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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 8: The Ogulnian Law (Cont.)[300 BC]
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"But why have I [Note 2] so far been assuming that the question of the patricians and the priesthood is still an open one, and that we are not yet in possession of the highest of all offices? We see plebeians amongst the ten keepers of the Sacred Books, acting as interpreters of the Sibyl's runes and the Fates of this people; we see them, too, presiding over the sacrifices and other rites connected with Apollo. No injustice was inflicted on the patricians when an addition was made to the number of the keepers of the Sacred Books on the demand of the plebeians. None has been inflicted now, when a strong and capable tribune has created five more posts for augurs and four more for priests, which are to be filled by plebeians, not, Appius, with the design of ousting you patricians from your places, but in order that the plebs may assist you in the conduct of divine matters as they do to the utmost of their power in the administration of human affairs." |
"Do not blush, Appius, to have as your colleague in the priesthood a man whom you might have had as colleague in the censorship or in the consulship, who might be dictator with you as his Master of Horse, just as much as you might be dictator with him for your Master of the Horse. A Sabine immigrant, Attius Clausus, or if you prefer it, Appius Claudius, the founder of your noble house, was admitted by those old patricians into their number; do not think it beneath you to admit us into the number of the priests. We bring with us many distinctions, all those, in fact, which have made you so proud. Lucius Sextius was the first plebeian to be elected consul, Gaius Licinius Stolo was the first plebeian Master of the Horse, Gaius Marcius Rutilus the first plebeian who was both dictator and censor, Quintus Publilius Philo was the first praetor. We have always heard the same objection raised -- that the auspices were solely in your hands, that you alone enjoy the privileges and prerogatives of noble birth, that you alone can legitimately hold sovereign command and take the auspices either in peace or war. Have you never heard the remark that it was not men sent down from heaven who were originally created patricians, but those who could cite a father [Note 2], which is nothing more than saying that they were free-born. I can now cite a consul as my father, and my son will be able to cite him as his grandfather. It simply comes to this, Quirites, that we can get nothing without a struggle. It is only a quarrel that the patricians are seeking, they do not care in the least about the result. I for my part support this measure, which I believe will be for your good and happiness and a blessing to the State, and I hold that you ought to pass it."
Note 1: I = Decius