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20 1 The consuls16 appointed to succeed them, Marcus Minucius Augurinus and Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, who were both invested with this magistracy for the second time, being men not unskilled either in arms or in debate, took great care to supply the city plentifully with both cornº and all other provisions, believing that the harmony of the masses depended on their well-being in this respect. Nevertheless, it was not their good fortune to obtain both these ends at the same time, but the surfeit of good things was accompanied by the insolence of those who had the benefit of them. 2 And then it was that Rome p207 was exposed once more to a very grave danger from a most unlikely source. For the ambassadors sent to buy corn, having purchased a large quantity at the public expense in both the maritime and the inland markets, brought it to the city; and the merchants also who used to trade in the markets flocked thither from all parts, of whom the commonwealth bought their lading with the public funds and kept it under guard. 3 Then too Geganius and Valerius, who had been sent earlier as ambassadors to Sicily, arrived with many merchantmen in which they brought fifty thousand Sicilian bushels of wheat, one half of it purchased at a very low price and the rest sent by the tyrant as a free gift to the Romans and conveyed at his own expense. 4 When word was brought to the people in Rome that the ships had arrived from Sicily laden with corn, a long debate arose among the patricians concerning the disposal of it. For those among them who were the most reasonable and the greatest friends of the people, having in view the public necessity, advised them to distribute all the corn given by the tyrant among the plebeians, and to sell to them at a low price that which had been purchased with the public funds, pointing out that by these favours more than by any other means the animosity of the poor against the rich would be moderated. On the other hand, those who were more arrogant and more zealous for the oligarchy thought that they ought to use every effort and every means to oppress the plebeians; and they advised making the provisions as costly as possible to them in order that they might through necessity become p209 more moderate and more observant in general of the principles of justice prescribed by the constitution.
21 1 One17 of this oligarchic party was that Marcius, surnamed Coriolanus, who did not, like the rest, deliver his opinion with secrecy and caution, but with so much openness and boldness that many even of the plebeians heard him. It seems that, besides the general grievance against them which he shared with the others, he had lately received some private provocations that seemed to justify his hatred of the plebeians. 2 For when he had stood for the consulship at the last election, in which he had been supported by the patricians, the people had opposed him and would not permit that magistracy to be conferred on him, since his brilliant reputation and daring inclined them to caution, lest he might make some move to overthrow the tribuneship, and they were particularly apprehensive because the whole body of the patricians promoted his interest with a zeal they had never before shown for any other candidate. 3 Marcius, therefore, being exasperated at this humiliation, and at the same time desirous of restoring the government to its ancient form, not only worked openly himself, as I have already said, to overthrow the power of the people, but also urged his associates on to the same end. He had about him a large faction of young men of noble birth and of the greatest fortunes, as well as many clients who had attached themselves to him for the sake of the booty to be gained in the wars. Elated by these advantages, he assumed a haughty air, became conspicuous, and attained to the greatest distinction. 4 And yet, for all this, he did not come to a fortunate end, as shall now be related. The senate having been p211 assembled to consider the matters I have mentioned, and the older senators, according to custom, having delivered their opinions first, only a few of them declaring openly against the populace, when it came to the turn of the younger senators to speak, Marcius asked leave of the consuls to say what he wished; and meeting with loud acclaim and strict attention, he delivered the following harangue against the populace:
22 1 "That the populace seceded, fathers, not because of necessity and want, but because they were elated by the mischievous hope of destroying your aristocracy and of becoming themselves masters of the commonwealth, I think has become clear to nearly all of you when you observe the advantages which they gained by the accommodation. For they were not content, after they had destroyed the good faith which gave validity to their contracts and had abolished the laws made to secure it, to carry their meddling no farther, but introducing a new magistracy designed to overthrow that of the consuls, they made it sacred and inviolable by law, and have now, unobserved by you, senators, been acquiring a tyrannical power through this newly-enacted law. 2 For when their leaders, in their great power putting forward the specious pretence of coming to the aid of such plebeians as are wronged, sack and pillage whatever they please by virtue of that power, and when there is no man, either private citizen or magistrate, who will oppose their lawless deeds for fear of this law, which destroys even our liberty of speech as well as of action by imposing the penalty of p213 death on all who utter a word befitting freemen, what other name ought to be given by sensible men to this domination but that which is the true one and which you would all own to be such, namely, a tyranny? And if we are under the tyranny, not of one man, but of a whole populace, what is the difference? For the effect of both is the same. 3 It would have been best, therefore, never to have permitted even the seed of this power to be sown, but rather to have submitted to everything, as the excellent Appius, who foresaw these mischiefs from afar, advised. But if that could not be, we ought now at least with one accord to pluck it up by the roots and cast it out of the city while it is yet weak and easily combatted. 4 And we are not the first or the only persons to whom this experience has come, senators, but oft-times in the past many who have been reduced to unenviable straits and have failed to take the best counsel in matters of the greatest consequence, since they did not check the beginnings of the evil, have endeavoured to prevent its growth. And the repentance of those who are late in beginning to be wise, though inferior to foresight, yet, when viewed in another light, is seen to be no less valuable, since it wipes out the error originally made in ignorance by preventing its consequences.
23 1 "But if any of you, while looking upon the actions of the populace as outrageous and believing that they ought to be prevented from making any further mistakes, are nevertheless afraid of seeming to be the first to violate the agreement and transgress the oaths, let them know that, since they will not be the aggressors but will be repelling aggression, p215 and will not be violating the agreement but rather punishing the violators of it, they will not only be guiltless towards the gods, but will also be doing an act of justice while they consult their own interest. 2 And let this be a strong argument that it is not you who are taking the first steps to break the agreement and violate the treaty, but rather the plebeian element, by not observing the conditions upon which they obtained their return. For, after asking for the tribunician power, not in order to injure the senate, but to secure themselves from being injured by the senate, they no longer employ this power for the purposes they ought or on the terms on which they obtained it, but for the overthrow and destruction of the established government. 3 For surely you recall the recent assembly of the people and the harangues there made by their demagogues, what arrogance and unruliness they showed, and how these infatuated men vaunt themselves now, since they have discovered that the whole control of the commonwealth lies in the vote, which they will control, being more numerous than we. 4 What, therefore, remains for us to do, now that they have begun to violate the compact and the law, but to repel the attacks of the aggressors, to deprive them justly of what they now unjustly possess, and for the future to put a stop to their craving for ever more and more? And we should return thanks to the gods for not having permitted them, when they had gained an unfair advantage at first, to act after that with moderation, but for having inspired them with this shamelessness and officiousness which have forced you to endeavour both to recover the rights you have lost and to guard with due care those that remain.
p217 24 "The present opportunity is favourable as no other, if you really intend to begin to act with wisdom, since the greater part of the plebeians are now reduced to dire straits by the famine and the rest cannot hold out for want of money if they find provisions scarce and dear. The worst of them and those who were never pleased with the aristocracy will be forced to leave the city, and the more reasonable will be compelled to behave themselves in an orderly manner without giving you any further trouble. 2 Keep the provisions, therefore, under guard, and abate nothing of the price of commodities, but pass a vote that they shall now be sold at as high a price as ever. For this you have just grounds and plausible excuses in the ungrateful clamour of the populace to the effect that the scarcity of corn was contrived by you, whereas it was occasioned by their own revolt and the desolation of the country which they caused when they pillaged it just as if it had been the territory of an enemy; and again in the disbursements from the treasury to the men sent to purchase corn, and in many other instances in which you have been wronged by them. By this means we shall also know at last what that grievous treatment is which they are going to inflict upon us if we refuse to gratify the people in everything, as their demagogues threatened in order to frighten us. 3 But if you let this opportunity also slip from your grasp, you will often pray for such another. Moreover, if the people should become aware that you desired to overthrow their power but were deterred, they will bear down much harder upon you, looking upon your desire as a proof of enmity and upon your inability to carry it out as evidence of cowardice."
p219 25 After18 this speech of Marcius the opinions of the senators were divided and a great tumult arose among them. For those who from the beginning had opposed the plebeians and submitted to the accommodation against their will, among whom were almost all the youth and the richest and most ambitious of the older senators, some of them resenting the losses sustained in the loans they had made under contract and others their defeat when they sought office, applauded Marcius as a man of spirit and a lover of his country, who advised what was best for the commonwealth. 2 On the other hand, the senators whose sympathies were with the populace and who set no undue value on riches and thought nothing was more necessary than peace, were offended at his speech and rejected his advice. These maintained that they ought to surpass the humbler citizens, not in violence, but in kindness, and that they ought to regard reasonableness as not unbecoming, but necessary, particularly when it was manifested out of goodwill towards their fellow-citizens; and they declared that the advice of Marcius was madness, not frankness of speech or liberty. But this group was small and weak, and hence was overborne by the more violent party. 3 The tribunes, seeing this — for they were present in the senate at the invitation of the consuls — cried out and were in great conflict of mind, calling Marcius the pest and bane of the state for uttering malicious words against the populace; and unless the patricians should prevent his design of introducing civil war into the state by punishing him with death or banishment, they said they would do so themselves. 4 When a still greater tumult arose at p221 these words of the tribunes, particularly on the part of the younger senators, who bore their threats with impatience, Marcius, inspired by these manifestations, now attacked the tribunes with greater arrogance and boldness, saying to them: "Unless you cease disturbing the commonwealth and stirring up the poor by your harangues, I shall no longer oppose you with words, but with deeds."
26 1 The senate being now embittered, the tribunes, finding that those who desired to take away the power granted to the people outnumbered those who advised adhering to the agreement, rushed out of the senate-house shouting and calling upon the gods who had been witnesses to their oaths. After this they assembled the people, and having acquainted them with the speech made by Marcius in the senate, they summoned him to make his defence. 2 But when he paid no regard to them, but repulsed with abusive words the attendants by whom he was summoned, the tribunes grew still more indignant, and taking with them the aediles and many other citizens, ran to seize him; he chanced to be still standing before the senate-house, attended by a large number of the patricians and by the rest of his faction. 3 When the tribunes caught sight of him, they ordered the aediles to lay hold of his person and, if he refused to follow them, to bring him away by force. The aediles at that time were Titus Junius Brutus and Gaius Visellius Ruga. These advanced with the intention of seizing him; but the patricians, looking upon it as a terrible thing that any one of their number should p223 be forcibly carried away by the tribunes before being tried, placed themselves in front of Marcius, and striking all who approached him, drove them away. 4 The news of this occurrence having been spread through the whole city, all rushed out of their houses, the magistrates and the men of means with the purpose of assisting the patricians in protecting Marcius and of recovering their ancient form of government, and those of humble condition and straitened circumstances prepared to aid the tribunes and to carry out any orders they might give. And the feeling of respect, which had hitherto restrained them from venturing to commit any lawless acts against one another, they had now abandoned. However, they did not commit any irreparable deed that day, but postponed a decision until the following day, out of deference to the advice and exhortations of the consuls.
