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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 52: Impeachments by the Tribunes of the Plebs.[477-6 BC]
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Together with peace, food came more freely into the City. Corn was brought from Campania and as the fear of future scarcity had disappeared, each individual brought out what he had hoarded. The result of ease and plenty was fresh restlessness, and as the old evils no longer existed abroad, men began to look for them at home. The tribunes began to poison the minds of the plebeians with the Agrarian Law and inflamed them against the senators who resisted it, not only against the whole body, but individual members. Quintus Considius and Titus Genucius, who were advocating the Law, appointed a day for the trial of Titus Menenius. Popular feeling was roused against him by the loss of the fort at the Cremera, since, as consul, he had his standing camp not far from it. This crushed him, though the senators exerted themselves for him no less than they had done for Coriolanus, and the popularity of his father Agrippa had not died away. |
The tribunes contented themselves with a fine, though they had arraigned him on a capital charge; the amount was fixed at 2000 ases. This proved to be a death-sentence, for they say that he was unable to endure the disgrace and grief, and was carried off by a fatal malady.
Spurius Servilius was the next to be impeached. His prosecution, conducted by the tribunes Lucius Caedicius and Titus Statius, took place immediately after his year had expired, at the commencement of the consulship of Gaius Nautius and Publius Valerius. When the day of trial came, he did not, like Menenius, meet the attacks of the tribunes by appeals for mercy, whether his own or those of the senators, he relied absolutely on his innocence and personal influence. The charge against him was his conduct in the battle with the Tuscans on the Janiculum; but the same courage which he then displayed, when the State was in danger, he now displayed when his own life was in danger. Meeting charge by countercharge, he boldly laid upon the tribunes and the whole of the plebs the guilt of the condemnation and death of Titus Menenius; the son, he reminded them, of the man through whose efforts the plebeians had been restored to their position in the State, and were enjoying those very magistracies and laws which now allowed them to be cruel and vindictive. By his boldness he dispelled the danger, and his colleague Verginius, who came forward as a witness, assisted him by crediting him with some of his own services to the State. The thing that helped him more, however, was the sentence passed on Menenius, so completely had the popular sentiment changed.