, published by their colleagues, which, in the judgment of the senate, tended to the dissolution of the commonwealth, they would oppose with their protests.” The thanks of the senate were given to the protestors: but the authors of the proposal, having called an assembly of the people, abused their colleagues as traitors to the interests of the commons, and slaves to the consulars: but, after uttering other bitter invectives against them, dropped the prosecution of their scheme.
Y. R. 340. 412.XLIX. The two perpetual enemies of the Romans would have given them employment during the following year, in which Publius Cornelius Cossus, Caius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Quintius Cincinnatus, and Numerius Fabius Vibulanus were military tribunes with consular power, had not the religious scruples of their leaders deferred the military operations of the Veientians, in consequence of their lands having suffered severely, principally in the destruction of their country-seats, by an inundation of the Tiber. At the same time, the Æquans, by the loss which they had sustained three years before, were deterred from affording aid to the Volani, one of their kindred states. These had made inroads on the contiguous district of Lavici, and committed hostilities on the new colony: in which unjust proceeding they had hoped to have been supported by the concurrence of all the Æquans; but, being forsaken by their confederates, they, without performing any action worth mentioning, were stripped, in one slight battle and a siege, both of their lands and their city. An attempt made by Lucius Sextius, plebeian tribune, to procure a law that a colony should be sent to Volæ, in like manner as to Lavici, was crushed by the protests of his colleagues; who declared openly that they would not suffer any order of the commons to be passed, unless it were approved by the senate.Y. R. 341. 411. Next year the Æquans, having recovered Volæ, and sent a colony thither, strengthened the town with additional fortifications, the military tribunes with consular power, at Rome, being Cneius Cornelius Cossus, Lucius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, a second time, and Marcus Postumius Regillensis. The conduct of the war with the Æquans was intrusted to the last mentioned, a man of a depraved mind; which, however, did not appear so much in his management of the campaign, as in his behaviour on gaining success. Having, with great activity, levied an army and marched to Volæ, after breaking the spirits of the Æquans in slight engagements, he at length forced his way into the place; where he began a contention with his countrymen, instead of the Æquans. For having proclaimed, during the assault, that the plunder should be given to the soldiers, he broke his word on getting possession of the town. This, I am inclined to believe, was the cause of the displeasure of the army; rather than from finding less booty than the tribune had represented, and which they could not well expect in a new colony, and a town which had been sacked a short time before. Their anger was farther inflamed on his return to the city, (whither he had been summoned by his colleagues, on account of seditions raised by the plebeian tribunes,) from an expression which he was heard to utter in an assembly of the people, and which showed great weakness, or rather a degree of insanity. On Sextius, the plebeian tribune, preposing an agrarian law, and at the same time declaring that he would also propose the sending of a colony to Volæ, because those men deserved to enjoy the city and lands of Volæ, who had gained possession of them by their arms, he exclaimed, “Wo to my soldiers, if they are not quiet.” Which words gave not greater offence to the assembly, than they did soon after to the patricians, when they heard them; and the plebeian tribune, a keen man, and not destitute of eloquence, having found among his adversaries this haughty temper and ungoverned tongue, which he could easily provoke to such expressions as would excite indignation, not only against himself, but against the whole body and their cause, took occasion to draw Postumius more frequently into disputes than any other of the military tribunes. But now, on such a barbarous and inhuman expression, he remarked, “Do ye hear him, citizens! denouncing wo to soldiers as he would to slaves? and yet this brute will be judged by you more deserving of his high office than those who send you into colonies, and enrich you with lands and cities; who provide a settlement for your old age; and who fight, to the last, in defence of your interests. Begin then to learn why so few undertake your cause. What would they have to expect at your hands? posts of honour? These ye choose to confer on your adversaries, rather than on the champions of the Roman people. Ye murmured just now on hearing that man’s words. What does that avail? If ye had an opportunity, this moment, of giving your votes, ye would no doubt prefer him who denounces wo to you, before those who wish to procure establishments for you, of lands, habitations, and property.”