27 1 The next day the tribunes were the first to descend to the Forum; and assembling the people, they came forward one after the other and preferred many charges against the patricians, alleging that they had violated their treaty and transgressed the oaths by which they had promised the people to forget and forgive the past. As proofs that they were not sincerely reconciled to the plebeians they pointed to the scarcity of corn which the patricians had brought about, to the sending out of the two colonies, and to all the other things they had contrived with a view to diminishing the number of the populace. 2 After that they inveighed violently against Marcius, repeating the words he had spoken in the senate, and told them that, when he was summoned by the people to make his defence before them, he had not only not p225 deigned to come, but had even driven away with blows the aediles who came to fetch them. They summoned, as witnesses of what had passed in the senate, the most honoured members of that body, and, as witnesses of the insult offered to the aediles, all the plebeians who had been present at the time in the Forum. 3 Having spoken thus, they gave leave to the patricians to make their defence if they wished; and for that purpose they kept the people together till the senate should be dismissed. For it happened that the patricians were holding a session concerning this very matter, debating whether they should clear themselves to the people of the charges that had been brought against them or should remain quiet. When the majority of the opinions inclined to humane rather than to stubborn measures, the consuls dismissed the meeting and came to the Forum with the intention both of refuting the charges brought against their whole order and of asking the people not to come to any irreparable decision against Marcius. And Minucius, the older of the consuls, coming forward, spoke as follows:
28 1 "Our defence as regards the scarcity is a very brief one, plebeians, and we shall offer no other witnesses than you yourselves to prove the truth of what we allege. For surely even you yourselves know that the land produced no crops of grain for the reason that none was sown. And as for the general ruin of the land, you have no need to be informed by others to what cause it was due and by what means at last the largest and the most fertile part of the land has come to lack all crops, slaves, and cattle — partly because it was being laid waste by the enemy and p227 partly because it was incapable of supplying you who are so numerous and have no other resource. 2 Believe, then, that the famine was occasioned, not by what your demagogues charge, but by what you yourselves know to be true, and cease to attribute this misfortune to plotting on our part and to be angry with us when we are guilty of no wrongdoing. 3 As to the colonists, there was a necessity for sending them out since it was the unanimous decision of all of you to garrison places that will be of use in time of war; and sending them out when the occasion was so very urgent has proved of great advantage both to those who went out and to you who are left behind. For the colonists enjoy there a greater plenty of all the necessaries of life, and those who remain here suffer less from the scarcity of provisions; and the principle of impartiality in sharing the decrees of Fortune, to which we patricians submitted along with you plebeians when we chose the colonists by lot, is not open to censure.
29 1 "What, then, possesses the demagogues to find fault with us for those things in which both our opinions and our fortunes are the same, whether they are hurtful, as they say, or advantageous, as we think. 2 As to the accusations they have made against us in connection with the recent meeting of the senate, to the effect that we did not think fit to show any moderation in the matter of the price of provisions, that we were plotting to abolish the tribunician power, that we still resented your secession and were eager to injure the plebeians in every way, and all the other p229 like charges, we shall soon refute them by our actions, not only in doing you no injury, but also in confirming even now the tribunician power upon the same terms on which we then granted it to you, and in selling the corn at such price as you shall all of you determine. Have patience, therefore, and if any of these things are not performed, accuse us then. 3 But if you will carefully examine our differences, you will find that we patricians have greater reason to accuse the people than you have to blame the senate. For you wrong us, plebeians, — and be not offended at being told this, — if without waiting to learn the outcome of our deliberations you think fit to find fault with them already. 4 Yet who does not know that it would be the easiest of all things for anyone who wished to do so to destroy and abolish from a state the spirit of harmony by charging others with designs of which the proof, being still in the future and not yet manifest, is no safeguard to the accused against suffering some injustice, but rather an excuse to the accuser for doing an injustice? 5 And it is not your leaders alone who deserve censure for accusing and calumniating the senate, but you yourselves no less than they for giving credit to them and resenting injuries before experiencing them. For what you ought to have done, if it was future acts of injustice that you feared, was to reserve your anger for the future also; but, as matters stand, it appears that you have reached your decision with greater haste than prudence and are assuming that greater safety lies in greater baseness.
30 1 "Concerning the acts of injustice with p231 which the tribunes have charged the senate as a body, I think what I have said sufficient. But since they also calumniate every one of us individually for whatever we say in the senate and charge that we are dividing the state, and since they are now endeavouring to put to death or banish Gaius Marcius, a man who loves his country and who expressed himself with frankness in discussing the public interests, I wish to tell you the rights of this matter also; and I ask you to consider whether what I shall say is not fair-minded and true. 2 When you, plebeians, were treating for a reconciliation with the senate, you thought it enough for you to be discharged of your debts, and you desired leave to choose magistrates out of your own body to protect the poor from oppression; and when you obtained both these things, you were very grateful to us. But to undermine the office of the consuls, to take away the authority of the senate to protect the interests of the commonwealth, or to overthrow the established form of government are things you neither asked nor intended to ask. 3 What possesses you, then, that you attempt now to upset all these institutions? Or relying upon what principle of justice do you seek to take away the offices which belong to us? For if you are going to make it dangerous for the senators to express their sentiments with frankness, what fairness is to be expected from the language of your leaders? Or relying upon what law will they undertake to punish any of the patricians with death or banishment? For neither the old laws nor the agreements recently made with p233 the senate give you this power. 4 But to transgress the bounds prescribed by the laws and to render force superior to justice is the mark, not of a democracy, but, if you desire to hear the truth, of a tyranny. For my part, I should advise you, while giving up none of the benefits which you obtained from the senate, not to lay claim, either, to any now which you did not then demand when you were treating for a reconciliation with them.
31 1 "But in order to make it still more plain to you that your demagogues are making demands that are neither moderate nor just, but are aiming at illegal and impossible ends, pray transfer the situation to yourselves and consider it in this light: Imagine that the senators are accusing your political leaders of delivering in your assembly malicious speeches against the senate, of endeavouring to overthrow the established aristocracy, of raising a sedition in the state — all of which they could assert with truth, since they are doing all these things — and, worst of all, of aiming at greater power than was granted to them, in attempting to put to death without a trial anyone of our number they please; and imagine that the senators declare that the persons guilty of these crimes are to be put to death with impunity. 2 How would you bear this arrogance of the senate? And what would you say? Would you not become indignant and complain that you were treated outrageously if anyone deprives you of your freedom of speech and of your liberty by threatening to visit the extreme penalty upon any who have spoken frankly in behalf p235 of the people? 3 You cannot deny that you would. Then do you think it reasonable that others should bear what you yourselves would not submit to? Are these purposes of yours, plebeians, becoming to citizens and do they show moderation? By making such demands do you not yourselves confirm the truth of the charges brought against you and show that those who advise us not to permit your lawless domination to gain new strength have at heart the rights of the commonwealth? So it seems to me, at least. 4 But if you desire to do just the opposite of what you have been charged with doing, follow my advice, moderate your behaviour, and bear as fellow-citizens should, rather than with ill humour, the words which give you offence. For if you do this, you will have a double advantage: you will be regarded as good men and those who are hostile to you will repent.
32 1 "These are the weighty considerations of justice — at least we so regard them — which we put forward in order to persuade you to make no mistakes; but as for our benefits and kindly services, which we shall mention, not from any desire to reproach you, but wishing to make you more reasonable, — apart from those of former times there are the recent ones in connection with your return, — we desire to forget them, though you have just reason to remember them; 2 but we are under the necessity of citing them at this time, asking that, for the many great favours we have bestowed upon you at your request, you will grant us this one on your part — neither to put to death nor to banish from the state a man who loves his country and excels all others in the art of war. For it will be no p237 small loss to us, as you well know, plebeians, if we deprive the commonwealth of such valour. Preferably, then, you ought to relent on his own account, calling to mind how many of you he has saved in the wars, and instead of retaining any resentment for his objectionable words, to remember his glorious deeds. 3 For his speech has done you no harm, whereas his actions have done you great service. However, if you cannot be reconciled to this man, at least as a favour to us and the senate yield him up to our entreaties, be at last firmly reconciled to us, and cause the commonwealth to be united as it was in the beginning. But if you do not yield to our persuasions, be assured that we shall not yield to your violence either; but this testing of the populace will be either the source of a sincere friendship and of still greater benefits for all, or the fresh beginning of civil war and irreparable evils."
33 1 After Minucius had spoken in this manner, the tribunes, seeing the populace moved by the moderation of his speech and the humanity of his promises, were offended and displeased, and particularly Gaius Sicinius Bellutus, the one who had persuaded the poor to secede from the patricians and had been appointed by them to be their general while they were in arms. He was a most bitter foe of the aristocracy, and having for that reason been raised by the multitude to a position of eminence and given the tribunician power for the second time already, he, least of all the demagogues, thought it to his interest that the commonwealth should become harmonious and recover its ancient good order. 2 For not only did p239 he not expect to enjoy the same honours and powers any longer under an aristocracy, since he was of lowly birth, poorly educated, and had never distinguished himself in either war or peace, but he knew he should even be in peril of his life for having caused a sedition in the state and brought upon it many other evils. 3 After he had considered, therefore, what he ought to say and do, and had consulted with his colleagues and gained their assent, he rose up, and after uttering a few words of commiseration over the unhappy lot of the plebeians, he commended the consul for vouchsafing to give them an account of their actions without despising their low condition, and also said he was grateful to the patricians if now at last they were taking some thought for the preservation of the poor; and he declared that he should still more heartily join with all the rest in bearing witness to the fact if they would make their actions conform to their words.
34 1 Having spoken thus and given the impression that he was moderate and conciliatory in disposition, he turned to Marcius, who stood near the consuls, and said: "And you, sir, why do you not clear yourself before your fellow-citizens in regard to what you said in the senate? Or rather, why do you not entreat them and deprecate their anger, that they may impose a milder penalty upon you? For I would not advise you to deny the fact, as so many are acquainted with it, or to have recourse to shameless excuses, since you are Marcius and have a spirit above that of a man in private station — unless, indeed, it is seemly for the consuls and the p241 patricians to intercede for you with the populace, but will not be seemly for you to do this same thing for yourself." 2 This he said, well knowing that a man of his proud spirit would never submit to be his own accuser, and, as if he had transgressed, to ask for a remission of his punishment or, contrary to his character, to have recourse to lamentations and entreaties, but that he would either scorn to make any defence at all or, preserving his innate arrogance, would indulge in no flattery of the populace by showing moderation in his words. 3 And this is just what happened. For when silence prevailed and almost all the plebeians felt a strong desire to acquit him if he would make the most of the present opportunity, he showed such arrogance in his words and so great a contempt of the plebeians that he did not deny a single thing he had said in the senate against them, nor, as if he repented of what he had said, resort to appeals for pity or to prayers for mercy. Indeed, he absolutely refused even to let them be his judges in any matter, as having no lawful authority; but if anyone should think fit to accuse him before the consuls and require an accounting of either his words or his actions, he was ready to stand trial in a place appointed by law. 4 He said that he had come before the plebeians since they themselves summoned him, partly to reprimand them for the lawlessness and the grasping for more power in which they had indulged both in connection with their secession and after their return, and partly to advise them now at last to check and restrain their unjust desires. 5 After that he inveighed against them all p243 with great vehemence and boldness, and particularly against the tribunes. In his speech there was not the calculated deference of the political leader instructing a popular assembly, nor the prudent caution of one in private station who, hated by many, faces the angry outbursts of his ruler, but rather the untempered wrath of an enemy fearlessly insulting those under his power and a harsh contempt for his victim.
