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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 43: War with the Aequi.[421 BC]
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The consuls for the next year were Numerius Fabius Vibulanus and Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, the son of Capitolinus.|
The Aequi had claimed the doubtful victory of the Volscians as their own, but fortune no longer favoured them. The campaign against them fell to Fabius, but nothing worth mention took place. Their dispirited army had but shown itself when it was routed and put to a disgraceful flight, without the consul gaining much glory from it. A triumph was in consequence refused him, but as he had removed the disgrace of Sempronius' defeat he was allowed to enjoy an ovation. As, contrary to expectation, the war had been brought to a close with less fighting than had been feared, so in the City the calm was broken by unlooked-for and serious disturbances between the plebs and the patricians. It began with the doubling of the number of quaestors. It was proposed to create in addition to the two City quaestors two others to assist the consuls in the various duties arising from a state of war. When this proposal was laid by the consuls before the senate and had received the warm support of that body, the tribunes of the plebs insisted that half the number should be taken from the plebeians; up to that time only patricians had been chosen. This demand was at first opposed most resolutely by the consuls and the senate; afterwards they yielded so far as to allow the same freedom of choice in the election of quaestors as the people already enjoyed in that of consular tribunes. As they gained nothing by this, they dropped the proposal to augment the number altogether. The tribunes took it up, and many revolutionary proposals, including the Agrarian Law, were set on foot in quick succession. In consequence of these commotions the senate wanted consuls to be elected rather than tribunes, but owing to the veto of the tribunes a formal resolution could not be carried, and on the expiry of the consuls' year of office an interregnum followed, and even this did not happen without a tremendous struggle, for the tribunes vetoed any meeting of the patricians.
The greater part of the following year was wasted in contests between the new tribunes of the plebs and some of the interreges. At one time the tribunes would intervene to prevent the patricians from meeting together to appoint an interrex, at another they would interrupt the interrex and prevent him from obtaining a decree for the election of consuls. At last Lucius Papirius Mugilanus, who had been made interrex, sternly rebuked the senate and the tribunes, and reminded them that upon the truce with Veii and the dilatoriness of the Aequi, and upon these alone, depended the safety of the common-wealth, which was deserted and forgotten by men, but protected by the providential care of the gods. Should any alarm of war sound from that quarter, was it their wish that the State should be taken by surprise while without any patrician magistrate that there should be no army, no general to enrol one? Were they going to repel a foreign war by a civil war? If both these should come together, the destruction of Rome could hardly be averted even with the help of the gods. Let them rather try to establish concord by making concessions on both sides - the patricians by allowing military tribunes to be elected instead of consuls; the tribunes of the plebs by not interfering with the liberty of the people to elect the four quaestors from patricians or plebeians indiscriminately.
Event: War with the Aequi