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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 35: The Second Decemvirate.[451-0 BC]
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But after notice had been given that the election of decemvirs would be held on the third market-day(1) such eagerness to be amongst those elected displayed itself, that even the foremost men of the State began an individual canvass as humble suitors for an office which they had previously with all their might opposed, seeking it at the hands of that very plebs with which they had hitherto been in conflict. I think they feared that if they did not fill posts of such great authority, they would be open to men who were not worthy of them. |
Appius Claudius was keenly alive to the chance that he might not be reelected, in spite of his age and the honours he had enjoyed. You could hardly tell whether to consider him as a decemvir or a candidate. Sometimes he was more like one who sought office than one who actually held it; he abused the nobility, and extolled all the candidates who had neither birth nor personal weight to recommend them; he used to bustle about the Forum surrounded by ex-tribunes of the Duellius and Scilius stamp and through them made overtures to the plebeians, until even his colleagues, who till then had been wholly devoted to him, began to watch him, wondering what he meant. They were convinced that there was no sincerity about it, it was certain that so haughty a man would not exhibit such affability for nothing. They regarded this demeaning of himself and hobnobbing with private individuals as the action of a man who was not so keen to resign office as to discover some way of prolonging it. Not venturing to thwart his aims openly, they tried to moderate his violence by humouring him. As he was the youngest member of their body, they unanimously conferred on him the office of presiding over the elections. By this artifice they hoped to prevent him from getting himself elected; a thing which no one except the tribunes of the plebs had ever done, setting thereby the worst of precedents.
However, he gave out that, if all went well, he should hold the elections, and he seized upon what should have been an impediment as a good opportunity for effecting his purpose. By forming a coalition he secured the rejection of the two Quinctii -- Capitolinus and Cincinnatus -- his own uncle, Gaius Claudius, one of the firmest supporters of the nobility, and other citizens of the same rank. He procured the election of men who were very far from being their equals either socially or politically, himself amongst the first, a step which respectable men disapproved of; all the more because no one had supposed that he would have the audacity to take it. With him were elected Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis, Marcus Sergius, Lucius Minucius, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, Quintus Poetilius, Titus Antonius Merenda, Kaeso Duillius, Spurius Oppius Cornicen, and Manlius Rabuleius.
(1): the third market day -- The country people -- i. e. the bulk of the population -- came into the City to market every eighth day, and consequently the Assembly met for business on those days. It became customary to give notice on the third market day previous to the Assembly.
Event: The Decemvirate