35 1 For these reasons, while he was yet speaking, there arose a great tumult, his hearers frequently shifting their opinion now this way now that, as happens in crowds of diverse elements and different inclinations, some being pleased at his word and others in turn offended. And when he had done speaking, a still greater clamour and tumult arose. 2 For the patricians, calling him the bravest of men, commended him for his frankness of speech and said he was the only free man of their whole body, since he had neither feared a host of enemies advancing upon him nor flattered the insolent and illegal impulses of his fellow-citizens; on the other hand, the plebeians, chafing under his reproaches, called him overbearing and harsh and the bitterest of all enemies. 3 And some who were very reckless were already doing their best to have him summarily put to death. In this they were assisted and abetted by the tribunes, and Sicinius in particular gave a loose rein to their desires. At any rate, after he had delivered a long tirade against Marcius and inflamed the minds of the plebeians, he became most vehement in his accusations and then pronounced sentence, saying that the p245 college of the tribunes condemned him to death because of his insolence toward the aediles, whom he had the day before driven away with blows when they were ordered by the tribunes to bring him before them; for they alleged that the insult committed by him against their assistants was aimed at no others than those who had given them their orders. 4 Having said this, he commanded that he be led to the hill that overlooks the Forum;19 this is an exceeding high precipice from which they used to hurl those who were condemned to death. The aediles, accordingly, stepped forward in order to lay hold on him, but the patricians, crying out with a loud voice, rushed upon them in a body. Then the plebeians fell upon the patricians, and there followed many disorderly deeds and many insulting words on both sides, as they pushed and laid hold on one another. 5 However, the moving spirits in the tumult were restrained and compelled to come to their senses by the consuls, who forced their way into the midst of the contending parties and ordered their lictors to keep back the crowds; so great respect did the men of those times feel for this magistracy and so much did they honour the semblance of the royal power. Whereupon Sicinius, being perplexed and disturbed, was filled with apprehension, lest he should force his adversaries to repel violence with violence; but he disdained to desist from his attempt after he had once engaged in it, and finding himself unable to adhere to his resolutions, he considered long what he ought to do.
36 1 Seeing him in this perplexity, Lucius Junius Brutus, that demagogue who had contrived the terms of the accommodation, a man of great p247 sagacity in all matters, but particularly in finding possible solutions in impossible situations,20 came to him and taking him aside, advised him not to persist contentiously in attempting to carry out a reckless and illegal undertaking when he saw not only that the whole body of the patricians was aroused to anger and ready, if the consuls called upon them, to rush to arms, but also that the sturdiest element among the populace were hesitating and in no mood readily to acquiesce in delivering up to death the most illustrious person in the city, and that without a trial. 2 He therefore advised him to yield for the present and not to take issue with the consuls, lest he should cause some greater mischief, but to appoint a trial for the man, setting some time or other for it, and let the citizens give their votes by tribes concerning him; and then to do whatever the majority of the votes should determine. For it was an act of tyranny and violence, he said, that Sicinius was now attempting to accomplish, in constituting the same person at once the accuser and judge and also the one to determine the degree of punishment, whereas the procedure of all civil government is for the accused to have an opportunity to make his defence according to the laws and then to suffer such punishment as the majority of his judges may determine. 3 Sicinius yielded to these arguments, as he saw no better plan; and coming forward, he said: "You see, plebeians, the eagerness of the patricians for deeds of bloodshed and violence, which induces them to prefer one arrogant man, who wrongs the whole p249 commonwealth, to your entire body. Nevertheless, we ought not to imitate them and rush headlong to our ruin, either by beginning war or by defending ourselves against attack. But since some are putting forward the law as a specious pretence and are attempting to snatch him from punishment by rallying to the support of this law which allows no citizen to be put to death without a trial, let us concede them this claim, though we ourselves are not treated by them in either a lawful or a just manner; and let us show that we choose to surpass in reasonableness rather than in violence our fellow-citizens who injure us. 4 As for you, plebeians, depart, therefore, and wait for the destined moment, which will not be long in coming. We on our part will meanwhile get everything ready that is urgent, and having appointed a day for the man to make his defence, we will bring about his trial before you as judges. And when you are legally possessed of the right of giving your votes, inflict such punishment on him as you shall find he deserves. So much for this matter. As to the sale and distribution of the corn in the most equitable manner, if these men and the senate do not take some thought about it, we shall look after the business. Having said this, he dismissed the assembly.
37 1 After this the consuls assembled at the senate and considered with them at leisure by what means the present disturbance might be allayed. And they resolved, first, to win over the plebeians by selling the provisions to them at a very cheap and low price; and in the next place, to endeavour to prevail p251 upon their leaders to desist from their purpose, as a favour to the senate, and not to bring Marcius to a trial; or, if they would not do this, to put it off to the most distant time possible, till the angry feelings of the multitude should die down. 2 Having passed these votes, they laid their decree relating to the provision before the popular assembly, and, as all praised it, they secured its ratification. It was to this effect: that the prices of commodities necessary for daily subsistence should be the lowest they had ever been before the civil strife. But from the tribunes, in spite of many entreaties, they were unable to obtain an absolute dismissal of the charges against Marcius, though they did get a postponement of his trial for as long a time as they asked. And they themselves contrived another delay by taking advantage of the following situation: 3 When the ambassadors sent from Sicily by the tyrant had delivered to the people his present of corn to them, and having sailed for home, were now lying at anchor not far from the harbours of Antium, the Antiates, sending out a piratical force, brought them into port and not only treated their effects as booty taken from an enemy, but also imprisoned the men themselves and kept them under guard. 4 The consuls, being informed of this, caused a vote to be passed to make an expedition against the Antiates, since, when the Romans sent ambassadors to them, they had refused to offer any satisfaction; and having raised an army consisting of all who were of military age, both consuls took the field, after getting a decree of the senate ratified for the suspension of all private and public suits for as long a time as they should continue under arms. 5 This, however, was not so long a time as they had expected, but much shorter. p253 For the Antiates, hearing that the Romans had set out against them with all their forces, did not resist for even the briefest time, but having recourse to prayers and entreaties, delivered up both the persons of the Sicilians whom they had taken and their effects also, with the result that the Romans were under the necessity of returning to the city.
38 1 The army having been disbanded, Sicinius the tribune assembled the populace and announced the day on which he proposed of hold the trial of Marcius. He urged not only the citizens who lived at Rome to come en masse to decide this cause, but also those who resided in the country to leave their tasks to be present on the same day, intimating that they would be giving their votes for the liberty and the safety of the whole commonwealth. He summoned Marcius also to appear and make his defence, assuring him that he should be deprived of none of the privileges the law allowed in connection with trials. 2 In the mean time the consuls, after they had consulted the senate, resolved not to permit the people to get control of so great power. They had found out a just and legal means of preventing it, by which they expected to defeat all the designs of their adversaries. After this they invited the leaders of the people to a conference, at which their friends also were present; and Minucius spoke as follows: 3 "It is our opinion, tribunes, that we ought to endeavour with all our power to banish this sedition from the state and not to engage in rivalry with the people over any matter, especially when we see that you have turned from violent methods to just measures and to debate. p255 But however commendable we may think this resolution of yours, we are of the opinion that the senate ought to take the initiative by passing a preliminary decree, as is our traditional practice.21 4 For you yourselves can testify p4 that from the time our ancestors founded this city the senate has always possessed this prerogative and that the people never determined or voted anything without a previous resolution of the senate, not only now, but even under the kings; for the kings laid the resolutions of the senate before the popular assembly to be ratified. Do not, then, deprive us of this right nor abolish this ancient and excellent custom; but showing the senate that you desire a just and reasonable thing, do you grant the people authority to ratify any decree the senate shall pass."
39 1 While the consuls were thus speaking, Sicinius grew impatient at their words and refused to give the senate authority in any matter at all. But his colleagues, upon the advice of Decius, consented that the preliminary decree should be passed, after they themselves had made a just proposal which it was impossible for the consuls to refuse. 2 They asked, namely, that the senators should grant a hearing to them, who were acting for the people, as well as to those who wished to speak in support of or against the accused, and that after hearing all parties p257 who desired to express their views regarding what they thought just and advantageous to the commonwealth, they should then all give their opinions as in a court of justice, after taking the oath appointed by law; and whatever the majority of the votes determined, should be valid. 3 The tribunes having consented that the senate should pass the preliminary decree as the consuls desired, the meeting was dismissed for the time being. The next day the senate met in the senate-house, and after the consuls had acquainted them with the terms of the agreement they had made, they called the tribunes and bade them state why they were present. Thereupon Decius, who had consented that the preliminary decree should be passed, came forward and spoke as follows:
40 1 "We are not ignorant, senators, of what will happen, namely, that we shall be censured before the people for coming to you, and shall have as our accuser in the matter of the preliminary decree a man who is possessed of the same power as ourselves and who did not think we ought to ask of you that which the law gives us or to receive as a favour that which is our right. And if we are tried for this, we shall run no hazard, but shall be condemned as deserters and traitors and suffer the worst of punishments. 2 But though sensible of these things, we have consented to come to you, relying on the justice of our cause and trusting to the oaths under which you will express your opinions. We are indeed unimportant men to treat of such great and important subjects, and are far from equal to what the situation p259 demands; but the matters we shall discuss are not unimportant. Attend, therefore, to these, and if they shall seem to you just and advantageous to the commonwealth — and, I may add, even necessary — permit us to obtain them of your own free will.