L. The words of Postumius being conveyed to the soldiers, excited in the camp a much higher degree of indignation. “Should a fraudulent embezzler of the spoils,” they said, “denounce also wo to the soldiers?” A general and open avowal of their resentment ensuing, the quæstor, Publius Sextius, supposing that the mutiny might be quashed, by the same violence which had given rise to it, sent a lictor to one of the most clamorous of the soldiers, on which a tumult and scuffle arose, in which he received a blow of a stone, which obliged him to withdraw from the crowd; the person who had wounded him adding, with a sneer, that “the quæstor had got what the general had threatened to the soldiers.” Postumius being sent for, on account of this disturbance, exasperated still farther the general ill humour, by the severity of his inquiries and cruelty of his punishments. At last, a crowd being drawn together, by the cries of some whom he had ordered to be put to death under a hurdle, he gave a loose to his rage, running down from the tribunal, like a madman, against those who interrupted the execution. There the indignation of the multitude, increased by the lictors clearing the way on all sides, and by the conduct of the centurions, burst out with such fury, that the tribune was overwhelmed with stones by his own troops. When this deed of such a heinous nature was reported at Rome, and the military tribunes endeavoured to procure a decree of the senate, for an inquiry into the death of their colleague, the plebeian tribunes interposed their protest. But this dispute was a branch of a contest of another kind; for the patricians had been seized with apprehensions that the commons, actuated by resentment and dread of the inquiries, would elect military tribunes out of their own body; therefore, they laboured with all their might for an election of consuls. The plebeian tribunes, not suffering the decree of the senate to pass, and also protesting against the election of consuls, the affair was brought to an interregnum. The patricians then obtained the victory.
Y. R. 342. 410.LI. Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, interrex, presiding in the assembly, Marcus Cornelius Cossus and Lucius Furius Medullinus were chosen consuls. In the beginning of their year of office, the senate passed a decree, that the tribunes should, without delay, propose to the commons an inquiry into the murder of Postumius, and that the commons should appoint whomsoever they should think proper to conduct the inquiry. The employment was, by a vote of the commons, which was approved by the people at large, committed to the consuls; who, notwithstanding they proceeded in the business with the utmost moderation and lenity, passing sentence of punishment only on a few, who, as there is good reason to believe, put an end to their own lives; yet could he not prevent the commons from conceiving the highest displeasure, and from observing that “any constitutions, enacted for their advantage, lay long dormant and unexecuted; whereas a law passed, in the mean time, consigning their persons and lives to forfeiture, was instantly enforced, and that with such full effect.” This would have been a most seasonable time, after the punishment of the mutiny, to have soothed their minds with such a healing measure as the distribution of the territory of Volæ; as it would have diminished their eagerness in the pursuit of an agrarian law, which tended to expel the patricians from the public lands, the possession of which they had unjustly acquired. But as matters were managed, the ill treatment shown them, in this very instance, was an additional source of vexation, as the nobility not only persisted with obstinacy to retain possession of those public lands, but even refused to distribute to the commons such as had been lately taken from the enemy, which otherwise would, like the rest, in a short time become the prey of a few. This year the legions were led out by the consul Furius against the Volscians, who were ravaging the country of the Hernicians; but not finding the enemy there, they proceeded to and took Ferentinum, whither a great multitude had retreated. The quantity of the spoil was less than they had expected, because the Volscians, seeing small hopes of holding out, had carried off their effects by night, and abandoned the town; which, being left almost without an inhabitant, fell next day into the hands of the Romans. The lands were given to the Hernicians.
Y. R. 343. 409.LII. That year, through the moderation of the tribunes, passed in domestic quiet; but the succeeding one, wherein Quintus Fabius Ambustus and Caius Furius Pacilus were consuls, was ushered in with the turbulent operations of Lucius Icilius, a plebeian tribune. Whilst, in the very beginning of the year, he was employed in exciting sedition by the publication of agrarian laws, as if that were a task incumbent on his name and family, a pestilence broke out, more alarming, however, than deadly, which diverted men’s thoughts from the Forum, and political disputes, to their own houses, and the care of their personal safety. It is believed that the disorder was less fatal in its effects, than the sedition would have proved, the state being delivered from it, with the loss of very few lives; though the sickness had been exceedingly general.Y. R. 344. 408. This year of pestilence was succeeded by one of scarcity, owing to the neglect of agriculture, usual in such cases. Marcus Papirius Atratinus and Caius Nauticus Rutilus were consuls. Famine would now have produced more dismal effects than the pest, had not a supply been procured to the market by despatching envoys round all the nations bordering on the Tuscan sea, and on the Tiber, to purchase corn. The Samnites, who were then in possession of Capua and Cumæ, in a haughty manner prohibited them from trading there: they met, however, with a different reception from the tyrants of Sicily, who kindly afforded every assistance. The largest supplies were brought down by the Tiber, through the very active zeal of the Etrurians. In consequence of the sickness, the consuls were at a loss for men to transact the business of the nation, so that not finding more than one senator for each embassy, they were obliged to join to it two knights. Except from the sickness and the scarcity, there happened nothing during those two years, either at home or abroad, to give them any trouble. But no sooner did those causes of uneasiness disappear than all the evils which had hitherto so frequently distressed the state, started up together, intestine discord and foreign wars.
