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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 35: Peace abroad -- Domestic Politics.[425-4 BC]
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The following year had for consular tribunes Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Lucius Furius Medullinus, and Lucius Horatius Barbatus. A truce for eighteen years was granted to the Veientines and one for three years to the Aequi, though they had asked for a longer one. There was also a respite from civic disturbances. |
The following year, though not marked by either foreign war or domestic troubles, was rendered memorable by the celebration of the Games vowed the occasion of the war seven years before, which were carried out with great magnificence by the consular tribunes, and attended by large numbers from the surrounding cities. The consular tribunes were Appius Claudius Crassus, Spurius Nautius Rutilus, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, and Sextus Julius Julus. The spectacle was made more attractive to the visitors by the courteous reception which it had been publicly decided to give them.
When the Games were over, the tribunes of the plebs began to deliver inflammatory harangues. They reproached the populace for allowing their stupid admiration of those whom they really hated to keep them in perpetual servitude. Not only did they lack the courage to claim their share in the chance of preferment to the consulship, but even in the election of consular tribunes, which was open to both patricians and plebeians, they never thought of their tribunes or their party. They need be no longer surprised that no one interested himself in the welfare of the plebs. Toil and danger were incurred for those objects from which profit and honour might be expected. There was nothing which men would not attempt if rewards were held out proportionate to the greatness of the effort. But that any tribune of the plebs should rush blindly into contests which involved enormous risks and brought no advantage, which he might be certain would make the patricians whom he opposed persecute him with relentless fury, whilst amongst the plebeians on whose behalf he fought he would not be in the slightest degree more honoured, was a thing neither to be expected nor demanded. Great honours made great men. When the plebeians began to be respected, every plebeian would respect himself. Surely they might now try the experiment in one or two cases, to prove whether any plebeian is capable of holding high office, or whether it would be little short of a miracle for any one sprung from the plebs to be at the same time a strong and energetic man. After a desperate fight, they had secured the election of military tribunes with consular powers, for which plebeians were eligible. Men of tried ability, both at home and in the field, became candidates. For the first few years they were knocked about, rejected, treated with derision by the patricians; at last they declined to expose themselves to these affronts. They saw no reason why a law should not be repealed which simply legalised what would never happen. They would have less to be ashamed of in the injustice of the law than in being passed over in the elections as though unworthy to hold office.