41 1 "I shall speak first concerning the point of justice. After you had got rid of the kings with our assistance, senators, and had established our present constitution, with which we find no fault, you observed that the plebeians had always the worse of it in their suits whenever they had any difference with the patricians, which frequently happened; and you accordingly sanctioned a law, on the advice of Publius Valerius, one of the consuls, permitting the plebeians, when oppressed by the patricians, to appeal their cases to the people; and by means of this law more than by any other measure you both preserved the harmony of the commonwealth and repulsed the attacks of the kings. 2 It is in virtue of this law that we summon Gaius Marcius here to appear before the people because of the injustice and oppression which we all declare we have suffered at his hands, and we call upon him to make his defence before them. And in this case a preliminary decree was not necessary. For whereas in matters concerning which there are no laws you have the right to pass such a decree and the people have the right to ratify it, yet when there is an inviolable law, even though you pass no decree, that law must of course be observed. 3 For surely no one will say that this appeal to the people must be allowed in the case of private citizens who p261 have got the worst of it in their trials, but not in the case of us, the tribunes. 4 Firmly relying, therefore, upon this concession of the law, and thus encouraged to run the risk of submitting our cause to you as our judges, we have come before you. And in virtue of an unwritten and unenacted natural right we make this demand of you, senators, that we may be in neither a better nor a worse condition than you at least in the matter of justice, inasmuch as we have assisted you in carrying on many important wars and have shown the greatest zeal in getting rid of the tyrants, and have had no small part in enabling the commonwealth to take orders from none but to give laws to others. 5 Now the most effectual means you could take, fathers, to put us in no worse a condition than yourselves in point of rights would be to stop those who are making illegal attempts against our persons and our liberty, by placing before their eyes the fear of a trial. So far as magistracies, special privileges, and offices are concerned, we believe we should bestow them upon those who excel us in merit and fortune; but to suffer no wrong, and to receive justice adequate to any wrongs one may sustain, are rights, we hold, which should be equal and common to all who live under the same government. 6 Accordingly, just as we yield to you the privileges that are illustrious and great, so we do not intend to give up those that are equal and common to all. Let this suffice concerning the point of justice, though there are many other things that might be said.
p263 42 "Bear with me now while I explain to you in a few words how these demands of the people will also be advantageous to the commonwealth. For, come now, if anyone should ask you what you regard as the greatest of the evils that befall states and the cause of the swiftest destruction, would you not say it is discord? I, at least, think you would. 2 For who is there among you so stupid, so perverse, and immoderate a hater of equality as not to know that if the people are allowed to render judgment in causes in which the law gives them the authority, we shall live in harmony, whereas, if you decide to the contrary and deprive us of our liberty — for you will be depriving us of liberty if you deprive us of justice and law — you will drive us again into sedition and civil war? For if justice and law are banished from a state, sedition and war are wont to enter there. 3 Now in the case of those who have had no experience of civil calamities, it is no wonder if, because of inexperience of those evils, they neither grieve over the misfortunes that are past nor take early precautions to prevent others in the future; but for those who, when exposed as you were, to the gravest perils, thought themselves happy to be rid of them by making such a settlement of the evils as the situation demanded, what specious or reasonable excuse is left them if they meet again with the same misfortunes? 4 Who would not consider you guilty of great folly and madness when he calls to mind that although just a p265 short time ago, in order to appease a sedition of the plebeians, you submitted to many things against your will, some of which were neither very honourable, perhaps, nor very advantageous, yet now, when you are not destined to be injured in either your fortunes or your reputation or, for that matter, in any of your public interests whatever, you are going to goad all plebeians into war again, to oblige the bitterest foes of democracy? No, not if you are wise. 5 But I should like to ask you what motive induced you at the time to consent to our return upon the terms we desired. Did you foresee in the light of reason what was best, or did you yield to necessity? For if you thought those concessions to be of the greatest advantage to the commonwealth, why do you not adhere to them at present also? And if they were necessary and unavoidable, why are you disgruntled now that they have been made? Possibly you ought not to have granted them in the first place, if you could have avoided it, but once having granted them, you ought no longer to find fault with what is done.
43 1 "For my part, senators, I think you used the best judgment in regard to the accommodation . . .22 to which you are obliged to yield . . .22 to observe faithfully the terms agreed upon. For you gave us the gods as sureties for the performance of the terms by invoking many grievous curses upon those who should violate the compact, both upon them and upon their posterity forever. But I do not know that it is necessary to weary you by saying any more in order to convince you, who are all well acquainted with the facts, that our demands are only what is just and advantageous, and that you are under every necessity of carrying them out, if you are p267 mindful of your oaths. 2 Learn now, fathers, that it is a point of no small importance to us not to relinquish this contest, either yielding to force or deluded by trickery, but that we entered upon it because of the greatest necessity, having suffered outrageous treatment, and worse than outrageous, at the hands of this man. Or rather recall these facts from your own knowledge; for I shall say nothing that is not known to all of you. And at the same time use your own judgment in passing upon what I am saying, reflecting how, if any of us had attempted in an assembly of the people to say or do23 such things against your class as Marcius dared to utter here, you would have felt towards him.
44 1 "For Marcius here was the first man among you who endeavoured to dissolve our unalterable compact of unity with the senate, secured by bonds all but adamantine, a compact which it is unlawful for either you, who swore to its observance, or your posterity to dissolve as long as this city shall be inhabited. And this he did before the compact was in its fourth24 year, nor was it in silence, nor after he had slunk into some secret hole, that he worked for its abrogation, but he openly expressed the opinion in this very place, in the presence of you all, that you ought no longer to allow us the tribunician power, but ought to abolish the first and only safeguard of our liberty, relying on which we entered into the accommodation. 2 Nor did this bluffing stop here, but giving p269 to the liberty of the poor the name of insolence, and to equality that of tyranny, he advised you to deprive us of them. Call to mind, fathers, the most wicked of all the measures he then urged, when he declared it to be a fine opportunity for you to remember again all your resentment against the plebeians for their former offences, and advised that now, while they were distressed for want of money and had already for a long time lacked the necessaries of life, you should crush their whole class by firmly holding the market to the same scarcity of provisions. 3 For we should not hold out for any length of time, he said, while paying a high price for little corn, poor men that we are, but some of us would leave the city and go elsewhere, while those who remained would perish by the most miserable of all deaths. But he was so senseless and infatuated in giving you this advice as not to be able to see even this — that, to say nothing of the other evils he was inflicting by asking the senate to dissolve its compact, such a multitude of poor men, when deprived of the necessaries of life, would be compelled to attack the authors of their calamity, no longer regarding any one as a friend. 4 Consequently, if you had been so mad as to adopt his advice, it must have ended in one of these two ways, for there would have been no middle course: either the whole plebeian multitude would have perished, or even the patrician class would not have survived. For we should not have allowed ourselves to be banished or put to death in so slavish a manner, but, having called upon the p271 gods and lesser divinities to be witnesses to our sufferings, be assured we should have filled the fora and the streets with many dead bodies, and after offering up a great bowl of the blood of our fellow-citizens, we should then have accepted our destined fate. Of such impious deeds, fathers, did he make himself the proponent, and such things did he think fit to demand in his harangue.
45 1 "Nor did Marcius merely undertake to utter words that would divide the city, yet refrain from acting in accordance with his words, but actually keeping about him a body of men ready for any service, he refuses to appear before our magistrates when summoned, and showers blows upon our assistants when at our command they endeavour to bring him away, and at last does not even refrain from offering violence to our own persons. 2 The consequence is that, as far as in him lies, we bear the specious name of an 'inviolable' magistracy, a term given in mockery, but discharge not one of the functions assigned to that magistracy. For how shall we give relief to others who complain that they are injured, when we ourselves have no security? When, therefore, we, the poor, have been thus insulted by one man who, though not yet a tyrant, is nevertheless aiming at tyranny; when we have already suffered many indignities, and came near suffering others, had not the majority of you, fathers, prevented it, have we not good reason to resent this and to feel that we ought to obtain some assistance as well as your sympathy in our resentment, when we summon him p273 to a fair and legal trial, in which the whole populace, divided into their tribes, will give their votes under oath after all who desire to speak have been heard? 3 Go thither, Marcius, and say in your defence before all the citizens in a body what you are intending to say here — either that with the best intention you gave the soundest advice to these senators and that your advice, if followed, would have been advantageous to the commonwealth, or that it is not right that those who deliver their opinions in this place should have to give an account of their words, or that it was not with premeditation or treacherous purpose, but in a momentary yielding to passion that you were led to give this abominable advice, or whatever other defence you can offer. 4 Descend from that overbearing and tyrannical haughtiness to a more democratic behaviour, wretched man, and make yourself at last like other men. Assume the humble and piteous demeanour of one who has erred and is asking pardon, such a demeanour as your plight requires. Seek to save yourself, not by offering violence to those you have injured, but by courting their favour. 5 As an example of moderation, the practice of which would make you free from all reproach on the part of your fellow-citizens, take the actions of these worthy men. Though they are so many in number as you yourself see here present, and have displayed so many virtues both in war and in peace that I could not easily enumerate them in a very long time, yet they, the venerable and great, passed no cruel or haughty p275 sentence against us, the common and humble folk, but even took the lead themselves in making overtures and offered us a reconciliation when Fortune had divided us from one another, and they agreed to make the compact upon the conditions we desired, rather than upon those they thought would be best for themselves; and finally, when the difficulties recently arose over the distribution of corn, for which we blamed them, they took great pains to remove these grounds of offence.
46 1 "I omit all the rest. But in your own behalf, and to deprecate the punishment due to your madness, what intercessions did they not employ with all the plebeians both collectively and individually? Then, if it was seemly, Marcius, for the consuls and the senate, who have the oversight of so great a commonwealth, to submit to the judgment of the populace concerning any charges brought against them, is it not seemly also for you to do likewise? 2 And though these men all argued it as no disgrace to entreat the plebeians to acquit you, do you think this same course disgraceful for yourself? And is this not enough for you, sir, but, just as if you had performed some fine action, do you go about preening yourself and indulging in boastful talk, refusing to abate anything of your pride? 3 I say nothing, you see, of your also reviling, accusing, and threatening the people. And do you not resent his arrogance, fathers, in setting a greater value upon himself alone than even all of you set upon yourselves? And yet, even if you were all willing to vote to engage in war for his sake, he ought to be satisfied with this proof of your goodwill and zeal and not to accept a private favour at the expense of the public injury, but to consent to make his p277 defence, standing trial and, if need be, suffering any punishment. 4 For such would be the behaviour of a good citizen who practises what is honourable in his actions, not merely in his words. But as for the violent deeds in which this man now indulges, of what kind of life do they give evidence? Of what kind of principles is it an indication to violate oaths, to break solemn pledges, to nullify covenants, to make war upon the people, to abuse the persons of magistrates, and to refuse to make oneself accountable for any of these actions, but submitting to no trial, offering no defence, courting no man, fearing no man, and disdaining equally with any one of this great multitude of citizens, to strut about with impunity? 5 Are not these the indications of a tyrannical disposition? I, at any rate, think so. And yet, encouraging and applauding this man are some of your own number, in whose minds is implanted an implacable hatred against the plebeians, and they cannot see that the growth of this evil threatens the humbler portion of the citizens no more than it does the more exalted portion, but imagine that when their adversary is enslaved their own situation will be secure. 6 But this is not so in reality, misguided men. If you will learn from the example afforded by Marcius and from history, and will be admonished by precedents both foreign and native, you will know that tyranny fostered against the people is fostered against the whole commonwealth, and that, though it begins at present with us, yet after it has gained strength it will not spare you either."
p279 47 After Decius had spoken in this manner and the rest of the tribunes had supported him by adding what they thought he had omitted, and it was now time for the senators to deliver their opinions, first the oldest and the most honoured of the ex-consuls, being called upon by the consuls in the customary order, rose up, and after them those who were inferior to them in both these respects, and last of all, the youngest senators, who made no speeches (for that was still looked upon then as disgraceful by the Romans, and no young man presumed to be wiser than an old man), but seconded the opinions delivered by the ex-consuls. 2 It was required, however, that all the senators should come forward and give their votes upon oath as in a court of justice. Then Appius Claudius, whom I mentioned before as the greatest enemy to the plebeians of all the patricians, one who could never relish the agreement made with the plebeians, opposed the passing of the preliminary decree, speaking as follows:
48 1 "For my part, I kept wishing and often prayed to the gods that I might be mistaken in the opinion I entertained concerning the accommodation with the populace, when I thought that the return of the fugitives would be neither honourable and just nor advantageous to us, and from first to last, whenever anything relating to this subject was proposed for our consideration, I was the first of all and finally the only one, after the rest had deserted me, who opposed it. And I also wished that you, senators, who have p281 always hoped for the best and cheerfully granted to the populace all their demands, both just and unjust, might prove to be wiser than I. 2 But now that things have not turned out for you as I wished and prayed, but rather as I expected, and now that the benefits you conferred have ended in envy and hatred, I shall forbear to censure you for your past errors or to cause you needless pain (which is a very easy thing to do and what everyone usually does), as I perceive that it will be out of place at this time. However, I shall endeavour to suggest to you how we may correct such of the past errors as are not absolutely incurable and may act with greater wisdom in the present situation. 3 And yet I am not unaware that I shall appear to some of you to be mad and to be courting death in expressing my opinion freely concerning these matters, when they consider how great danger frankness of speech matters, and reflect on the plight of Marcius, who at this moment runs the risk of losing his life for no other reason. 4 But I believe that I ought not to be more anxious for my personal safety than for the public welfare. For my body has already been given to the perils that attend your cause, senators, and devoted to the struggles in defence of the commonwealth; so that whatever Heaven pleases to ordain, I shall suffer it resolutely either with all of you or with a few, or, if necessary, even alone. But while I have life, no fear shall deter me from saying what I think.
