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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 33: The Decemvirate.[451 BC]
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For the second time -- in the 301st year from the foundation of Rome -- was the form of government changed; the supreme authority was transferred from consuls to decemvirs, just as it had previously passed from kings to consuls. The change was the less owing to its short duration, for the happy beginnings of that government developed into too luxuriant a growth; hence its early failure and the return to the old practice of entrusting to two men the name and authority of consul. The decemvirs were Appius Claudius, Titus Genucius, Publius Sestius, Lucius Veturius, Gaius Julius, Aulus Manlius, Publius Sulpicius, Publius Curiatius, Titus Romilius, and Spurius Postumius. As Claudius and Genucius were the consuls designate, they received the honour in place of the honour of which they were deprived. Sestius, one of the consuls the year before, was honoured because he had, against his colleague, brought that subject before the senate. Next to them were placed the three commissioners who had gone to Athens, as a reward for their undertaking so distant an embassage, and also because it was thought that those who were familiar with the laws of foreign States would be useful in the compilation of new ones. It is said that in the final voting for the four required to complete the number, the electors chose aged men, to prevent any violent opposition to the decisions of the others. The presidency of the whole body was, in accordance with the wishes of the plebs, entrusted to Appius. He had assumed such a new character that from being a stern and bitter enemy of the people he suddenly appeared as their advocate, and trimmed his sails to catch every breath of popular favour. They administered justice each in turn, the one who was presiding judge for the day was attended by the twelve lictors, the others had only a single usher each. Notwithstanding the singular harmony which prevailed amongst them -- a harmony which under other circumstances might be dangerous to individuals -- the most perfect equity was shown to others. It will be sufficient to adduce a single instance as proof of the moderation with which they acted. A dead body had been discovered and dug up in the house of Sestius, a member of a patrician family. It was brought into the Assembly. As it was clear that an atrocious crime had been committed, Gaius Julius, a decemvir, indicted Sestius, and appeared before the people to prosecute in person, though he had the right to act as sole judge in the case. He waived his right in order that the liberties of the people might gain what he surrendered of his power.

Events: The Decemvirate, Mission to Athens

Anno trecentensimo altero quam condita Roma erat iterum mutatur forma ciuitatis, ab consulibus ad decemuiros, quemadmodum ab regibus ante ad consules uenerat, translato imperio. Minus insignis, quia non diuturna, mutatio fuit. Laeta enim principia magistratus eius nimis luxuriauere; eo citius lapsa res est repetitumque duobus uti mandaretur consulum nomen imperiumque. Decemuiri creati Ap. Claudius, T. Genucius, P. Sestius, L. Veturius, C. Iulius, A. Manlius, P. Sulpicius, P. Curiatius, T. Romilius, Sp. Postumius. Claudio et Genucio, quia designati consules in eum annum fuerant, pro honore honos redditus, et Sestio, alteri consulum prioris anni, quod eam rem collega inuito ad patres rettulerat. His proximi habiti legati tres qui Athenas ierant, simul ut pro legatione tam longinqua praemio esset honos, simul peritos legum peregrinarum ad condenda noua iura usui fore credebant. Suppleuere ceteri numerum. Graues quoque aetate electos nouissimis suffragiis ferunt, quo minus ferociter aliorum scitis aduersarentur. Regimen totius magistratus penes Appium erat fauore plebis, adeoque nouum sibi ingenium induerat ut plebicola repente omnisque aurae popularis captator euaderet pro truci saeuoque insectatore plebis. Decimo die ius populo singuli reddebant. Eo die penes praefectum iuris fasces duodecim erant: collegis nouem singuli accensi apparebant. Et in unica concordia inter ipsos, qui consensus priuatis interdum inutilis est, summa aduersus alios aequitas erat. Moderationis eorum argumentum exemplo unius rei notasse satis erit. Cum sine prouocatione creati essent, defosso cadauere domi apud P. Sestium, patriciae gentis uirum, inuento prolatoque in contionem, in re iuxta manifesta atque atroci C. Iulius decemuir diem Sestio dixit et accusator ad populum exstitit, cuius rei iudex legitimus erat, decessitque iure suo, ut demptum de ui magistratus populi libertati adiceret.