Y. R. 345. 407.LIII. In the succeeding consulate of Mamercus Æmilius and Caius Valerius Potitus, the Æquans made preparations for war; and the Volscians, though they took not arms by public authority, supplied them with volunteers who served for pay. On the report of hostilities having been committed by them, for they had now marched out into the territories of the Latines and Hernicians, Valerius the consul began to enlist troops, whilst Marcus Mænius, a plebeian tribune, who was pushing forward an agrarian law, obstructed the levies; and as the people were secure of the support of the tribune, no one, who did not choose it, took the military oath — when on a sudden, news arrived that the citadel of Carventa had been seized by the enemy. The disgrace incurred by this event, while it served the senate as a ground of severe reproaches against Mænius, afforded at the same time to the other tribunes, who had been already preengaged to protest against the agrarian law, a more justifiable pretext for acting in opposition to their colleague. Wherefore, after the business had been protracted to a great length, by wrangling disputes, the consuls appealing to gods and men, maintained that whatever losses or disgrace had already been, or was likely to be suffered from the enemy, the blame of all was to be imputed to Mænius, who hindered the levies; Mænius, on the other hand, exclaiming, that if the unjust occupiers would resign the possession of the public lands, he would give no delay to the levies. On this, the nine tribunes interposed, by a decree, and put an end to the contest, proclaiming as the determination of their college, that “they would, for the purpose of enforcing the levy, in opposition to the protest of their colleague, support Caius Valerius in inflicting fines and other penalties, on such as should refuse to enlist.” Armed with this decree, the consul ordered a few, who appealed to the tribune, to be taken into custody; at which, the rest, being terrified, took the military oath. The troops were led to the citadel of Carventa, and though mutual dislike prevailed between them and the consul, yet, as soon as they arrived at the spot, they retook the citadel with great spirit, driving out the troops which defended it. Numbers having carelessly straggled from the garrison, in search of plunder, had left the place so exposed as to be attacked with success. The booty was there considerable; because the whole of what they collected, in their continual depredations, had been stored up in the citadel, as a place of safety. This the consul ordered the quæstors to sell by auction, and to carry the produce into the treasury, declaring that when the soldiers should appear not to have a desire to decline the service, they should then share in the spoil. This so much increased the anger of the people and soldiers against the consul, that when, in pursuance of a decree of the senate, he entered the city in ovation, in the couplets of rude verses, thrown out with military license, and in which he was reflected on with severity, the name of Mænius was extolled with praises, and on every mention of the tribune, the attachment of the surrounding populace, manifested itself in expressions of approbation and applause, which vied with the commendations of the soldiers. This circumstance, in regard to the tribune, more than the wanton raillery of the soldiers against the consul, and which was in some measure customary, gave great uneasiness to the senate; so that, not doubting but Mænius would be honoured with a place among the military tribunes, if he were to be a candidate, they put it out of his reach by appointing an election of consuls.
