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Roman History, by Titus Livius (Livy)

Translated by John Henry Freese, Alfred John Church, and William Jackson Brodribb

With a Critical and Biographical Introduction and Notes by Duffield Osborne


LIVY BOOK I (to 510 B.C.) | LIVY BOOK II (509-468 B.C.) | LIVY BOOK III (468-446 B.C.)

Book III

The Decemvirate - 468-446 B.C. Continued

Continued from Livy Book III Part 3

The Sabines, driven in every direction through the country, left their camp behind them for the enemy to plunder. There the Romans recovered the effects, not of the allies, as at Algidum, but their own property, which had been lost by the devastations of their lands. For this double victory, gained in two battles, in two different places, the senate in a niggardly spirit merely decreed thanksgivings in the name of the consuls for one day only. The people went, however, on the second day also, in great numbers of their own accord to offer thanksgiving; and this unauthorized and popular thanksgiving, owing to their zeal, was even better attended. The consuls by agreement came to the city within the same two days, and summoned the senate to the Campius Martius.1 When they were there relating the services performed by themselves, the chiefs of the patricians complained that the senate was designedly convened among the soldiers for the purpose of intimidation. The consuls, therefore, that there might be no room for such a charge, called away the senate to the Flaminian meadows, where the Temple of Apollo now is (even then it was called the Apollinare). There, when a triumph was refused by a large majority of the patricians, Lucius Icilius, tribune of the commons, brought a proposition before the people regarding the triumph of the consuls, many persons coming forward to argue against the measure, but in particular Gaius Claudius, who exclaimed, that it was over the senate, not over the enemy, that the consuls wished to triumph; and that it was intended as a return for a private service to a tribune, and not as an honour due to valour. That never before had the matter of a triumph been managed through the people; but that the consideration of that honour and the disposal of it, had always rested with the senate; that not even the kings had infringed on the majesty of this most august body. The tribunes should not so occupy every department with their own authority, as to allow the existence of no public council; that the state would be free, and the laws equalized by these means only, if each order retained its own rights and its own dignity. After much had been said by the other senior patricians also to the same purpose, all the tribes approved the proposition. Then for the first time a triumph was celebrated by order of the people, without the authority of the senate. This victory of the tribunes and people was well-nigh terminating in an extravagance by no means salutary, a conspiracy being formed among the tribunes that the same tribunes might be re-elected, and, in order that their own ambition might be the less conspicuous, that the consuls also might have their office prolonged. They pleaded, in excuse, the combination of the patricians by which the privileges of the commons were attempted to be undermined by the affronts of the consuls. What would be the consequence, when the laws were as yet not firmly established, if they attacked the new tribunes through consuls of their own party? Men like Horatius and Valerius would not always be consuls, who would regard their own interests as secondary after the liberty of the people. By some concurrence of circumstances, useful in view of the situation, it fell by lot to Marcus Duillius before all others to preside at the elections, a man of prudence, and who perceived the storm of public odium that was hanging over them from the continuance of their office. And when he declared that he would take no account of any of the former tribunes, and his colleagues struggled to get him to allow the tribes to vote independently, or to give up the office of presiding at the elections, which he held by lot, to his colleagues, who would hold the elections according to law rather than according to the pleasure of the patricians; a contention being now excited, when Duillius had sent for the consuls to his seat and asked them what they contemplated doing with respect to the consular elections, and they answered that they would appoint new consuls; then, having secured popular supporters of a measure by no means popular, he proceeded with them into the assembly. There the consuls were brought forward before the people, and asked what they would do if the Roman people mindful of their liberty recovered at home through them, mindful also of their services in war, should again elect them consuls: and when they in no way changed their opinions, he held the election, after eulogizing the consuls, because they persevered to the last in being unlike the decemvirs; and five tribunes of the people having been elected, when, through the zealous exertions of the nine tribunes who openly pressed their canvass, the other candidates could not make up the required number of tribes, he dismissed the assembly; nor did he hold one afterward for the purpose of an election. He said that the law had been satisfied, which, without any number being anywhere specified, only enacted that tribunes who had been elected should be left to choose their colleagues and confirmed those chosen by them. He then went on to recite the formula of the law, in which it was laid down: "If I shall propose for election ten tribunes of the commons, if from any cause you shall elect this day less than ten tribunes of the people, then that those whom they may have chosen as colleagues for themselves, that these, I say, be legitimate tribunes of the people on the same conditions as those whom you shall on this day have elected tribunes of the people." When Duillius persevered to the last, stating that the republic could not have fifteen tribunes of the people, having baffled the ambition of his colleagues, he resigned office, equally approved of by patricians and commons.

