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Quote of the day: Questioned by Nero as to the motives whi
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXV Chapter 4: Posthumius convicted.[212 BC]
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The commons being dismissed, the senate was assembled, when the consuls proposed the consideration of the interruption experienced by the assembly of the commons, in consequence of the violence and audacity of the farmers of the revenue. They said, that Marcus Furius Camillus, whose banishment was followed by the downfall of the city, had suffered himself to be condemned by his exasperated countrymen. That before him, the decemviri, according to whose laws they lived up to the present day, and afterwards many men of the first rank in the state, had submitted to have sentence passed upon them by the people. But Posthumius Pyrgensis had wrested from the Roman people their right of suffrage, had dissolved the assembly of the commons, had set at nought the authority of the tribunes, had drawn up a body of men in battle-array against the Roman people; and seized upon a post, in order to cut off the tribunes from the commons, and prevent the tribes being called to give their votes. That the only thing which had restrained the people from bloodshed and violence, was the forbearance of the magistrates in giving way for the moment to the fury and audacity of a few individuals, and suffering themselves and the Roman people to be overcome; and that no opportunity might be afforded those who were seeking an occasion of violence, in dissolving, agreeably to the wish of the defendant himself, that assembly which he was about to interrupt by force of arms." Observations of this kind having been urged with a warmth proportioned to the atrocity of the conduct which called them forth, by all the most respectable persons, and the senate having passed a decree to the effect that the violence offered was prejudicial to the state, and a precedent of pernicious tendency, immediately the Carvilii, tribunes of the people, giving up the action for a fine, appointed a day on which Posthumius should be tried capitally, and ordered, that unless he gave bail, he should be apprehended by the beadle, and carried to prison. Posthumius gave bail, but did not appear. The tribunes then proposed to the commons, and the commons resolved, that if Marcus Posthumius did not appear before the Kalends of May, and if on being cited on that day he did not answer, and sufficient cause were not shown why he did not, he would be adjudged an exile, his goods would be sold, and himself interdicted from water and fire. They then proceeded to indict capitally, and demand bail of each of the persons who had been the promoters of the disorder and riot. At first they threw into prison those who did not give bail, and afterwards even such as could; upon which the greater part of them went into exile, to avoid the danger to which this proceeding exposed them.