Y. R. 346. 406.LIV. The consuls elected were Cneius Cornelius Cossus and Lucius Furius Medullinus a second time. The commons were never more highly displeased than now, at not being allowed to elect tribunes. At the nomination of quæstors, they discovered this displeasure, and at the same time took their revenge by raising, for the first time, plebeians to their place: of the four appointed, Cæso Fabius Ambustus was the only patrician; the three plebeians, Quintus Silius, Publius Ælius, and Publius Pupius being preferred before young men of the most illustrious families. That the people exerted this freedom, in giving their suffrages, was owing, I find, to the Icilii, out of which family, the most hostile of any to the patricians, three were chosen tribunes for that year; who, after flattering the multitude with the prospect of various and great designs to be achieved, and thereby exciting their most ardent expectations, affirmed that they would not stir a step, unless the nation would, at least in the election of quæstors, the only one which the senate had left open to both patricians and plebeians, show a proper degree of spirit for the accomplishment of what they had long wished for, and what the laws had put in their power. The commons, therefore, considered this as an important victory, and estimated the quæstorship in its present state, not according to the intrinsic value of the office itself, but as it appeared to lay open to new men an access to the consulship and the honours of a triumph. On the other hand, the patricians expressed great indignation at the prospect of the posts of honour not only being shared with others, but perhaps lost to themselves, affirming, that “if things were to remain in that state, it would be folly to educate children, who, being excluded from the station of their ancestors, and seeing such in possession of their rightful honours, would be left without command or power in the character of Salii or Flamens, with no other employment than that of offering sacrifices for the people.” The minds of both parties became highly irritated, while the commons assumed new courage, in having acquired three leaders of the popular cause, of most distinguished reputation. The senate, seeing that every election wherein the commons had liberty of choosing out of both parties, would prove in the issue like that of the quæstors, were earnest for the naming of consuls, which was not yet laid open to them. On the other hand, the Icilii insisted that military tribunes should be elected, and some posts of dignity be at length imparted to the commons.
LV. The consuls had no business on their hands, by an opposition to which they could extort a compliance with their wishes: when at a moment surprizingly seasonable for their purpose, news was brought that the Volscians and Æquans had marched beyond their own frontiers, to ravage the lands of the Latines and Hernicians. But when the consuls began to levy troops, the tribunes exerted themselves strenuously to hinder it; affirming that this was an advantageous opportunity, presented by fortune to them and to the commons. There were three of them all men of the most active talents, and considerable families among the plebeians. Two of these chose each a consul, whose motions he was to watch with unremitting assiduity, the third had the charge assigned him, of sometimes restraining, sometimes spiriting up the commons by his harangues. Thus the consuls could not accomplish the levy, nor the tribunes the election which they had planned. After some time expresses arrived that the Æquans had attacked the citadel of Carventa, while the soldiers of the garrison were straggling abroad in search of plunder, and had put to death the few who were left to guard it; that several were slain as they were hastily returning to the citadel, with others who were dispersed through the country. This incident, while it prejudiced the state, added force to the project of the tribunes. For, though assailed by every argument to induce them to desist, at least in the present situation of affairs, from obstructing the business of the war, they would not give way either to the storm which threatened the public, or to the torrent of displeasure to which themselves were exposed; and, at length, carried their point, that the senate should pass a decree for the election of military tribunes. This, however, was accompanied with an express stipulation, that no person should be admitted as a candidate who was in that year a plebeian tribune; and that no plebeian tribune should be rechosen for the year following: the senate in this, pointing undoubtedly at the Icilii, whom they suspected of aiming at the consular tribuneship. After this, the levy and other preparations for war, went forward, with the general concurrence of all ranks. The diversity of the accounts given by writers renders it uncertain, whether the two consuls marched to the citadel of Carventa, or whether one remained at home to hold the elections, but those facts in which they do not disagree, we may receive as certain; that, after having carried on the attack for a long time, without effect, the army retired from that citadel; that, by the same army, Verrugo, in the country of the Volscians, was retaken, great devastation made, and immense booty captured, in the territories both of the Æquans and Volscians.
