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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VI Chapter 1: Proceedings in the Senate[389 BC]
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The history of the Romans from the foundation of the City to its capture, first under kings, then under consuls, dictators decemvirs and consular tribunes the record of foreign wars and domestic dissensions, has been set forth in the five preceding books. The subject matter is enveloped in obscurity; partly from its great antiquity, like remote objects which are hardly discernible through the vastness of the distance; partly owing to the fact that written records, which form the only trustworthy memorials of events, were in those times few and scanty, and even what did exist in the pontifical commentaries and public and private archives nearly all perished in the conflagration of the City. Starting from the second beginnings of the city which, like a plant cut down to its roots, sprang up in greater beauty and fruitfulness, the details of its history both civil and military will now be exhibited in their proper order, with greater clearness and certainty. |
It was decided that the consular tribunes, during whose rule the capture of the City had taken place, should not hold the elections for the ensuing year; matters reverted to an interregnum. The citizens were taken up with the pressing and laborious task of rebuilding their City, and it was during this interval that Quintus Fabius, immediately on laying down his office, was indicted by Gnaeus Marcius, a tribune of the plebs, on the ground that after being sent as an envoy to the Gauls to speak on behalf of the Clusians, he had, contrary to the law of nations, fought against them. He was saved from the threatened proceedings by death; a death so opportune that many people believed it to be a voluntary one.
The interregnum began with Publius Cornelius Scipio as the first interrex; he was followed by Marcus Furius Camillus, under whom the election of military tribunes was conducted. Those elected were Lucius Valerius Publicola, for the second time, Lucius Verginius, Publius Cornelius, Aulus Manlius, Lucius Aemilius, and Lucius Postumius.
-- They entered upon their office immediately, and their very first case was to submit to the Senate measures affecting religion. Orders were made that in the first place search should be made for the treaties and laws -- these latter including those of the Twelve Tables and some belonging to the time of the kings -- as far as they were still extant. Some were made accessible to the public, but those which dealt with divine worship were kept secret by the pontiff mainly in order that the people might remain dependent on them for religious guidance. Then they entered upon a discussion of the days of prohibition. The 18th of July was marked by a double disaster, for on that day the Fabii were annihilated at the Cremera, and in after years the battle at the Alia which involved the ruin of the City was lost on the same day. From the latter disaster the day was called "the day of the Alia," and was observed by a religious abstinence from all public and private business. The consular tribune Sulpicius had not offered acceptable sacrifices on July 16 (the day after the Ides), and without having secured the good will of the gods the Roman army was exposed to the enemy two days later. Some think that it was for this reason that on the day after the Ides in each month all religious functions were ordered to be suspended, and hence it became the custom to observe the second and the middle days of the month in the same way.