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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 24: Internal Disturbances -- Peace concluded with the Aequi.[458 BC]
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When this war had been brought to a close, the fears of the patricians were aroused by a war which the tribunes commenced at home. They exclaimed that the army was being detained abroad from dishonest motives; it was intended to frustrate the passing of the Law; all the same they would carry through the task they had begun. Lucius Lucretius, the prefect of the City, succeeded, however, in inducing the tribunes to defer action till the arrival of the consuls. |
A fresh cause of trouble arose. Aulus Cornelius and Quintus Servilius, the quaestors [Note 56] indicted Marcus Volscius on the ground that he had given what was undoubtedly false evidence against Caeso. It had become known from many sources that after the brother of Volscius first became ill, he had not only never been seen in public, but had not even left his bed, and his death was due to an illness of many months' standing. On the date at which the witness fixed the crime, Caeso was not seen in Rome, whilst those who had served with him declared that he had constantly been in his place in the ranks with them and had not had leave of absence. Many people urged Volscius to institute a private suit before a judge. As he did not venture to take this course, and all the above mentioned evidence pointed to one conclusion, his condemnation was no more doubtful than that of Caeso had been on the evidence which he had given. The tribunes managed to delay matters; they said they would not allow the quaestors to bring the accused before the Assembly unless it had first been convened to carry the Law. Both questions were adjourned till the arrival of the consuls. When they made their triumphal entry at the head of their victorious army, nothing was said about the Law; most people therefore supposed that the tribunes were intimidated. But it was now the end of the year and they were aiming at a fourth year of office, so they turned their activity from the Law to canvassing the electors. Though the consuls had opposed the tribunes' continuance in office as strenuously as if the Law had been mooted solely to impair their authority, the victory remained with the tribunes.
In the same year the Aequi sued for and obtained peace. The census, commenced the previous year, was completed, and the lustrum," which was then closed, is stated to have been the tenth since the beginning of the City. The numbers of the census amounted to 117,319. The consuls in that year won a great reputation both at home and in war, for they secured peace abroad, and though there was not harmony at home, the common-wealth was less disturbed than it had been on other occasions.
Quaestor:There were two sets of officers bearing this title, the commissioners of the treasure, and the "trackers of murder" -- as their title may be literally translated -- whose duty was to search for and bring up for prosecution those who had been guilty of capital crimes.
Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.
Lustrum:Lustrum, or expiation. The last act of the censors during their period of office was to offer an expiatory sacrifice for the whole people. On the appointed day the citizens assembled in military formation in the Campus Martius. The victims, a boar, a ram, and a bull -- hence the name of the sacrifice, suovetaurilia" -- were carried thrice round the assembled host, who were then declared "purified," and whilst the animals were being offered on the altar, the censor to whom the lot had fallen of conducting the ceremony recited a traditional form of prayer for the strengthening and extension of the might of the Roman people. As the censor's office was originally fixed for five years, "lustrum" was used to denote that period of time.