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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 21: Re-elections.[459 BC]
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The senate was in the Capitol. Thither the tribunes proceeded, accompanied by the plebeians in a great state of consternation. They loudly appealed for help, first to the consuls, then to the senators, but they did not shake the determination of the consul, until the tribunes had promised that they would bow to the authority of the senate. The consuls laid before the senate the demands of the plebs and their tribunes, and decrees were passed that the tribunes should not bring forward their Law during the year, nor should the consuls take the army out of the City. The senate also judged it to be against the interests of the State that a magistrate's tenure of office should be prolonged, or that the tribunes should be reelected. The consuls yielded to the authority of the senate, but the tribunes, against the protests of the consuls, were reelected. On this, the senate also, to avoid giving any advantage to the plebs, reappointed Lucius Quinctius as consul. Nothing during the whole year roused the indignation of the consul more than this proceeding of theirs. "Can I," he exclaimed, "be surprised, Conscript Fathers, if your authority has little weight with the plebs? You yourselves are weakening it. Because, forsooth, they have disregarded the senatorial decree forbidding a magistrate's continuance in office, you yourselves wish it to be disregarded, that you may not be behind the populace in headstrong thoughtlessness, as though to possess more power in the State was to show more levity and lawlessness. It is undoubtedly a more idle and foolish thing to do away with one's own resolutions and decrees than with those of others. Imitate, Conscript Fathers, the inconsiderate multitude; sin after the example of others, you who ought to be an example to others, rather than that others should act rightly after your example, as long as I do not imitate the tribunes or allow myself to be returned as consul in defiance of the resolution of the senate. To you, Gaius Claudius, I earnestly appeal, that you, too, will restrain the Roman people from this lawlessness. As to myself, rest assured that I will accept your action in the firm belief that you have not stood in the way of my advancement to honour, but that I have gathered greater glory by rejecting it, and have removed the odium which my continuance in office would have provoked."|
Thereupon the two consuls issued a joint edict that no one should make Lucius Quinctius consul; if any one attempted it, they would not allow the vote.