49 1 "In the first place, I want you now at last to be firmly convinced of this, that your plebeian p283 multitude is unfriendly and hostile to the established government, and that all the concessions you have through weakness made to them have not only been wasted by you, but have even exposed you to contempt, as having been granted by you through necessity rather than from goodwill or sober choice. 2 For look at it in this way: When the populace took up arms, and, seceding from you, ventured to become openly your enemies, albeit they had received no injury, but offered as an excuse their inability to discharge their debts and impunity for the offences they had committed during their secession, they would make no further demands, the greater part of you, though not all, misled by their advisers, voted — as would to Heaven they had not! — to abrogate the laws enacted in the interest of the public faith and to grant an amnesty for all the offences that had been committed at that time. 3 But the plebeians were not satisfied with obtaining this favour, which they said was the only one they had mentioned when they seceded, but straightway asked for another concession still greater and more illegal than this — that leave should be granted them to choose tribunes from their own number every year — making our superior strength their excuse for this demand, to the end, forsooth, that some aid and refuge might lie open to the poorer citizens who were wronged and oppressed, though in reality they were plotting against our form of government and desired to change it to a democracy. 4 This magistracy also those advisers of ours prevailed upon p285 us to admit into the commonwealth, though its introduction was to the public detriment and in particular would arouse hatred against the senate, and notwithstanding that I, if you recall, exclaimed against it and called both gods and men to witness that you would bring into the commonwealth endless civil war, and foretold everything that has since befallen you.
50 1 "What, then, did this fine populace of ours do after you had granted them this magistracy also? They did not make a prudent use of so great a benefit nor did they receive it with respect and modesty, but, just as if we were in fear and consternation because of their strength . . .25 then they said this magistracy ought to be declared sacred and inviolable and should be secured by oaths, thus demanding for it a greater honour than you yourselves have conferred upon the consuls. To this also you submitted, and standing over the parts of the sacrificial victims, you invoked utter destruction upon both yourselves and your posterity if you should violate your oath. 2 What, then, did they do when they had obtained this also? Instead of being grateful to you and maintaining our ancestral form of government, they began from these ill-gotten advantages, and making these illegal acts the steps to future encroachments, they not only introduce laws without a preliminary decree of the senate, but enact them without your concurrence; they pay no regard to the decrees you publish; they accuse the consuls of maladministration of the state; and if p287 anything happens contrary to your agreement with them — and there are many things which human reason cannot accurately foresee — they attribute it, not to chance, as they should, but to deliberate intention on your part; and while they pretend that designs are being formed against them by you and that they are afraid you may either deprive them of their liberty or expel them from their country, they themselves are continually forming these very designs against you, and plainly show that their only method of guarding against the mischief they claim to fear consists in being the first to inflict it. 3 This they have often made apparent even before now, upon many occasions which I am prevented from mentioning at present, but particularly by their treatment of Marcius here, a lover of his country and a man who is neither of obscure birth nor inferior himself to any of us in valour, whom they accused of forming designs against them and of giving evil advice in this place, and attempted to put to death without a trial. 4 And if the consuls and the more sagacious among you had not become indignant at this action and joined together to restrain their illegal attempts, you would have been deprived in that one day of everything that your ancestors acquired with many labours and left to you, and of everything that you yourselves possess after undergoing no fewer struggles than they — of your prestige, your supremacy, and your liberty; while those of you who had more spirit and would not have been contented with life alone unless you were to live in the enjoyment of those blessings, would, either then or soon after, have chosen to lose your lives rather than lose these privileges. 5 For if once Marcius had been p289 made away with in some shameful and dastardly a manner, like one all alone in a wilderness, what could have hindered me also, after him, and all of you who had ever opposed or were likely to oppose thereafter the unlawful attempts of the populace, from perishing by being torn in pieces by our enemies? For they would not have been satisfied with getting only the two of us out of the way, nor would they, after going thus far, have desisted from their lawless course, if we are to judge the future from the past; but having begun with us, they would have rushed down like a torrent in flood upon all who opposed them and did not submit to them, and would have swept them away and borne them off, sparing neither birth, merit nor age.
51 1 "These, senators, are the fine returns which the populace have either already made to you, or would have made, if it had not lain in your power to prevent them, for the many great benefits they have received from you. Now consider those things that they did after this magnanimous and prudent action on your part, in order that you may learn how you ought to deal with them. 2 Well then, as soon as they found you resolved no longer to bear their insolence but prepared to join issue with them, they were struck with terror, and recovering themselves slightly, as from a fit of drunkenness or madness, they desisted from violence and had recourse to legal action; and appointing a day, they summoned Marcius to appear then and stand his trial, at which they themselves were to be at once the accusers, the witnesses, and the judges, and the ones to determine the degree of the punishment. 3 And since you opposed this also, p291 because you thought that he was summoned, not to be tried, but to be punished, the populace, perceiving that they have absolute authority in no matter whatever, but only the power of ratifying your preliminary decrees, now abate their arrogance, which then blew so strong, and have come to beg that you will grant them this favour also. 4 Bearing this in mind, therefore, perceive at last and learn that all the privileges you have hitherto granted them, with greater guilelessness than prudent, have brought calamities and harm upon you, but that every courageous stand you have made against their illegal and violent acts has turned out advantageously. 5 What, then, do I advise you to do, now that you understand these things, and what opinion do I express upon the present question? Just this: As regards the privileges and concessions which you made to the populace at the time of your reconciliation, however you came to grant them, I advise you to adhere to them as valid and to abrogate none of the concessions you then made, not because they are honourable and worthy of the commonwealth — how could they be? — but because they are necessary and can no longer be remedied. But as to anything beyond this which they may endeavour to extort from you against your will by violence and illegal means, I advise you not to grant or allow it, but to oppose them both by words and by deeds, not only all of you as a body, but each one individually. 6 For it is not inevitable, if a person has erred once through either deception or necessity, that he should act in like manner in everything else, p293 but mindful of that error, he ought to consider by what means his future conduct may not resemble it. This is the resolution which I think you ought all of you unitedly to have formed, and I advise you to be prepared against the unjust encroachments of the populace.
52 1 "That this matter, which is the subject of your present consideration, is also of a piece with their other unjust and illegal attempts and not, as the tribune endeavoured to prove in order to deceive you, a just and reasonable request, let those among you now learn who are not yet certain of it. Well then, the law relating to the popular courts, the law upon which Decius relied for his chief support, was not enacted against you patricians, but for the protection of such plebeians as are oppressed, as the law itself, written in unequivocal terms, plainly shows, and as all of you, being perfectly acquainted with it, always declare to be the case. 2 Strong proof of this is afforded by the length of time it has been in force, which seems to be the best criterion in the case of every disputed principle of law; for nineteen years have now passed since this law was enacted, and during all this time Decius cannot point to a single instance of a trial, either public or private, brought against any patrician in virtue of this law. But if he shall assert that he can, let him produce it and we need no further discussion. 3 As to the agreement you recently entered into with the plebeians (for it is necessary that you should be informed about this also, since the tribune has shown himself an unscrupulous interpreter of it), it contains these two concessions — that the plebeians shall be discharged p295 of their debts, and that these magistrates shall be elected annually for the relief of the oppressed and the prevention of injustice toward them; and except these, there is no other provision. 4 But let the greatest indication to you that neither this law nor the compact has given the populace the power of trying a patrician be the present behaviour of the populace themselves. For they ask this power of you today, as not having possessed it hitherto; yet no one would ask to receive from others anything to which he is entitled by law. 5 And how can this, senators, be a natural, unwritten right — for Decius thought you ought to consider this — that the populace shall try all causes in which the plebeians are involved, whether the actions are brought against them by the patricians, or by them against the latter, while patricians, whether plaintiffs or defendants in any suit with the plebeians, shall not decide those controversies, but the plebeians shall be given the advantage in both cases, while we enjoy neither right? 6 But if Marcius or any other patrician whatsoever has injured the people and deserves either death or banishment, let him be punished after being tried, not by them, but here, as the law directs. Unless, forsooth, Decius, the populace will be impartial judges and would not show any favour to themselves when giving their votes concerning an enemy, whereas these senators, if they are empowered to vote in his case, will regard the wrong-doer as of more importance p297 than the commonwealth that suffers from his wrongdoing, when as the result of their verdict they are sure to draw upon themselves a curse, the guilt of perjury, the detestation of mankind, and the anger of the gods, and to go through life haunted by dismal hopes! 7 It is unworthy of you, plebeians, to entertain these suspicions about the senate, to whom you acknowledge that you concede honours, magistracies, and the most important powers in the commonwealth on the basis of merit, and to whom you say you feel very grateful for the zeal they showed for your return. These sentiments are inconsistent with one another; and it is not reasonable that you should fear those you commend and entrust the same persons with the more serious responsibilities while at the same time distrusting them in those of less consequence. 8 Why do you not keep to one uniform judgment, either trusting them in everything or distrusting them in everything? But, on the contrary, you think them capable of passing a preliminary decree about principles of right, but not of sitting in judgment concerning these very principles involved in that decree. I had many other things to say concerning the rights of this matter, senators; but let this suffice.