Y. R. 347. 405.LVI. At Rome, as the commons gained the victory, so far as to procure the kind of election which they preferred, so in the issue of it, the patricians were victorious: for, contrary to the expectation of all, three patricians were chosen military tribunes with consular power; Caius Julius Iulus, Publius Cornelius Cossus, and Caius Servilius Ahala. It is said that an artifice was practised by the patricians on the occasion, and the Icilii charged them with it at the time; that by intermixing a number of unworthy candidates, with the deserving, they turned away the people’s thoughts from the plebeian candidates. The disgust was excited by the remarkable meanness of some of the number. Information was now received that the Volscians and Æquans, actuated by hopes, from having been able to keep possession of the citadel of Carventa, or by anger, for the loss of the garrison of Verrugo, had in conjunction commenced hostilities with the utmost force which they could muster, and that the Antians were the chief promoters of this measure; for that their ambassadors had gone about among both those states, upbraiding their spiritless conduct, saying that they had the year before lain hid behind walls, and suffered the Romans to carry their depredations through every part of the country, and the garrison of Verrugo to be overpowered. That now, armed troops, as well as colonies, were sent into their territories; and that the Romans not only kept possession of their property, and distributed it among themselves, but even made presents of a part of it to the Hernicians of Terentinum, a district of which they had been stripped. People’s minds being inflamed by these representations of the envoys, great numbers of the young men were enlisted. Thus the youth of all the several nations were drawn together to Antium, and there pitching their camp, they waited the attack. These violent proceedings being reported at Rome, and exaggerated beyond the truth, the senate instantly ordered a dictator to be nominated, their ultimate resource in all perilous conjunctures. We are told that this measure gave great offence to Julius and Cornelius, and was not accomplished without much ill temper in others. The principal patricians, after many fruitless complaints against the military tribunes, for refusing to be directed by the senate, at last went so far as to appeal to the tribunes of the commons, representing, that compulsory measures had been used by that body even to consuls in a similar case. The plebeian tribunes, overjoyed at this dissension among the patricians, made answer, that “there was no support to be expected from persons who were not accounted in the number of citizens, and scarcely of the human race. If at any time the posts of honour should cease to be confined to one party, and the people should be admitted to a share in the administration of government, they would then exert their endeavours to prevent the decrees of the senate being invalidated by any arrogance of magistrates. Until then, the patricians, who were under no restraint in respect to the laws, might by themselves manage the tribunitian office along with the rest.”
LVII. This connection, at a most unseasonable time, and when they had on their hands a war of such importance, occupied every one’s thoughts; until at length, after Julius and Cornelius had for a long time descanted, by turns, on the injustice done them in snatching out of their hands the honourable employment entrusted to them by the people, (they being sufficiently qualified to conduct the war,) Servilius Ahala, one of the military tribunes, said, that “he had kept silence so long, not because he was in doubt as to the part he ought to take; for what good citizen would consider his own emolument, rather than that of the public? but because he wished that his colleagues would, of their own accord, yield to the authority of the senate, rather than let supplications be made to the college of tribunes, for support against them. That notwithstanding what had passed, if the situations of affairs would allow it, he would still give them time to recede from an opinion, too obstinately maintained. But as the exigences of war would not wait on the counsels of men, he would prefer the interest of the commonwealth to the regard of his associates; and if the senate continued in the same sentiments, he would, on the following night, nominate a dictator; and if any person protested against the senate passing a decree, he would consider a vote of that body as sufficient authority.”* By this conduct, having, deservedly, obtained the praises and countenance of all, after he had nominated Publius Cornelius dictator, he was himself appointed by him master of the horse, and afforded an example to such as observed his case, and that of his colleagues, that honours and public favour sometimes offer themselves the more readily to those who show no ambition for them. The war produced no memorable event. In one battle, and that gained without difficulty, the enemy were vanquished at Antium. The victorious army laid the lands of the Volscians entirely waste. Their fort, at the lake Fucinus, was taken by storm, and in it three thousand men made prisoners; the rest of the Volscians were driven into the towns, without making any attempt to defend the country. The dictator having conducted the war in such a manner as showed only that he was not negligent of fortune’s favours, returned to the city with a greater share of success than of glory, and resigned his office. The military tribunes, without making any mention of an election of consuls, I suppose through pique for the appointment of a dictator, issued a proclamation for the choosing of military tribunes. The perplexity of the patricians became now greater than ever, when they saw their cause betrayed by men of their own order. In like manner, therefore, as they had done the year before, they set up as candidates the most unworthy of the plebeians, thus creating a disgust against all of these, even the deserving; and then, by engaging those patricians who were most eminently distinguished by the splendor of their character, and by their interest, to stand forth as candidates, they secured every one of the places according to their wish. There were four military tribunes elected,Y. R. 348. 404. all of whom had already served, Lucius Furius Medullinus, Caius Valerius Potitus, Numerius Fabius Vibulanus, and Caius Servilius Ahala: the last being continued in office, by re-election, as well on account of his other deserts, as in consequence of the popularity which he had recently acquired by his singular moderation.