The new tribunes of the people, in electing their colleagues, endeavoured to gratify the wishes of the patricians; they even elected two who were patricians, and men of consular rank, Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Aternius. The consuls elected, Spurius Herminius, Titus Verginius Caelimontanus, not being specially inclined to the cause either of the patricians or commons, had perfect tranquillity both at home and abroad. Lucius Trebonius, tribune of the commons, incensed against the patricians, because, as he said, he had been imposed on by them in the matter of choosing tribunes, and betrayed by his colleagues, brought forward a proposal, that whoever proposed the election of tribunes of the people before the commons, should go on taking the votes, until he elected ten tribunes of the people; and he spent his tribuneship in worrying the patricians, whence the surname of Asper was given him. Next Marcus Geganius Macerinus, and Gaius Julius, being elected consuls, quieted some disputes that had arisen between the tribunes and the youth of the nobility, without displaying any harshness against that power, and at the same time preserving the dignity of the patricians. By proclaiming a levy for the war against the Volscians and Aequans, they kept the people from riots by keeping matters in abeyance, affirming that everything was also quiet abroad, owing to the harmony in the city, and that it was only through civil discord that foreign foes took courage. Their anxiety for peace abroad was also the cause of harmony at home. But notwithstanding, the one order ever attacked the moderation of the other. Acts of injustice began to be committed by the younger patricians on the commons, although the latter kept perfectly quiet. Where the tribunes assisted the more humble, in the first place it accomplished little: and thereafter they did not even themselves escape ill-treatment: particularly in the latter months, when injustice was committed through the combinations among the more powerful, and the power of the office became considerably weaker in the latter part of the year. And now the commons placed some hopes in the tribuneship, if only they could get tribunes like Icilius: for the last two years they declared that they had only had mere names. On the other hand, the elder members of the patrician order, though they considered their young men to be too overbearing, yet preferred, if bounds were to be exceeded, that a superabundance of spirit should be exhibited by their own order rather than by their adversaries. So difficult a thing is moderation in maintaining liberty, while every one, by pretending to desire equality, exalts himself in such a manner as to put down another, and men, by their very precautions against fear, cause themselves to become objects of dread: and we saddle on others injustice repudiated on our own account, as if it were absolutely necessary either to commit injustice or to submit to it.

Titus Ouinctius Capitolinus for the fourth time and Agrippa Furius being then elected .consuls, found neither disturbance at home nor war abroad; both, however, were impending. The discord of the citizens could now no longer be checked, both tribunes and commons being exasperated against the patricians, while, if a day of trial was appointed for any of the nobility, it always embroiled the assemblies in new struggles. On the first report of these the Aequans and Volscians, as if they had received a signal, took up arms; also because their leaders, eager for plunder, had persuaded them that the levy proclaimed two years previously could not be proceeded with, as the commons now refused obedience to military authority: that for that reason no armies had been sent against them; that military discipline was subverted by licentiousness, and that Rome was no longer considered a common country for its citizens; that whatever resentment and animosity they might have entertained against foreigners, was now directed against themselves; that now an opportunity offered itself for destroying wolves blinded by intestine rage. Having united their forces, they first utterly laid waste the Latin territory: when none met them to avenge the wrong, then indeed, to the great exultation of the advisers of the war, they approached the very walls of Rome, carrying their depredations into the district around the Esquiline gate, pointing out to the city in mocking insult the devastation of the land. When they marched back thence to Corbio unmolested, and driving their booty before them, Quinctius the consul summoned the people to an assembly.

