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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 5: Brutus and his sons.[509 BC]
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The question of the restoration of the property was referred anew to the senate, who yielding to their feelings of resentment prohibited its restoration, and forbade its being brought into the treasury; it was given as plunder to the plebs, that their share in this spoliation might destroy for ever any prospect of peaceable relations with the Tarquins. The land of the Tarquins, which lay between the City and the Tiber, was henceforth sacred to Mars and known as the Campus Martius. There happened, it is said, to be a crop of corn there which was ripe for the harvest, and as it would have been sacrilege to consume what was growing on the Campus, a large body of men were sent to cut it. They carried it, straw and all, in baskets to the Tiber, and threw it into the river. It was the height of the summer and the stream was low, consequently the corn stuck in the shallows, and heaps of it were covered with mud; gradually as the debris which the river brought down collected there, an island was formed. I believe that it was subsequently raised and strengthened so that the surface might be high enough above the water, and firm enough to carry temples and colonnades. |
After the royal property had been disposed of, the traitors were sentenced and executed. Their punishment created a great sensation owing to the fact that the consular office imposed upon a father [Note 1] the duty of inflicting punishment on his own children [Note 2]; he who ought not to have witnessed it was destined to be the one to see it duly carried out. Youths belonging to the noblest families were standing tied to the post, but all eyes were turned to the consul's children, the others were unnoticed. Men did not grieve more for their punishment than for the crime which had incurred it -- that they should have conceived the idea, in that year above all, of betraying to one, who had been a ruthless tyrant and was now an exile and an enemy, a newly liberated country, their father, who had liberated it, the consulship which had originated in the Junian house, the senate, the plebs, all that Rome possessed of human or divine.
The consuls took their seats, the lictors were told off to inflict the penalty; they scourged their bared backs with rods and then beheaded them. During the whole time, the father's countenance betrayed his feelings, but the father's stern resolution was still more apparent as he superintended the public execution. After the guilty had paid the penalty, a notable example of a different nature was provided to act as a deterrent of crime, the informer was assigned a sum of money from the treasury and he was given his liberty and the rights of citizenship. He is said to have been the first to be made free by the vindicta." Some suppose this designation to have been derived from him, his name being Vindicius. After him it was the rule that those who were made free in this way were considered to be admitted to the citizenship.