LVIII. In that year, the term of the truce with the Veientian nation being expired, ambassadors and heralds were employed to make a demand of satisfaction for injuries, who, on coming to the frontiers, were met by an embassy from the Veientians. These requested that the others would not proceed to Veii, until they should first have access to the Roman senate. From the senate they obtained, that, in consideration of the Veientians being distressed by intestine dissensions, satisfaction should not be demanded: so far were they from seeking, in the troubles of others, an occasion of advancing their own interests. In another quarter, and in the country of the Volscians, a disaster was felt in the garrison at Verrugo being lost. On which occasion so much depended on time, that though the troops besieged there by the Volscians had requested assistance, and might have been succoured, if expedition had been used, the army sent to their relief, came only in time to destroy the enemy, who, just after putting the garrison to the sword, were dispersed, in search of plunder. This dilatoriness was not to be imputed to the tribunes, so much as to the senate; who, because they were told that a very vigorous resistance was made, never considered, that there are certain limits to human strength, beyond which no degree of bravery can proceed. These very gallant soldiers, however were not without revenge, both before and after their death, In the following year, Publius and Cneius Cornelius Cossus,Y. R. 349. 403. Numerius Fabius Ambustus, and Lucius Valerius Potitus being military tribunes with consular power, war was commenced against the Veientians, in resentment of an insolent answer of their senate; who, when the ambassadors demanded satisfaction, ordered them to be told, that if they did not speedily quit the city, they would give them the satisfaction which Lars Tolumnius had given. The Roman senate being highly offended at this, decreed, that the military tribunes should, as early as possible, propose to the people the proclaiming war against the Veientians. As soon as that proposal was made public, the young men openly expressed their discontent. “The war with the Volscians,” they said, “was not yet at an end; it was not long since two garrisons were utterly destroyed, and one of the forts was with difficulty retained. Not a year passed, in which they were not obliged to meet an enemy in the field, and, as if these fatigues were thought too trifling, a new war was now set on foot against a neighbouring and most powerful nation, who would soon rouse all Etruria to arms.” These discontents, first suggested by themselves, were farther aggravated by the plebeian tribunes, who affirmed, that “the war of greatest moment subsisting, was that between the patricians and plebeians. That the latter were designedly harassed by military service, and exposed to the destructive weapons of enemies. They were kept at a distance from the city, and in a state of banishment, lest, should they enjoy rest at home, they might turn their thoughts towards liberty, and the establishment of colonies, and form plans, either for obtaining possession of the public lands, or asserting their right of giving their suffrages with freedom.” Then taking hold of the veterans, they recounted the years which each of them had served, their wounds and scars, asking, “where was there room on their bodies to receive new wounds? what quantity of blood had they remaining which could be shed for the commonwealth?” As they had by these insinuations and remarks, thrown out in public assemblies, rendered the commons averse from the war, the determination on the proposition was adjourned, because it was manifest, that, if it came before them, during the present ill-humour it would certainly be rejected.
LIX. It was resolved, that, in the mean time, the military tribunes should lead an army into the territories of the Volscians. Cneius Cornelius alone was left at Rome. The three tribunes, finding that the Volscians had not any where formed a camp, and that they were resolved not to hazard a battle, divided their forces into three parts, and set out towards different quarters to waste the enemy’s country. Valerius directed his march to Antium, Cornelius to Ecetra, and wherever they came, they made extensive depredations both on the lands and houses, in order to separate the troops of the Volscians. Fabius marched, without plundering, to attack Anxur, which was the principal object in view. Anxur is the city which we now call Tarracinæ, situated on a declivity adjoining a morass. On this side, Fabius made a feint of attacking it, but sent round four cohorts under Caius Servilius Ahala, who, having seized on an eminence which commands the city, assailed the walls, with great shouting and tumult, and where there was no guard to defend them. Those, who were employed in protecting the lower part of the city against Fabius, being stunned and in amazement at this tumult, gave him an opportunity of applying the scaling ladders. Every place was quickly filled with the Romans, and a dreadful slaughter continued a long time without distinction of those who fled and those who made resistance, of the armed or unarmed. The vanquished therefore were under a necessity of fighting, there being no hope for such as retired, until an order was suddenly proclaimed, that no one should be injured except those who were in arms, which induced all the surviving multitude instantly to surrender. Of these, there were taken alive, to the number of two thousand five hundred. Fabius would not suffer his soldiers to meddle with the spoil, until his colleagues arrived, saying, that those armies had also a part in the taking of Anxur, who had diverted the other troops of the Volscians from the defence of the place. On their arrival the three armies plundered the city, which a long course of prosperity had filled with opulence; and this liberality of the commanders first began to reconcile the commons to the patricians: which end was soon after farther promoted; for the principal nobility, with a generosity towards the multitude the most seasonable that ever was shown, procured a decree of the senate, and before such a scheme could be mentioned by the tribunes or commons, that the soldiers should receive pay out of the public treasury,* whereas hitherto every one had served at his own expense.