53 1 "But since Decius undertook to speak also on the subject of advantage, pointing out how excellent a thing harmony is and how terrible a thing sedition, and that, if we cultivate the populace, we shall live together in harmony, but if we hinder them from banishing whomsoever of the patricians they wish or murdering them, we shall be involved in a civil war, though I have many things to say upon this head, I shall content myself with very few. p299 2 And first I have to marvel at the dissimulation — surely it is not lack of sense — of Decius, if he imagines that he is a better judge of the interests of the state, though he has just entered upon the administration of public affairs, than we who have grown old in it and have made the city a great from a small one; and, in the next place, if he supposed that he could persuade you that you had to deliver up any man to his enemies to be punished, particularly a fellow-citizen of yours and one who is not a person of no consequence or merit, but one whom you yourselves look upon as most brilliant in war, most exemplary in his private life, and inferior to none in handling public affairs. 3 And these things he has dared to say, though he knows that you show the greatest respect for suppliants and do not exclude them from such humanity even those of your enemies who flee hither for refuge. Indeed, if you knew we practised the very contrary of all this, Decius, entertaining impious ideas about the gods and practising injustice towards men, what deed more dreadful than this could you have advised us to commit, by which we shall incur the hatred of both gods and men and be utterly and totally destroyed? 4 We have no need of your advice, Decius, either about delivering up any of our citizens or about any other business we have to transact. Nor do we believe that, in judging of our own interests, we should use a borrowed wisdom of youths — we who, through long experience of both good and evil fortune, have come to our present age. As for the threats of war with which you endeavour to terrify us — not now employed by you for the first time, but flaunted often in the past by p301 many — leaving them to our habitual mildness to deal with, we shall bear them with intrepidity. 5 And if you indeed try to do anything like what you threaten, we shall defend ourselves with the assistance both of the gods, who are always wroth with the aggressors in an unjust war, and of men, no small number of whom will be our allies. For all the Latins, to whom we lately granted equal rights of citizenship, will be on our side, fighting for this commonwealth as for a country now their fatherland, and the many flourishing cities colonized from Rome, counting it imperative that their mother-city should be saved, will come to her defence. 6 And if you reduce us to the necessity of embracing every kind of assistance, Decius, we shall submit to inviting even our slaves to liberty, our enemies to friendship, and all mankind to a share in our hopes of victory, and then join issue with you. But, O Jupiter and all ye gods who guard the Roman state, may there be no occasion for anything of this kind! Rather may these terrible threats go no farther than words and result in no deplorable act!"
54 1 Thus Appius spoke. Then Manius Valerius, who was the greatest friend to the plebeians of all the senators and had shown the greatest zeal for the accommodation, upon this occasion also openly espoused their cause and delivered a speech, composed with much thought, in which he censured those senators who would not permit the commonwealth to remain united, but sought to divide the plebeians from the patricians and for trifling causes p303 to rekindle the flames of strife. He then commended those who held that there was but one advantage to be considered and that the common advantage, and regarded everything else as secondary to harmony; and he showed them that, if the populace obtained the right to try this man, as they demanded, and received this privilege also with the consent of the senate, possibly they would not even press the prosecution to the end but, satisfied with having got him in their power, would treat him with lenity rather than severity. 2 And even if the tribunes should believe it to be necessary by all means to carry the case through to its lawful conclusion and the populace should thus be empowered to give their votes concerning him, they would acquit him of the charge, partly out of respect for the defendant himself, and partly by way of making this return to the senate for the favour it had granted by giving them this power and by opposing them in nothing that was reasonable. 3 Nevertheless, he advised that not only the consuls, but all the senators and the rest of the patricians as well should be present in a body at the trial and assist Marcius in making his defence and entreat the people to come to no harsh decision concerning him, assure and them that the presence of these men also would contribute not a little toward turning the scales on the side of the defendant's acquittal; and he advised that they should not only thus assist him themselves by expressing their views, but that each of them should summon his own clients and assemble his friends, and if they thought that any of the plebeians were attached to them as the result of benefits they had p305 received from them, they should ask these too to show their gratitude for former favours now when they were to give their votes. 4 He showed them also that there would be no small element among the populace which loved the right and hated the wrong, and an even larger number who knew how to sympathize with human misfortunes and to feel compassion for men in position of honour when their fortunes have suffered reverse. 5 But the greater part of his speech was addressed to Marcius himself, in which he joined exhortation to admonition, and entreaty to compulsion. For he begged of him, since he was accused of dividing the populace from the senate and also charged with being tyrannical by reason of his arbitrary manner, and since all men were filled with fear that because of him there would spring up sedition and all the irreparable evils which civil wars bring in their train, that he would not make true and valid the accusations against himself by persevering in his invidious way of life, but would change it to an humble deportment, submit his person to the power of those who complained of being injured, and not decline to clear himself by a just defence of an unjust charge. 6 For that course was not only for saving his life the surest, he told him, but also, as regarded the reputation he coveted, the most brilliant, and it was in keeping with the deeds he had already performed; whereas, if he should show himself arrogant rather than moderate and expect the senate to expose themselves to every danger for his sake, he declared that the defeat he might bring to those who had listened to him would be disastrous, while a victory would be disgraceful to them. He then indulged p307 in many lamentations and enumerated the most important and the most obvious evils that befall states in times of dissension.
55 1 When he had related all these evils with many tears — tears that were not feigned and affected, but genuine — this man who was eminent for the dignity both of his years and of his merits, perceiving that the senate was moved by his words, proceeded then with confidence to deliver the remainder of his speech. "If any of you, senators," he said, "are disturbed by the thought that you will be introducing a pernicious custom into the commonwealth if you grant the populace the power of giving their votes against the patricians, and entertain an opinion that the tribunician power, if considerably strengthened, will serve no good purpose, let them learn that their opinion is erroneous and their surmise is the opposite of what it should be. 2 For if anything is going to be the means of preserving this commonwealth and insuring that she shall never be deprived of her liberty or her power, but shall ever continue to be united and harmonious in all respects, the most effective instrument will be the populace if taken as partners in the administration of affairs; and what will benefit us above everything will be, not to have a simple and unmixed form of government administering the state, whether monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy, but a constitution combined out of all of these. 3 For each of these forms by itself alone very easily ends in wantonness and lawlessness; but when all of them p309 are duly combined, the element which is inclined at any time to make innovations and to overstep the customary bounds is held in check by the element which is self-restrained and remains true to its own character. Thus monarchy, when it becomes cruel and insolent and begins to pursue tyrannical measures, is overthrown by a few good men. 4 And an oligarchy composed of the best men, which is your present form of government, when it has become elated by reason of its wealth and its bands of partisans, and pays no regard to justice or to any other virtue, is overthrown by a prudent democracy. And when a democracy that is moderate and governs in accordance with laws begins to be disorderly and lawless, it is taken in hand by the strongest man and set right by force. 5 You, senators, have devised all the precautions possible to prevent the monarchical power from degenerating into tyranny, for you have invested two men instead of one with the supreme power of the commonwealth, and though you have entrusted this magistracy to them, not for an indefinite time, but only for a year, you nevertheless appoint, to keep watch over them, three hundred patricians, at once the best and the oldest, of whom this senate is composed. But you do not seem as yet to have appointed any to watch over you yourselves, to insure your remaining within proper bounds. 6 Now as for you, I have no fear so far that you will permit your minds to be corrupted by the magnitude and number of your blessings, since you have only recently delivered the commonwealth from a long tyranny and because of the long and continuous wars have not yet had leisure to grow insolent and wanton. But with regard to p311 your successors, when I consider how great changes the long course of time brings with it, I am afraid that the men of power in the senate may introduce some change and, unnoticed, transform the government into a tyrannical monarchy.
56 1 "If, then, you admit the populace also to a share in the government, no evil will arise for you here. But the man who aims at greater power than the rest of his fellow-citizens and has formed a faction in the senate of all who are willing to share his disaffection and his crimes (for when we are deliberating concerning the commonwealth we ought to foresee every likely contingency), this great and august person, I say, when called upon by the tribunes to appear before the popular assembly, before the lowly and humble people, will have to give an accounting of both his actions and his purpose, and if found guilty, suffer the punishment he deserves. 2 And lest the people themselves, when vested with so great a power, should grow wanton and, seduced by the demagoguery of the worst men, make war upon the best citizens (for it is in the masses as a rule that tyranny springs up), some person of exceptional sagacity, created dictator by you, will guard against this evil and will not allow them to do anything lawless; for, being invested with absolute and irresponsible power, he will cut off the diseased part of the commonwealth and will not permit that which is as yet uninfected to be contaminated; he will reform in the best manner possible the habits, usages and aims of the citizens, and appoint such magistrates as he thinks will govern the state with the greatest prudence; and having effected these things within the space of six months, p313 he will again become a private citizen, receiving no other reward for these actions than the honour. 3 Do you, then, bearing these things in mind, and believing that this is the most perfect form of government, debar the populace from nothing, but, even as you have granted them the right of choosing the magistrates who are to preside each year over the commonwealth, as well as confirming or invalidating laws, of declaring war and making peace — which are the greatest and the most important matters that come up for action in the commonwealth — and have not invested the senate with authority over any one of these matters, in like manner give them also a share in the courts, and particularly in the trials of those who are accused of crimes against the state by raising a sedition or aiming at tyranny or discussing a betrayal of the state with the enemy or attempt us some other mischief of like nature. 4 For the more formidable you make it for the overbearing and self-seeking to transgress the laws and to alter your customs, by appointing many eyes to watch and many men to keep guard over them, the better will be the condition of your commonwealth."
57 1 After he had said this and other things to the same purport, he ended. And the rest of the senators who rose up after him, except a few, concurred in his opinion. When the preliminary decree of the senate was to be drawn up, Marcius, asking leave to speak, said: "You all know, senators, how I have acted with regard to the commonwealth, and that it is because of my goodwill toward you that I have come into this danger, and furthermore that your behaviour toward me has been contrary to my p315 expectation; and you will know this even better when the action against me has ended. 2 However, since the opinion of Valerius prevails, may these measures prove of advantage to you and may I prove a poor judge of future events. But in order not only that you who are to draw up the decree may know upon what terms you are going to deliver me up to the people, but that I also may not fail to know on what charge I am to defend myself, pray order the tribunes to declare in your presence what the crime is of which they intend to accuse me and what title they propose to give to the cause."
58 1 He said this in the belief that he was to be tried for the words he had spoken in the senate, and also from a desire that the tribunes should acknowledge that they intended to accuse him on this charge. But the tribunes, after consulting together, charged him with aiming at tyranny and ordered him to come prepared to make his defence against that charge. For they were unwilling to confine their accusation to a single point, and that neither a strong one in itself nor acceptable to the senate, but were scheming to obtain for themselves the authority to bring any charges they wished against Marcius, and were expecting to deprive him of the assistance of the senators. Thereupon Marcius said: "Very well, if this is the charge on which I am to be tried, I submit myself to the judgment of the plebeians; and let there be nothing to prevent the drawing up of the preliminary decree." 2 The greater part of the senators too were well pleased that he was to be tried upon this charge, for two reasons — first, that to speak one's mind freely in the p317 senate was not going to render one liable to an accounting, and second, that Marcius, who had led a modest and irreproachable life, would easily clear himself of that accusation. 3 After this the preliminary decree for the trial was drawn up and Marcius was given time till the third market-day26 to prepare his defence. The Romans had markets then, as now, every eighth27 day, upon which days the plebeians resorted to the city from the country and exchanged their produce for the goods they bought, settled their grievances in court, and ratified by their votes such matters of public business as either the laws assigned or the senate referred to them for decision; and as the greater part of them were small farmers28 and poor, they passed in the country the seven days intervening between the markets. 4 As soon, therefore, as the tribunes received the preliminary decree they went to the Forum, and calling the people together, gave great praise to the senate, and then, after reading the decree, appointed a day for holding the trial, at which they asked all the citizens to be present, as matters of the greatest moment were to be decided by them.
