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Quote of the day: Lucius Tarquitius, a member of a patrici
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 19: The Terentilian Law -- Fresh Troubles.[460 BC]
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No sooner were order and quiet restored than the tribunes began to press upon the senators the necessity of redeeming the promise made by Publius Valerius; they urged Claudius to free his colleague's manes from the guilt of deception by allowing the Law to be proceeded with. The consul refused to allow it until he had secured the election of a colleague. The contest went on till the election was held. In the month of December, after the utmost exertions on the part of the patricians, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the father of Caeso, was elected consul, and at once took up his office. The plebeians were dismayed at the prospect of having as consul a man incensed against them, and powerful in the warm support of the senate, in his own personal merits, and in his three children, not one of whom was Caeso's inferior in loftiness of mind, while they were his superiors in exhibiting the prudence and moderation where necessary. When he entered on his magistracy he continually delivered harangues from the tribunal, in which he censured the senate as energetically as he put down the plebs. It was, he said, through the apathy of that order that the tribunes of the plebs, now perpetually in office, acted as kings in their speeches and accusations, as though they were living, not in the common-wealth of Rome, but in some wretched ill-regulated family. Courage, resolution, all that makes youth distinguished at home and in the battle-field, had been expelled and banished from Rome with his son Caeso. Loquacious agitators, sowers of discord, made tribunes for the second and third time in succession, were living by means of infamous practices in regal licentiousness. "Did that fellow," he asked, Aulus Verginius, because he did not happen to be in the Capitol, deserve less punishment than Appius Herdonius? Considerably more, by Jove, if any choose to form a true estimate of the matter. Herdonius, if he did nothing else, avowed himself an enemy and in a measure summoned you to take up arms; this man, by denying the existence of a war, deprived you of your arms, and exposed you defenceless to the mercy of your slaves and exiles. And did you -- without disrespect to Gaius Claudius and the dead Publius Valerius, I would ask -- did you advance against the Capitol before you cleared these enemies out of the Forum? It is an outrage on gods and men, that when there were enemies in the Citadel, in the Capitol, and the leader of the slaves and exiles, after profaning everything, had taken up his quarters in the very shrine of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it should be at Tusculum, not at Rome, that arms were first taken up. It was doubtful whether the Citadel of Rome would be delivered by the Tusculan general Lucius Mamilius, or by the consuls, Publius Valerius and Gaius Claudius. We, who had not allowed the Latins to arm, even to defend themselves against invasion, would have been taken and destroyed, had not these very Latins taken up arms unbidden. This, tribunes, is what you call protecting the plebs, exposing it to be helplessly butchered by the enemy! If the meanest member of your order, which you have as it were severed from the rest of the people and made into a province, a State of your own -- if such an one, I say, were to report to you that his house was beset by armed slaves, you would, I presume, think that you ought to render him assistance; was not Jupiter Optimus Maximus, when shut in by armed slaves and exiles, worthy to receive any human aid? Do these fellows demand that their persons shall be sacred and inviolable when the very gods themselves are neither sacred nor inviolable in their eyes? But, steeped as you are in crimes against gods and men, you give out that you will carry your Law this year. Then, most assuredly, if you do carry it, the day when I was made consul will be a far worse day for the State than that on which Publius Valerius perished. Now I give you notice, Quirites, the very first thing that my colleague and myself intend to do is to march the legions against the Volscians and Aequi. By some strange fatality, we find the gods more propitious when we are at war than when we are at peace. It is better to infer from what has occurred in the past than to learn by actual experience how great the danger from those States would have been had they known that the Capitol was in the hands of exiles."