LX. No measure, we are told, was ever received by the commons with such transports of joy: they ran in crowds to the senate-house, caught the hands of the senators as they came out, declaring that they were fathers in reality, and acknowledging that their conduct had been such, that every man, whilst he had any share of strength remaining, would risk his person, and property, in the cause of a country so liberal to its citizens. Whilst they were delighted with the comfortable prospect of their private substance at all events resting unimpaired, during such time as they should be consigned over to the commonwealth, and employed in its service, their joy received a manifold addition, and their gratitude was raised to a higher pitch, from the consideration that this had been a voluntary grant, having never been agitated by the tribunes, nor attempted to be gained by any requisitions of their own. The plebeian tribunes, alone, partook not of the general satisfaction and harmony diffused through every rank, but averred, that “this would not prove such matter of joy nor so honourable to the patricians, as they themselves imagined. That the plan appeared better on the first view, than it would prove on experience. For how could that money be procured unless by imposing a tax on the people? They were generous to some, therefore, at others’ expense. Besides, even though this should be borne, those who had served out their time in the army would never endure, that their successors should be retained on better terms than they themselves had been; and that they should bear the expense first of their own service and then of that of others.” These arguments had an effect on great numbers of the commons. At last, on the publication of the decree for levying the tax, the tribunes went so far, as, on their part, to give public notice, that they would give protection to any person who should refuse his proportion, of the tax for payment to the soldiers. The patricians persisted in support of a matter so happily begun. They first of all paid in their own assessment; and there being no silver coined at that time, some of them conveying their weighed brass to the treasury in wagons, gave a pompous appearance to their payments. This being done by the senate with the strictest punctuality, and according to their rated properties, the principal plebeians, connected in friendship with the nobility, in pursuance of a plan laid down, began to pay; and, when the populace saw these highly commended by the patricians, and also respected as good citizens by those of military age, scorning the support of the tribunes, they began at once to vie with each other in paying the tax. The law being then passed, for declaring war against the Veientians, a numerous army, composed chiefly of volunteers, followed the new military tribunes, with consular power, to Veii.
Y. R. 350. 402.LXI. These tribunes were Titus Quintius Capitolinus, Publius Quintius Cincinnatus, Caius Julius Iulus a second time, Aulus Manlius, Lucius Furius Medullinus a second time, and Manius Æmilius Mamercinus. By these Veii was first invested. A little before this siege began, a full meeting of the Etrurians being held at the temple of Voltumna, the question whether the Veientians should be supported by the joint concurrence of the whole confederacy, was left undecided. During the following year the siege was prosecuted with less vigour, because some of the tribunes and their troops were called away to oppose the Volscians.Y. R. 351. 401. The military tribunes, with consular power, of this year were, Caius Valerius Potitus a third time, Manius Sergius Fidenas, Publius Cornelius Maluginensis, Cneius Cornelius Cossus, Cæso Fabius Ambustus, Spurius Nautius Rutilus, a second time. A pitched battle was fought with the Volscians, between Ferentinum and Ecetra, in which the Romans had the advantage. Siege was then laid by the tribunes to Artena, a town of the Volscians. After some time, the enemy having attempted a sally, and being driven back into the town, the besiegers got an opportunity of forcing their way in, and made themselves masters of every place, except the citadel. This fortress was naturally very strong, and a body of armed men had thrown themselves into it. Under its wall great numbers were slain and made prisoners. The citadel was then besieged, but it neither could be taken by storm, because it had a garrison sufficient for the size of the place, nor did it afford any hope of a surrender, because, before the city was taken, all the public stores of corn had been conveyed thither, so that the Romans would have grown weary of the attempt, and retired, had not the fortress been betrayed to them by a slave. He gave admittance, through a place of difficult access, to some soldiers, who made themselves masters of it; and while they were employed in killing the guards, the rest of the multitude, losing all courage at the sight of this unexpected attack, laid down their arms. After demolishing both the citadel and city of Artena, the legions were led back from the country of the Volscians, and the whole power of Rome turned against Veii. The traitor received as a reward, besides his liberty, the property of two families, and was called Servius Romanus. Some are of opinion, that Artena belonged to the Veientians, not to the Volscians: a mistake occasioned by there having been once a town of that name, between Cære and Veii. But that town the Roman kings demolished; it was the property of the Cæritians, not of the Veientians; this other of the same name, the destruction of which we have related, was in the country of the Volscians.