59 1 When news of this was spread abroad, there was great enthusiasm and marshalling of both the plebeian and the patricians, the former feeling that they were about to avenge themselves p319 upon the most arrogant of all men, and the latter striving earnestly to save the champion of the aristocracy from falling into the hands of his enemies; and to both parties it seemed that their whole claim to life and liberty was at stake in this trial. When the third market-day arrived, such a crowd of people from the country as had never before been known had come together in the city and held possession of the Forum from the very break of day. The tribunes then summoned the populace to the tribal assembly, first having roped off portions of the Forum in which the tribes were to take their places separately. 2 And this was the first time the Romans ever met in their trial assembly to give their votes against a man, the patricians very violently opposing it and demanding that the centuriate assembly should be convened, as was their time-honoured custom. For in earlier times, whenever the people were to give their votes upon any point referred to them by the senate, the consuls had summoned the centuriate assembly, after first offering up the sacrifices required by law, some of which are still performed down to our time. 3 The populace was wont to assemble in the field of Mars before the city, drawn up under their centurions and their standards as in war. They did not give their votes all at the same time, but each by their respective centuries, when these were called upon by the consuls. And there being in all one hundred and ninety-three centuries, and these distributed into six p321 classes, that class was first called and gave its vote which consisted of those citizens who had the highest property rating and who stood in the foremost rank in battle; in this were comprised eighteen centuries of horse and eighty of foot.29 4 The class that voted in the second place was composed of those of smaller fortunes who occupied an inferior position in battle and had not the same armour as the front-line fighters, but less; this multitude formed twenty centuries, and to them were added two centuries of carpenters, armourers and other artificers employed in making engines of war. Those who were called to vote in the third class made up twenty centuries; they had a lower rating than those of the second class and were posted behind them, and the arms they carried were not equal to those of the men in front of them. 5 Those next called had a still lower property rating and had a safer post in battle and their armour was lighter; these also were divided into twenty centuries, and arrayed with them were two centuries of horn-blowers and trumpeters. The class which was called in the fifth place consisted of those whose property was rated very low, and their arms were javelins and slings; these had no fixed place in the battle-line, but being light-armed men and mobile, they attended the heavy-armed men and were distributed into thirty centuries. 6 The poorest of the citizens, who were not less numerous than all the rest, p323 voted last and made but one century; they were exempt from the military levies and from the war-taxes paid by the rest of the citizens in proportion to their ratings, and for both these reasons were given the least honour in voting. 7 If, therefore, in the case of the first centuries, which consisted of the horse and of such of the foot as stood in the foremost rank in battle, ninety-seven centuries were of the same opinion, the voting was at an end and the remaining ninety-six centuries were not called upon to give their votes. But if this was not the case, the second class, composed of twenty-two centuries, was called, and then the third and so on till ninety-seven centuries were of the same opinion. Generally the points in dispute were determined by the classes first summoned, so that it was then needless to take those of the later classes. 8 It seldom happened that a matter was so doubtful that the voting went on till the last class was reached, consisting of the poorest citizens; and it was in the nature of a miracle when, in consequence of the first hundred and ninety-two centuries being equally divided, the addition of this last vote to the rest turned the scale one way or the other. 9 The supporters of Marcius, accordingly, demanded that this assembly based on the census should be called, expecting that he might perhaps be acquitted by the first class with its ninety-eight centuries, or, if not, at least by the second or third class. On the other hand, the tribunes, who also suspected this outcome, thought they ought to call the tribal assembly p325 and to empower it to decide this cause, to the end that neither the poor might be at a disadvantage as compared with the rich nor the light-armed men have a less honourable station than the heavy-armed, nor the mass of plebeians, by being relegated to the last calls, be excluded from equal rights with the others, but that all the citizens might be equal to one another in their votes and equal in honour, and at one call might give their votes by tribes. 10 The claim of the tribunes seemed to be more just than that of the patricians in that they thought the tribunal of the people ought to be a popular, not an oligarchic, tribunal, and that the cognizance of crimes committed against the commonwealth ought to be common to all.
60 1 The tribunes having with difficulty gained this point also from the patricians, when it was time for the trial to be held, Minucius, one of the consuls, rose first and spoke as the senate had directed him. First he reminded the populace of all the benefits they had received from the patricians; and next he asked that in return for so many good offices they should grant at their request one necessary favour in the interest of the public welfare. 2 In addition to this, he praised harmony and peace, told of the great good fortune which each of them brings to states, and inveighed against discord and civil wars, by which, he told them, many cities had been destroyed with all their inhabitants and whole nations had perished utterly. He exhorted them not to indulge their resentment so far as to prefer worse counsels to better, but with sober reason to contemplate future events, nor, again, p327 to take the worst of their fellow-citizens for their advisers when deliberating concerning matters of the greatest importance, but rather those they esteemed the best, men from whom they knew their country had received many benefits in both peace and war and whom you would not have any reason to distrust, as if they had changed their natures. 3 But the sum and substance of his whole discourse was to persuade them to pass no vote against Marcius, but preferably to acquit him for his own sake, remembering what sort of man he had proved himself toward the commonwealth and how many battles he had won in fighting for both its liberty and its supremacy, and that they would be acting in neither a pious nor a just manner nor in a way worthy of themselves, if they held a grudge against him for his objectionable words, while feeling no gratitude for his splendid deeds. 4 The present occasion, too, he told them, was a splendid one for acquitting him, when he had come in person to surrender himself to his adversaries and was ready to acquiesce in whatever they should decide concerning him. If, however, they were unable to become reconciled to him, but were harsh and inexorable, he asked them to bear in mind that the senate, consisting of three hundred men who were the best in the city, was present to intercede for him, and begged them to feel some compassion and to soften their hearts, and not for the sake of punishing one enemy to reject the intercession of so many friends, but rather as a favour to many good men to disregard the prosecution of one man.30 5 Having said p329 this and other things to the same purport, he ended his speech with this suggestion, that if they acquitted the man by taking a vote, they would seem to have freed him because he had not done the people any wrong, whereas, if they prevented the trial from being completed, they would appear to have done so as a favour to those who interceded in his behalf.
61 1 When Minucius had done speaking, Sicinius the tribune came forward and said that he would neither betray the liberty of the plebeians himself nor willingly permit others to betray it, but if the patricians really consented that the man should be tried by the plebeians, he would take their votes and do nothing more. 2 After this Minucius came forward and said: "Since you are eager, tribunes, that a vote shall be taken by all means concerning this man, let not your accusations go beyond the formal charge, but, as you have alleged that he aims at tyranny, show this and bring your evidence to prove it. But neither mention nor charge him with the words you accuse him of having spoken in the senate against the people. For the senate has voted to acquit him of this accusation and has thought proper that he should appear before the people upon specific charges." And he thereupon read out the preliminary decree. 3 Having said this and adjured them to adhere to it, he descended from the tribunal. Sicinius was the first of the tribunes to set forth the charge, which he did in a very studied and elaborate speech, attributing everything the man had continued to say or do against the people to a design to set up tyranny. Then, after him, the most influential of the tribunes spoke.
62 1 When Marcius was given an opportunity to p331 speak,31 he began from his earliest youth and enumerated all the campaigns he had made in the service of the commonwealth, the crowns he had received from the generals as rewards of victory, the foes he had taken captive and the citizens he had saved in battle; and in each instance that he mentioned he displayed his rewards, cited the generals as witnesses, and called by name upon the citizens whom he had saved. 2 These came forward with lamentations and entreated their fellow-citizens not to destroy as an enemy the man to whom they owed their preservation, begging one life in return for many and offering themselves in his stead to be treated by them as they thought fit. The greater part of them were plebeians and men extremely useful to the commonwealth; and their countenances and their entreaties roused such a sense of shame in the people that they were moved to pity and tears. 3 Then Marcius, rending his garments, showed his breast full of wounds and every other part of his body covered with scars, and asked them if they thought that to save one's fellow-citizens in war and to destroy in time of peace those thus saved were actions of the same kind of person, and if anyone who is endeavouring to set up a tyranny ever expels from the state the common people, by whom tyranny is chiefly abetted and nourished. While he was yet speaking, those of the plebeians who were fair-minded and lovers of the right cried out to acquit him, and were ashamed that a man who had so often scorned his own life to preserve them all was even being brought to trial in the first place upon such a p333 charge. 4 Those, however, who were by nature malevolent, enemies of the right, and easy to be led into any kind of sedition were sorry they were going to have to acquit him, but felt that they could not do otherwise, since they could find no evidence of his having aimed at tyranny, which was the point upon which they had been called to give their votes.
63 1 when this had been observed by Decius, the one who had spoken in the senate and prevailed on them to pass the decree for the trial, he rose up, and having commanded silence, said: "Since, plebeians, the patricians acquit Marcius of the words he spoke in the senate and of the violent and overbearing deeds that followed because of them, and do not permit us, either, to accuse him, hear what other deed, quite apart from words, this honourable man has been guilty of toward you, how insolent and tyrannical a deed, and learn what law of yours he, though a private citizen, has broken. 2 You all know, of course, that the law ordains that all the spoils we are able to take from the enemy by our valour shall belong to the public and that not only no private citizen has the disposition of them, but not even the general of our forces himself; but the quaestor, taking them over, sells them and turns the proceeds over to the public treasury. And this law, during all the time our city has been inhabited, not only has been violated by no one, but has not even been criticized as being a bad law. But Marcius here is there is and only man who, in contempt of this law while it stood p335 and was valid, has thought fit, plebeians, to appropriate to himself the spoils which belong to us in common; and this was only last year, not long ago. 3 For when you made an incursion into the territory of the Antiates and captured many prisoners, many cattle, and a great quantity of corn, together with many other effects, he neither reported these to the quaestor nor sold them himself and turned the proceeds over to the public treasury, but distributed and gave as a present to his own friends the entire booty. This action, now, I aver to be a proof of his aiming at tyranny. What else could it be, when he used the public funds to gratify his flatterers, his bodyguards, and the accomplices in the tyranny he meditated? And this I maintain to be an open violation of the law. 4 Let Marcius, then, come forward and show one of two things — either that he did not distribute among his friends the spoils he took from the enemy's country, or that in doing so he is not violating the laws. But neither of these things will he be able to say to you. For you yourselves are acquainted with both matters — with the law and with what he did. And if you acquit him, your decision cannot possibly be regarded as in accordance with justice and your oaths. Say naught, then, about your crowns, your rewards of valour, your wounds, and all the rest of that claptrap, and answer to these points, Marcius: for now I yield the floor to you."