There I find that he spoke to this effect: "Though I am conscious to myself of no fault, Quirites, yet it is with the greatest shame I have come forward to your assembly. To think that you should know this, that this should be handed down on record to posterity, that the yEquans and Volscians, a short time since scarcely a match for the Hernicans, have with impunity come with arms in their hands to the walls of Rome, in the fourth consulate of Titus Quinctius! Had I known that this disgrace was reserved for this year, above all others, though we have now long been living in such a manner, and such is the state of affairs, that my mind can forebode nothing good, I would have avoided this honour either by exile or by death, if there had been no other means of escaping it. Then, if men of courage had held those arms, which were at our gates, Rome could have been taken during my consulate. I have had sufficient honours, enough and more than enough of life: I ought to have died in my third consulate. Whom, I pray,, did these most dastardly, enemies despise? us, consuls, or you, Quirites? If the fault lies in us, take away the command from those who are unworthy of it; and, if that is not enough, further inflict punishment on us. If the fault is yours, may there be none of gods or men to punish your offences: do you yourselves only repent of them. It is not your cowardice they have despised, nor their own valour that they have put their trust in: having been so often routed and put to flight, stripped of their camp, mulcted in their land, sent under the yoke, they know both themselves and you. It is the discord among the several orders that is the curse of this city, the contests between the patricians and commons. While we have neither bounds in the pursuit of power, nor you in that of liberty, while you are wearied of patrician, we of plebeian magistrates, they have taken courage. In the name of Heaven, what would you have? You desired tribunes of the commons ; we granted them for the sake of concord. You longed for decemvirs; we suffered them to be created. You became weary of decemvirs; we compelled them to resign office. Your resentment against these same persons when they became private citizens still continuing, we suffered men of the highest family and rank to die or go into exile. You wished a second time to create tribunes of the commons; you created them. You wished to elect consuls attached to your party: and, although we saw that it was unjust to the patricians, we have even resigned ourselves to see a patrician magistracy conceded as an offering to the people. The aid of tribunes, right of appeal to the people, the acts of the commons made binding on the patricians under the pretext of equalizing the laws, the subversion of our privileges, we have endured and still endure. What end is there to be to our dissensions? when shall it be allowed us to have a united city, one common country? We, when defeated, submit with greater resignation than you when victorious. Is it enough for you, that you are objects of terror to us? The Aventine is taken against us: against us the Sacred Mount is seized. When the Esquiline was almost taken by the enemy, no one defended it, and when the Volscian foe was scaling the rampart, no one drove him off: it is against us you behave like men, against us you are armed.

"Come, when you have blockaded the senate-house here, and have made the forum the seat of war, and filled the prison with the leading men of the state, march forth through the Esquiline gate, with that same determined spirit; or, if you do not even venture thus far, behold from your walls your lands laid waste with fire and sword, booty driven off, houses set on fire in every direction and smoking. But, I may be told, it is only the public weal that is in a worse condition through this: the land is burned, the city is besieged, the glory of the war rests with the enemy. What in the name of Heaven what is the state of your own private affairs? even now to each of you his own private losses from the country will be announced. What, pray, is there at home, whence you can recruit them? Will the tribunes restore and re-establish what you have lost? Of sound and words they will heap on you as much as you please, and of charges against the leading men, laws one after another, and public meetings. But from these meetings never has one of you returned home more increased in substance or in fortune. Has any one ever brought back to his wife and children aught save hatred, quarrels, grudges public and private, from which you may ever be protected, not by your own valour and integrity, but by the aid of others? But, by Hercules ! when you served under the command of us consuls, not under tribunes, in the camp and not in the forum, and the enemy trembled at your shout in the field of battle, not the Roman patricians in the assembly, having gained booty and taken land from the enemy, loaded with wealth and glory, both public and private, you used to return home in triumph to your household gods: now you allow the enemy to go off laden with your property. Continue fast bound to your assemblies, live in the forum; the necessity of taking the field, which you strive to escape, still follows you. It was hard on you to march against the Aequans and the Volscians: the war is at your gates: if it is not driven from thence, it will soon be within your walls, and will scale the citadel and Capitol, and follow you into your very houses. Two years ago the senate ordered a levy to be held, and an army to be marched out to Algidum; yet we sit down listless at home, quarrelling with each other like women, delighting in present peace, and not seeing that after that short-lived inactivity war will return with interest. That there are other topics more pleasing than these, I well know; but even though my own mind did not prompt me to it, necessity obliges me to speak the truth rather than what is pleasing. I would indeed like to meet with your approval, Quirites; but I am much more anxious that you should be preserved, whatever sentiments you shall entertain toward me. It has been so ordained by nature, that he who addresses a crowd for his own private interest, is more welcome than the man whose mind has nothing in view but the public interest: unless perhaps you suppose that those public sycophants, those flatterers of the commons, who neither suffer you to take up arms nor to live in peace, excite and work you up for your own interests. When excited, you are to them sources either of position or of profit: and, because, when the orders are in accord, they see that they themselves are of no importance in anything, they prefer to be leaders of a bad cause, of tumults and sedition, rather than of no cause at all. If you can at last become wearied of all this, and if you are willing to resume the habits practised by your forefathers of old, and formerly by yourselves, in place of these new ones, I am ready to submit to any punishment, if I do not in a few days rout and put to flight, and strip of their camp those devastators of our lands, and transfer from our gates and walls to their cities this terror of war, by which you are now thrown into consternation."