* The records, in which the names of the magistrates in succession, and the most memorable events were recorded.
† The annals were a compendious registry of events, as they occurred, made by the pontiffs, who likewise had the care of the records, and kept both carefully shut up from the inspection of the lower order.
* The first in a family who attained any of the curule offices, that is, any of the superior magistracies, was called novus homo, a new man.
* In the performance of such rites, the slightest mistake of a word or syllable was deemed highly inauspicious; to prevent which, the regular form of words was pronounced by a priest, and repeated after him by the persons officiating.
* Villa publica. It was destined to public uses, such as holding the census or survey of the people, the reception of ambassadors, &c.
* The division of the people into tribes, made by Romulus, regarded the stock, or origin, of the constituent members; the subsequent one, by Servius, was merely local, and a tribe then signified nothing more than a certain space of ground with its inhabitants: but as the tribes increased in number, which they did at last to thirty-five, this kind of division was set aside, and a tribe became, not a quarter of the city, but a fraternity of citizens, connected by a participation in the common rights of the tribe, without any reference to their places of residence. The rustic tribes were always reckoned more honourable than the city tribes, because the business of agriculture was held in the highest estimation, and because the lowest of the people were enrolled in the latter. The difference of rank, among the rustic tribes, depended, partly on their antiquity, and, partly, on the number of illustrious families contained in each. In many cases, the tribes took their names from some of those distinguished families.
† Ærarium facere, signifies to strip a person of all the privileges of a citizen, on which he became civis ærarius, a citizen so far only as he paid taxes.
* To rub it with chalk, in order to increase its whiteness, and render themselves more conspicuous. It was the practice of those who solicited any public office, thus to make their garments more white, candidam: hence they were called candidati; candidates, a word still in use.
* The fines imposed in early times were certain numbers of sheep or oxen: afterwards it was ordered by law that these fines might be appraised, and the value paid in money. Another law fixed a certain rate at which the cattle should be estimated, 100 asses for an ox, 10 for a sheep.
* 32l. 5s. 10d.
* A prosecution before the people was a very tedious business, and afforded the person accused many chances of escaping, even though he should not be able to prove his innocence: he might prevail on the prosecutor to relinquish the charge, or on a plebeian tribune to interpose, or on the augurs to report ill omens on the day of the assembly for the decision; or, at the worst, he might go into voluntary exile: vertere solum exilii gratiâ. A magistrate, who intended to impeach a person before the people, mounted the rostrum, and gave notice that on such a day he intended to accuse that person of such a crime; on which the party accused was obliged to give bail for his appearance, which if he failed to do, he was thrown into prison. On the day appointed, the people being assembled (by centuries if the crime charged was capital, by tribes if fineable,) the person accused was summoned by the crier, and if he did not appear, was punished at the pleasure of the prosecutor. If he appeared, the accuser mounted the rostrum, and began his charge, which he carried on through that and two other days, allowing an interval of one day between each. On the third day he made a recapitulation of the charge, and mentioned the punishment specified in the law for such an offence. This was expressed in writing, and exhibited to public view during three market-days. This proceeding was termed rogatio in respect of the people, and irrogatio in respect of the accused. On the day after the third market-day, the accuser finished the business of the prosecution, and concluded with giving notice of the day on which the assembly should meet to pass judgment. The accused was then at liberty to make his defence, either by himself, or by advocates.
* 48l. 8s. 9d.
† 32l. 5s. 10d.
* Many circumstances might prevent the senate’s passing a decree; in such cases the opinion of the majority was recorded, and was called senatus auctoritas. It might be referred to the people for confirmation.
* The foot soldiers only. The horse did not receive pay until three years after. The pay of a foot soldier, in the time of the second Punick war, was three asscs; too small, if they had not received an allowance of corn and sometimes of clothes.
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