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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 8: Dedication of the temple of Jupiter.[509 BC]
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Laws passed which not only cleared the consul from suspicion but produced such a reaction that he won the people's affections, hence his sobriquet of Publicola. The most popular of these laws were those which granted a right of appeal from the magistrate to the people and devoted to the gods the person and property of any one who entertained projects of becoming king. Valerius secured the passing of these laws while still sole consul, that the people might feel grateful solely to him; afterwards he held the elections for the appointment of a colleague. The consul elected was Spurius Lucretius|
But he had not, owing to his great age, strength enough to discharge the duties of his office, and within a few days he died. Marcus Horatius Pulvillus was elected in his place. In some ancient authors I find no mention of Lucretius, Horatius being named immediately after Brutus; as he did nothing of any note during his office, I suppose, his memory has perished.
The temple of Jupiter on the Capitol had not yet been dedicated, and the consuls drew lots to decide which should dedicate it. The lot fell to Horatius. Publicola set out for the Veientine war. His friends showed unseemly annoyance at the dedication of so illustrious a fane being assigned to Horatius, and tried every means of preventing it. When all else failed, they tried to alarm the consul, whilst he was actually holding the door-post [(1)] during the dedicatory prayer; by a wicked message that his son was dead, and he could not dedicate a temple while death was in his house. As to whether he disbelieved the message, or whether his conduct simply showed extraordinary self-control, there is no definite tradition, and it is not easy to decide from the records. He only allowed the message to interrupt him so far that he gave orders for the body to be burnt; then, with his hand still on the door-post, he finished the prayer and dedicated the temple.
These were the principal incidents at home and in the field during the first year after the expulsion of the royal family. The consuls elected for the next year were Publius Valerius, for the second time, and Titus Lucretius
(1): The dedication of temples was usually conducted by the supreme magistrate. He laid his hand on the doorpost, thus symbolically handing over the building to the god, whilst he recited after the Pontifex the dedicatory prayer. This touching with the hand was a symbolical act in all transfers of property, manumission of slaves, and consecration of sacrificial victims.
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