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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 57: The case of Appius Claudius (Cont.)[449 BC]
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Verginius replied. Appius Claudius, he said, alone was outside the laws, outside all the bonds that held states or even human society together. Let men cast their eyes on that tribunal, the fortress of all villainies, where that perpetual decemvir, surrounded by hangmen not lictors, in contempt of gods and men alike, wreaked his vengeance on the goods, the backs, and the lives of the citizens, threatening all indiscriminately with the rods and axes, and then when his mind was diverted from rapine and murder to lust, tore a free-born maiden from her father's arms before the eyes of Rome, and gave her to a client, the minister of his intrigues -- that tribunal where by cruel decree and infamous judgment he armed the father's hand against the daughter, where he ordered those who took up the maiden's lifeless body -- her betrothed lover and her grandfather -- to be thrown into prison, moved less by her death than by the check to his criminal gratification. For him as much as for others was that prison built which he used to call " the domicile of the Roman plebs." Let him appeal again and again, he (the speaker) would always refer him to an umpire on the charge of having sentenced a free person to slavery. If he would not go before an umpire he should order him to be imprisoned as though found guilty. |
He was accordingly thrown into prison, and though no one actually opposed this step, there was a general feeling of anxiety, since even the plebeians themselves thought it an excessive use of their liberty to inflict punishment on so great a man. The tribune adjourned the day of trial.
During these proceedings ambassadors came from the Latins and Hernicans to offer their congratulations on the restoration of harmony between the patriciate and the plebs. As a memorial of it, they brought an offering to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, in the shape of a golden crown. It was not a large one, as they were not wealthy States; their religious observances were characterised by devotion rather than magnificence. They also brought information that the Aequi and Volscians were devoting all their energies to preparing for war. The consuls were thereupon ordered to arrange their respective commands. The Sabines fell to Horatius, the Aequi to Valerius. They proclaimed a levy for these wars, and so favourable was the attitude of the plebs that not only did the men liable for service promptly give in their names, but a large part of the levy consisted of men who had served their time and came forward as volunteers. In this way the army was strengthened not only in numbers but in the quality of the soldiers, as veterans took their places in the ranks.
Before they left the City, the laws of the decemvirs, known as the "Twelve Tables," were engraved in brass and publicly exhibited; some writers assert that the aediles discharged this task under orders from the tribunes.
Event: War with Sabines and Aequi