Page images
PDF
EPUB

A crime so rare in the Roman annals produced its CHAP.

XVII. natural and just consequence, a reaction against the

Proceedings cause which appeared to be connected with it. Con- in conse

quence of suls were chosen instead of tribunes of the soldiers ; this murder. and the commons, to whom the senate had given the choice of the judge 45 in this cause, commissioned the consuls to inquire into the murder of Postumius, and to punish the guilty. This choice was sanctioned by the curiæ, and the judges thus appointed fulfilled their task with moderation, so that the influence which the patricians had gained by the whole transaction was marked by the undisturbed election of consuls for three years following. But by that time the feeling had changed: the continued opposition of the patricians to any agrarian law seemed a more present evil than the murder of Postumius : and while that crime had been duly punished, the injustice of the patricians was triumphant. It is dangerous to overlook a change in public opinion, and still more to try to force in its old direction the tide which is beginning to turn. The patricians carried the election of consuls for a fourth year, in spite of a strong feeling of discontent; but the A.U.C. 346. commons were so roused, that in spite of all obstruc

A.C. 406.

45 “A plebe, consensu populi, plebeians against the patrician consulibus negotium mandatur.” order; it was then an act of moLivy, IV. 51. A remarkable pas. deration in the senate, to allow sage, which Niebuhr, as may be the offending party to name the supposed, has not forgotten to judge, and the patricians, to whom appeal to, as a proof of the iden- the injury had been done, would tity of the populus in old times at any rate require that the nomiwith the patricians. It would seem nation should be submitted to as if the murder of Postumius was them for their approval. regarded as a crime committed by VOL. I.

B b

XVII.

Contests about the

CHAP. tions caused by the presiding officer, they elected at

the open comitia of quæstors 46 no fewer than three plebeians.

Then the agrarian law was demanded more veheagrarian law mently than ever, and three tribunes, all of the continued.

Icilian family, were conspicuous as the leaders of the commons. The year passed away in these contests, but the commons insisted on having tribunes instead of consuls for the year following; and this was consented to 47, but at the same time rendered nugatory by the condition annexed to it, that none of the tribunes of the commons of that year should be either re-elected to the same office or be chosen tribunes of the soldiers. Thus those candidates being excluded whose claims were greatest, the patricians once more succeeded in defeating the plebeian candidates of less name, and in obtaining every place in the tribune

ship for their own body. A.U.C. 349. Two years afterwards came the issue of the con

A.C. 403. Pay granted test. A truce which had been concluded for twenty diers; num- years 48 with the Veientians was now on the point of

to the sol

46 Livy, IV, 54.

cient notions, at war with Veii, 47 Livy, IV. 55.

to pass away without attacking 48 Livy, IV. 58. Livy says that their enemy, because the Veienin the year 348 the truce had tians were involved in civil dissen. already expired, and as it had sions, and the Romans were too been concluded, according to his generous to take advantage of their own account, in the year 330, weakness. We see from ThucyNiebuhr supposes that it must dides, V. 14, that it was usual have been intended to last only when a truce was nearly expired, for twenty cyclic years, of ten to negotiate as to the terms on months each. But we find that which it might be renewed : and hostilities did not begin till 350, this, I doubt not, is the true exand no one will believe that the planation of the negotiations that Romans allowed two years, in went on during the years 348 and which they were, according to an. 349.

XVII.

expiring; and as war rather than peace was sup- CHAP, posed to be the natural state of things between two

ber of trinations, unless some express treaty was interposed, bunes of the

soldiers inso at the end of the truce hostilities would be creased to resumed of course, unless either party wished to renew it, and was willing to purchase its continuance on the enemy's terms. Rome now felt itself much stronger than Veii, for that town had been lately torn with internal discords, so much more violent and injurious than those of Rome, in proportion as there was less of equal law and of acknowledged rights. The Romans therefore put a higher price on the renewal of the truce than the Veientians would consent to pay; and both nations prepared for war. This was the moment for the commons to press their claims, and they refused to vote for the war unless something was done to satisfy them. The patricians, looking forward to all the glory and dominion promised them by the expected conquest of Veii, or yielding to the power of justice, at last gave way. The vectigal 49, or tithe, due from the occupiers of the public land, was to provide pay for the soldiers ; if this were not sufficient, it was to be made good by a tax or tribute levied upon the whole people, according to the census of every citizen: and six tribunes of the soldiers were henceforth to be elected

six,

49 This is not stated by Livy; bably however paid very irrebut as it had been the great object gularly, and hence the pay of the insisted on by the tribunes, it is soldiers would, in point of fact, natural to suppose that it must be provided chiefly out of the tax either have been granted or at or tributum. any rate promised. It was pro

CHAP. annually; one of whom, as Niebuhr thinks, was XVII.

always to be a patrician, and to perform the important judicial duties afterwards discharged by the prætor urbanus; the other five were to be elected indiscriminately from either order. At any rate, six tribunes were elected from this time forwards, and this increased number gave the commons a greater likelihood of seeing some of the places filled by men of their own body. And so it happened, in fact; but for this the commons had yet to wait five years more.

Accordingly pay 50 was issued to the soldiers, six

tribunes of the soldiers were elected, and in the year A.U.C. 350. 350, about the end of the Peloponnesian war, the A.C. 402.

Romans began their vast career of dominion by laying siege to the great Etruscan city of Veii.

50 Livy, IV. 59, 60, 61.

CHAPTER XVIII.

WARS OF THE ROMANS FROM 300 TO 364—THE ÆQUI

ANS AND VOLSCIANS—THE ETRUSCANS-SIEGE AND
CAPTURE OF VEII.

Τα μεν σπενδόμενοι, τα δε πολεμούντες-εν παρεσκευάσαντο τα πολέμια και εμπειρότεροι εγένοντο, μετά κινδύνων τας μελέτας ποιούμενοι.

THUCYDIDES, I. 18.

? The foreign

uncertain

domestic,

The internal history of Rome in the first century of CHAP,

XVIII. the Commonwealth is obscure and often uncertain; nor can we venture to place full confidence in the history of

Rome is details of events, or of individual characters. The even more family traditions and funeral orations out of which than the the oldest annalists compiled their narratives were often, as we find, at variance with each other, and dealt largely in exaggeration and misrepresentation. Yet still up to a certain point they were a check upon one another; there were necessarily limits to falsehood, when fellow-citizens, whether individuals or parties, were the subject on which it was exercised. But with regard to foreign enemies, even this check was wanting. Every family might claim victories over the Æquians or the Veientians: there was no

« PreviousContinue »