Scarcely ever was the speech of a popular tribune more acceptable to the commons than this of a most austere consul on that occasion. The young men also, who, during such alarms, had been accustomed to employ the refusal to enlist as the sharpest weapon against the patricians, began to turn their attention to war and arms: and the flight of the rustics, and those who had been robbed and wounded in the country, by announcing events more revolting even than what was before their eyes, filled the whole city with exasperation. When they came into the senate, there all, turning to Quinctius, looked upon him as the only champion of the majesty of Rome: and the leading senators declared that his harangue was worthy of the consular authority, worthy of so many consulships formerly borne by him, worthy of his whole life, full of honours frequently enjoyed, more frequently deserved. That other consuls had either flattered the commons by betraying the dignity of the patricians, or by harshly maintaining the rights of their order, had rendered the multitude more exasperated by their efforts to subdue them: that Titus Quinctius had delivered a speech mindful of the dignity of the patricians, of the concord of the different orders, and above all, of the needs of the times. They entreated him and his colleague to assume the management of the commonwealth; they entreated the tribunes, by acting in concert with the consuls, to join in driving back the war from the city and the walls, and to induce the commons to be obedient to the senate at so perilous a conjuncture: declaring that, their lands being devastated, and their city in a manner besieged, their common country appealed to them as tribunes, and implored their aid. By universal consent the levy was decreed and held. When the consuls gave public notice that there was no time for considering claims for exemption; that all the young men should attend on the following morning at dawn in the Campus Martius; that when the war was over, they would afford time for inquiring into the excuses of those who had not given in their names; that the man should be held as a deserter, whose excuse they found unsatisfactory; all the youth attended on the following day. The cohorts 1 chose each their centurions: two senators were placed at the head of each cohort. We have read that all these measures were carried out with such expedition that the standards, which had been brought forth from the treasury on that very day by the quaestors and conveyed to the Campus, started from thence at the fourth hour; and the newly-raised army halted at the tenth milestone, followed only by a few cohorts of veteran soldiers as volunteers. The following day brought the enemy within sight, and camp was joined to camp near Corbio. On the third day, when resentment urged on the Romans, and a consciousness of guilt for having so often rebelled and a feeling of despair, the others, there was no delay in coming to an engagement.

In the Roman army, though the two consuls were invested with equal authority, the supreme command was, by the concession of Agrippa, resigned to his colleague, an arrangement most salutary in the conduct of matters of great importance; and he who was preferred made a polite return for the ready condescension of the other, who thus lowered himself, by making him his confidant in all his plans and sharing with him his honours, and by putting him on an equality with him although he was by no means as capable. On the field of battle Quinctius commanded the right, Agrippa the left wing; the command of the centre was intrusted to Spurius Postumius Albus, as lieutenant-general. Publius Sulpicius, the other lieutenant-general, was placed at the head of the cavalry. The infantry on the right wing fought with distinguished valour, while the Volscians offered a stout resistance. Publius Sulpicius with his cavalry broke through the centre of the enemy's line; and, though he might have returned thence in the same way to his own party, before the enemy restored their broken ranks, it seemed more advisable to attack them in the rear, and in a moment, charging the line in the rear, he would have dispersed the enemy by the double attack, had not the cavalry of the Volscians and Aequans kept him for some time engaged by a mode of fighting like his own. Then indeed Sulpicius declared that there was no time for delay, crying out that they were surrounded and would be cut off from their own friends, unless they united all their efforts and despatched the engagement with the cavalry. Nor was it enough to rout the enemy without disabling them; they must slay horses and men, that none might return to the fight or renew the battle; that these could not resist them, before whom a compact body of infantry had given way. His orders were addressed to no deaf ears; by a single charge they routed the entire cavalry, dismounted great numbers, and killed with their javelins both the riders and the horses. Thus ended the cavalry engagement. Then, having attacked the enemy's infantry, they sent an account to the consuls of what had been done, where the enemy's line was already giving way. The news both gave fresh courage to the Romans who were now gaining the day, and dismayed the Aequans who were beginning to give way. They first began to be beaten in the centre, where the furious charge of the cavalry had broken their ranks. Then the left wing began to lose ground before the consul Quinctius; the contest was most obstinate on the right. Then Agrippa, in the vigour of his youth and strength, seeing matters going more favourably in every part of the battle than in his own quarter, snatched some of the standards from the standardbearers and carried them on himself, some even he began to throw into the thick of the enemy. The soldiers, urged on by the fear of this disgrace, attacked the enemy; thus the victory was equalized in every quarter. News then came from Quinctius that he, being now victorious, was about to attack the enemy's camp; that he was unwilling to break into it, before he learned that they were beaten in the left wing also. If he had routed the enemy, let him now join him, that all the army together might take possession of the booty. Agrippa, being victorious, with mutual congratulations advanced toward his victorious colleague and the enemy's camp. There, as there were but few to defend it, and these were routed in a moment, they broke into the fortifications without a struggle, and marched back the army, in possession of abundant spoil, having recovered also their own effects, which had been lost by the devastation of the lands. I have not heard that they either themselves demanded a triumph, or that one was offered to them by the senate; nor is any cause assigned for the honour being either overlooked or not hoped for. As far as I can conjecture at so great a distance of time, since a triumph had been refused to the consuls Horatius and Valerius, who, in addition to the victory over the yEquans and Volscians, had gained the glory of having also finished the Sabine war, the consuls were ashamed to demand a triumph for one half of the services done by them, lest, even if they should have obtained it, regard might appear to have been paid to persons rather than to merit.

