Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: For he had revived the law of treason
Do not display Latin text
History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 53: The Sacred Mountain.[450 BC]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
Valerius and Horatius were then sent to the plebs with terms which it was thought would lead to their return and the adjustment of all differences; they were also instructed to procure guarantees for the protection of the decemvirs against popular violence. They were welcomed in the camp with every expression of delight, for they were unquestionably regarded as liberators from the commencement of the disturbance to its close. Thanks therefore were offered to them on their arrival. Icilius was the spokesman. A policy had been agreed upon before the arrival of the envoys, so when the discussion of the terms commenced, and the envoys asked what the demands of the plebs were, Icilius put forward proposals of such a nature as to show clearly that their hopes lay in the justice of their cause rather than in an appeal to arms. They demanded the re-establishment of the tribunitian power and the right of appeal, which before the institution of decemvirs had been their main security. They also demanded an amnesty for those who had incited the soldiers or the plebs to recover their liberties by a secession. The only vindictive demand made was with reference to the punishment of the decemvirs. They insisted, as an act of justice, that they should be surrendered, and they threatened to burn them alive. The envoys replied to these demands as follows: "The demands you have put forward as the result of your deliberations are so equitable that they would have been voluntarily conceded, for you ask for them as the safeguards of your liberties, not as giving you licence to attack others. Your feelings of resentment are to be excused rather than indulged; for it is through hatred of cruelty that you are actually hurrying into cruelty, and almost before you are free yourselves you want to act the tyrant over your adversaries. Is our State never to enjoy any respite from punishments inflicted either by the patricians on the Roman plebs, or by the plebs on the patricians? You need the shield rather than the sword. He is humble enough who lives in the State under equal laws, neither inflicting nor suffering injury. Even if the time should come when you will make yourselves formidable, when, after recovering your magistrates and your laws, you will have judicial power over our lives and property -- even then you will decide each case on its merits, it is enough now that your liberties are won back."

Event: Second Secession of the Plebs

Tum Valerius Horatiusque missi ad plebem condicionibus quibus uideretur reuocandam componendasque res, decemuiris quoque ab ira et impetu multitudinis praecauere iubentur. Profecti gaudio ingenti plebis in castra accipiuntur, quippe liberatores haud dubie et motus initio et exitu rei. Ob haec iis aduenientibus gratiae actae; Icilius pro multitudine uerba facit. Idem, cum de condicionibus ageretur, quaerentibus legatis quae postulata plebis essent, composito iam ante aduentum legatorum consilio ea postulauit ut appareret in aequitate rerum plus quam in armis reponi spei. Potestatem enim tribuniciam prouocationemque repetebant, quae ante decemuiros creatos auxilia plebis fuerant, et ne cui fraudi esset concisse milites aut plebem ad repetendam per secessionem libertatem. De decemuirorum modo supplicio atrox postulatum fuit; dedi quippe eos aequum censebant uiuosque igni concrematuros minabantur. Legati ad ea: 'Quae consilii fuerunt adeo aequa postulastis ut ultro uobis deferenda fuerint; libertati enim ea praesidia petitis, non licentiae ad impugnandos alios. Irae uestrae magis ignoscendum quam indulgendum est, quippe qui crudelitatis odio in crudelitatem ruitis et prius paene quam ipsi liberi sitis dominari iam in aduersarios uoltis. Nunquamne quiescet ciuitas nostra a suppliciis aut patrum in plebem Romanam aut plebis in patres? Scuto uobis magis quam gladio opus est. Satis superque humili est, qui iure aequo in ciuitate uiuit, nec inferendo iniuriam nec patiendo. Etiam si quando metuendos uos praebituri estis, cum reciperatis magistratibus legibusque uestris iudicia penes uos erunt de capite nostro fortunisque, tunc ut quaeque causa erit statuetis: nunc libertatem repeti satis est.'