64 1 This accusation caused a great shift in sentiment to the other side. For those who were more reasonable and were zealously working for the acquittal of Marcius, upon hearing these things, grew less confident, and all the malevolent, who constituted the larger part of the Potomac and were p337 of course eager to destroy him at all costs, were still more encouraged in their purpose now that they had got hold of an important and clear ground for their attack. 2 For the distribution of the spoils was a fact, though it had been made without any evil intent and not for the setting up of a tyranny, as Decius charged, but from only the best of motives and for the correction of the evils that beset the commonwealth. For as the sedition still continued at that time and the populace was then divided from the patricians, their enemies, despising them, made raids into their country and plundered it without intermission; and whenever the senate decided to send out an army to stop these raids, none of the plebeians would serve in it, but rejoiced at what was happening and permitted it to continue; and the force of the patricians alone was inadequate. 3 Marcius, observing this, promised the consuls that he would march against the enemy with an army of volunteers if they would give him the command of it, and would soon take revenge on them; and having received authority to do so, he called together his clients and friends and such of the citizens as wished to share in the advantages expected from the general's good fortune in war and his valour. When he thought an adequate force had assembled, he led them against the enemy, who had no previous knowledge of his purpose. 4 And making an incursion into their country, which was well stocked with many good things, and capturing a vast amount of booty, he permitted his soldiers to divide up all the spoils among themselves, to the end that both those who had assisted him in this expedition, by receiving the fruit of their labours, might cheerfully engage in p339 the service upon other occasions, and the others who had declined it, considering all the benefits they had lost through their sedition, when they might have shared in them, might act with greater prudence in the case of future expeditions. 5 Such was the intention of Marcius in this affair; but to the festering anger and envy of enemies the action, when considered by itself, appeared a kind of flattery of the people and a bribery tending toward tyranny. As a result the whole Forum was full of clamour and tumult and neither Marcius himself nor the consul nor anyone else had any answer to make to the charge, so incredible and unexpected did it appear to them. 6 When nothing further was said in his defence, the tribunes called upon the tribes to cast their votes, and fixed perpetual banishment as the penalty in the case. This, I suspect, was due to their fear that he could not be convicted if death were set as the penalty. After they had all voted and the votes were counted, the difference was found to be slight. For out of the twenty-one tribes that were then in existence and gave their votes Marcius had nine in favour of his acquittal; so that if two more tribes had joined his side, he would have been acquitted as the result of the equal division of the votes, as the law prescribed.32
p341 65 This was the first summoning of a patrician before the tribunal of the plebeians; and from this time it became customary for those who afterwards assumed the patronship of the people to summon to stand trial before the people any of the citizens they thought fit. From this beginning the people rose to great power, while the aristocracy lost much of its ancient dignity by admitting the plebeians into the senate and allowing them to stand as candidates for magistracies, by not opposing their presiding over sacrifices, and by sharing with all the citizens the other privileges that were most highly prized and had been the special prerogatives of the patricians, some of which concessions they made because of necessity and against their will, and others through foresight and wisdom; but of these matters I shall speak at the proper time. 2 However, this custom of summoning the men of power at Rome to a trial where the populace were always in control, would afford rich material for comment to those who are disposed either to commend or to blame it. For many good and worthy men have already been treated in a manner unworthy of their merits and have been put to a shameful and miserable death at the instigation of the tribunes, while many men of arrogant and tyrannical dispositions, being compelled to give an p343 accounting of their lives and conduct, have suffered the punishment they deserved. 3 Whenever these verdicts were rendered with the best motives and the pride of the mighty was justly humbled, this institution appeared a great and admirable thing, and met with general praise, but when a virtuous and able statesman incurred hatred and was unjustly done away with, the rest of the world was shocked at the institution and the authors of it were condemned. The Romans have often deliberated whether they should repeal this institution or preserve it as they received it from their ancestors, but have never come to any final decision. 4 If I am to express an opinion myself concerning matters of so great moment, I believe that the institution, considered by itself, is advantageous, and absolutely necessary to the Roman commonwealth, but that it becomes better or worse according to the character of the tribunes. For when this power falls into the hands of just and prudent men, who prefer the interest of the public to their own, the punishing as he deserves of one who has injured his country strikes terror into the minds of all who are prepared to commit similar offences, while the good man who enters public life with the best intentions neither incurs the disgrace of being brought to trial nor is accused of wrongdoing inconsistent with his habits. 5 But when wicked, intemperate and avaricious men gain so great power, the contrary of all this happens. Hence, instead of reforming the institution as faulty, they ought to consider by what means good and worthy men may become protectors of the people, and p345 positions of the greatest importance may not be conferred at random on the first who chance to turn up.
66 1 Such were the causes and such was the outcome of the first sedition that arose among the Romans after the expulsion of the kings. I have related these at length, to the end that no one may wonder how the patricians ever consented to entrust the populace with so great power, when there had been no slaying or banishing of the best citizens, as has happened in many other states. For everyone, upon hearing of extraordinary events, desires to know the cause that produced them and considers that alone as the test of their credibility. 2 I reflected, accordingly, that my account of this affair would gain little or no credit if I contented myself with saying that the patricians resigned their power to the plebeians and that, though they might have continued to live under an aristocracy, they put the populace in control of the most important matters, and if I left out the motives for their making these concessions; and for this reason I have related them all. 3 And since they did not make this change in their government by using compulsion upon one another and the force of arms, but by the persuasion of words, I thought it necessary above all things to report the speeches which the heads of both parties made upon that occasion. I might express my surprise that some historians, though they think themselves obliged to give an exact account of military actions and sometimes expend a great many words over a single battle, describing the terrains, the peculiarities of armament, the ways the lines were drawn up, the exhortations of the generals, and every p347 other circumstance that contributed to the victory of one side or the other, yet when they come to give an account of civil commotions and seditions, do not consider it necessary to report the speeches by which the extraordinary and remarkable events were brought to pass. 4 For if there is anything about the Roman commonwealth that is worthy of great praise and deserving of imitation by all mankind, or, rather, anything that surpasses in its lustre all the many things which deserve our admiration, it is in my opinion this fact — that neither the plebeians in contempt of the patricians took up arms against them, and after murdering many of the best men, seized all their fortunes, nor, on the other hand, the men in positions of dignity either by themselves alone or with the aid of foreign troops destroyed all the plebeians and after that lived in the city free from fear, 5 but conferring together about what was fair and just, like brothers with brothers or children with their parents in a well-governed family, they settled their controversies by persuasion and reason and never allowed themselves to commit any irreparable or wicked deeds against one another, such as the Corcyraeans committed at the time of their sedition, and also the Argives, the Milesians, and all Sicily, as well as many other states.33 For these reasons, therefore, I have chosen to make my narration accurate rather than brief; but let everyone judge of the matter as he thinks fit.
p349 67 On the occasion in question, then, when the trial had resulted as I have related, the populace when dismissed had acquired a spirit of frantic jubilation and thought they had destroyed the aristocracy, whereas the patricians were cast down and dejected, and blamed Valerius, by whose persuasion they had been induced to entrust the trial to the populace; and there were lamentations and tears on the part of those who pitied Marcius and escorted him to his home. 2 But Marcius himself was not seen either to bewail or to lament his own fate or to say or do the least thing unworthy of his greatness of soul; and he showed still greater nobility and resolution when he reached home and saw his wife and mother rending their robes, beating their breasts, and uttering the lamentations natural in such calamities to women who are being separated from their dearest relations by death or banishment. 3 For he was not moved at all by the tears and lamentations of the women, but merely saluted them and exhorted them to bear their misfortunes with firmness; then, recommending his sons to them (the elder son was ten years old and the younger still a child in arms) and without showing any other mark of tenderness or making provision for what would be needed in his banishment, he departed in haste to the gates of the city, informing no one to what place he proposed to retire.
19 The Tarpeian Rock.
20 This verbal play sounds like an echo of Aeschylus, Prom. 905: ἄπορα πόριμος ("making possible the impossible").
21 For Dionysius' use of the term προβούλευμα and his story respecting the patrum auctoritas see Vol. I, Introd., pp. XXV ff., especially XXVII f.
22 Some words are missing from the text here.
23 The words "or do" are probably an interpolation. It was what Marcius said in the senate, not what he did there, that aroused the plebeians' anger (chaps. 21‑26).
24 By our modern reckoning this was only the second year after the secession.
25 See the critical note.
The critical note to the Greek text reads:
One or more words have apparently been omitted here by the MSS. Reiske supplied ἐνυβρίζων. Kiessling proposed to read ἡμῖν ἔτι μᾶλλον ἐνέκειτο καὶ ἱερὰν, Kayser ἡμῖν ἀπαντῶν ἱερὰν.
26 A period long enough to include three market-days (trinum nundinum or trinundinum) had to elapse between the official announcement of any business to be brought before the comitia and the putting of the matter owing to the vote. It is uncertain, in view of the ancient practice of reckoning intervals inclusively, whether this period was two Roman weeks or three.
27 Literally "ninth," by inclusive reckoning.
28 Literally αὐτουργός means "doing one's own work"; but the term was applied particularly to farmers who tilled their own fields.
32 No satisfactory solution has been offered yet for this troublesome sentence. The numbers proposed in place of 21 (22 by Spelman, 20 by Mommsen, Die röm. Tribus, p9) (p339) are both open to serious objections; and the suggestion of Gelzer, cited with approval by Edw. Meyer (Kleine Schriften1, I.363, n2), that διὰ τὴν ἰσοψηφίαν means "because the votes were of equal weight" introduces difficulties as serious as the one it eliminates. Mommsen later (Röm. Staatsrecht, III.166, n3) recognized 21 as the actual number of tribes at this period and held Dionysius responsible for the absurd blunder. Plutarch, writing about a century after Dionysius, evidently found 21 in his text of our author, as it is the only number that will reconcile the figures given by the two writers. In his Coriolanus, a work based largely if not entirely upon Dionysius, he says (20.4), "the tribes convicting him were three," giving no other figures. He was obviously reporting the vote in terms of a majority, whereas Dionysius here, as in one other passage (V.6.2), preferred to point out how few votes would have had to shift sides in order to have reversed the result. Thus, in our passage a shift of two tribes to the defence would have made the vote stand 11 to 10 for acquittal; in the earlier instance the shift of a single curia would have reduced a 16‑to‑14 vote in favour of the proposed measure to a tie and thus caused its defeat. As for the reference, in the present passage, to a tie vote and the law pertaining thereto, there is always the possibility that it is an interpolation, made by a scribe with a greater flair for the dramatic than for mathematics.
33 The factional strife at Corcyra to which Dionysius refers was that of the years 427‑25, so graphically described by Thucydides (III.70‑85, IV.46 f.). At Argos the democrats took dire vengeance upon the oligarchs in 370, slaying as many as 1200 or 1500 (Diodorus, XV.58). The early struggles between the wealthy and the poor at Miletus, in the days when that city was at the height of its power, were characterized by revolting excesses, some of which were related by Athenaeus (XII p524); and Herodotus (V.28) speaks of a civil war there that continued for two generations. In the case of the Sicilian cities it is not easy to point so confidently to the specific events that Dionysius had in mind.
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