A disgraceful decision of the people regarding the boundaries of their allies marred the honourable victory obtained over their enemies. The people of Aricia 1 and of Ardea, who had frequently contended in arms concerning a disputed piece of land, wearied out by many losses on either side, appointed the Roman people as arbitrators. When they arrived to support their claims, an assembly of the people being granted them by the magistrates, the matter was debated with great warmth. The witnesses being now produced, when it was time for the tribes to be called, and for the people to give their votes, Publius Scaptius, a plebeian advanced in years, rose up and said, "Consuls, if it is permitted me to speak on the public interest, I will not suffer the people to be led into a mistake in this matter." When the consuls said that he, as unworthy of attention, ought not to be heard, and, on his shouting that the public interest was being betrayed, ordered him to be put aside, fie appealed to the tribunes. The tribunes, as they are nearly always directed by the multitude rather than direct it, granted Scaptius leave to say what he pleased in deference to the people, who were anxious to hear him. He then began: That he was now in his eighty-third year, and that he had served in that district which was now in dispute, not even then a young man, as he was already serving in his twentieth campaign, when operations were going on at Corioli. He therefore brought forward a fact forgotten by length of time one, however, deeply fixed in his memory: namely, that the district now in dispute had belonged to the territory of Corioli, and, after the taking of Corioli, it had become by right of war the public property of the Roman people. That he was surprised how the states of Ardea and Aricia could have the face to hope to deprive the Roman people, whom instead of lawful owners they had made arbitrators, of a district the right of which they had never claimed while the state of Corioli existed. That he for his part had but a short time to live; he could not, however, bring himself, old as he now was, to desist claiming by his voice, the only means he now had, a district which, as a soldier, he had contributed to acquire, as far as a man could. That he strenuously advised the people not to ruin their own interest by an idle feeling of delicacy. The consuls, when they perceived that Scaptius was listened to not only in silence, but even with approbation, calling gods and men to witness, that a disgraceful enormity was being committed, summoned the principal senators: with them they went round to the tribes, entreated, that, as judges, they would not be guilty of a most heinous crime, with a still worse precedent, by converting the subject of dispute to their own interest, more especially when, even though it may be lawful for a judge to look after his own interest, so much would by no means be acquired by keeping the land, as would be lost by alienating the affections of their allies by injustice; for that the loss of reputation and confidence was of greater importance than could be estimated. Was this the answer the ambassadors were to carry home; was this to go out to the world; were their allies to hear this; were their enemies to hear it with what sorrow the one with what joy the other? Could they suppose that the neighbouring states would ascribe this proceeding to Scaptius, an old babbler at assemblies? that Scaptius would be rendered distinguished by this statue: but that the Roman people would assume the character of a corrupt informer l and appropriator of the claims of others. For what judge in a private cause ever acted in such a way as to adjudge to himself the property in dispute? That even Scaptius himself would not act so, though he had now outlived all sense of shame. Thus the consuls, thus the senators exclaimed; but covetousness, and Scaptius, the adviser of that covetousness, had more influence. The tribes, when convened, decided that the district was the public property of the Roman people. Nor can it be denied that it might have been so, if they had gone to other judges; but, as it is, the infamy of the decision is not in any way diminished by the justice of the cause: nor did it appear more disgraceful or more repulsive to the people of Aricia and of Ardea, than it did to the Roman senate. The remainder of the year continued free from disturbances both at home and abroad.

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