« IndietroContinua »
their lands lay long untilled by reason of the continuance of the war, and the inroads of the enemy, were driven into the city through want and fear. These found an easy means of profit, in working on the deluded minds of the multitude, which practice they carried on as if it were a lawful occupation. At first, every well-judging person expressed indignation at such proceedings; afterwards, the matter came to be noticed by the senators, and attracted public censure from the government. The ædiles, and the judges of criminal causes, were sharply rebuked by the senate, for not having prevented these practices, although, when they had attempted to disperse from the Forum the crowd assembled on such an occasion, and to remove the implements of their rites, they were in imminent danger of personal injury. The evil now appearing too powerful to be checked by the efforts of the inferior magistrates, the senate gave a charge to Marcus Atilius, prætor of the city, to free the public from those superstitious nuisances. For this purpose, he read their decree in a general assembly; and, at the same time, gave notice, that “whosoever had any books of divination, and forms of prayer used on such occasions, or the art of sacrificing in writing, should bring all such books and writings to him before the calends of April, and that no person should in any place, either public or consecrated, perform sacrifice in any new or foreign mode.”
II. Several of the priests established by law died this year, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, chief pontiff, Caius Papirius Maso, son of Caius, a pontiff, Publius Furius Philus, an augur, and Caius Papirius Maso, son of Furius, a decemvir for the direction of religious rites. In the room of Lentulus was substituted, in the college of pontiffs, Marcus Cornelius Cethegus; in that of Papirius, Cneius Servilius Cæpio: Lucius Quintius Flaminius was created augur, and Lucius Cor
These ere three. They were elected by the people to judge in criminal causes, superintend the prisons, and the execution of the condemned.
nelius Lentulus decemvir for the direction of religious rites. The time of the consular election now drew nigh; but, as it was not judged expedient to call away the consuls from the war, which they were prosecuting with vigour, Tiberius Sempronius, consul, nominated Caius Claudius Centho dictator, to hold the elections, and he appointed Quintus Fulvius Flaccus his master of the horse. The dictator, on the first day whereon the assembly could meet, elected consuls Quintus Fulvius Flaccus the master of the horse, and Appius Claudius Pulcher, who had held the government of Sicily, as prætor. Then were elected prætors, Cneius Fulvius Flaccus, Caius Claudius Nero, Marcus Junius Silanus, Publius Cornelius Sulla. As soon as the elections were finished, the dictator resigned his office. This year, with Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, Publius Cornelius Scipio, afterwards surnamed Africanus was curule ædile. The plebeian tribunes opposed the pretensions of the latter to the ædileship, and insisted that he ought not to be admitted as a candidate, because he was not of the age required by law*, on which he answered, “ If it is the will of all the citizens to make me ædile, I am old enough: on this, the people hastened into their respective tribes, to give their votes in his favour, and with such a degree of zeal, that the tribunes at once relinquished their design. The compliments paid to the public by those ædiles were these: the Roman games were exhibited with magnificence, considering the circumstances of the times, and repeated during one day; with a donation of a gallon of oil to each street. The plebeian ædiles, Lucius Villius Tappulus, and
No person could obtain a curule office until he had served ten cam. paigns; and, as the military age commenced at seventeen, a man must be at least twenty-seven before he was qualified to sue for the quæstorship. It seems that by this law the requisite ages were settled thus:
For the quæstorship
Marcus Fundanius Fundulus, brought before the people a charge of incontinency against a considerable number of matrons, and several who were convicted were driven into exile. The plebeian games were repeated during two days; and, on occasion of these games, a banquet in honour of Jupiter was celebrated.
III. Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, a third time, and Appius Claudius, entered upon the administration of the
Y.R, 540. consulship. The provinces were assigned to the præ
B.C. 212. tors by lot; the administration of justice, both to citizens and foreigners, formerly divided between two, now fell to Publius Cornelius Sulla; Apulia was allotted to Cneius Fulvius Flaccus, Suessula to Caius Claudius Nero, and Etruria to Marcus Junius Silanus. It was decreed, that the consuls should conduct the war against Hannibal, and that each should receive two legions, one from Quintus Fabius consul of the former year,
the other from Fulvius Centumalus; that, of the prætors, Fulvius Flaccus should command those legions which were at Luceria, under the prætor Æmilius, and Claudius Nero those which were in Picenum under Caius Terentius, and that they themselves should raise recruits to fill up
the numbers of their respective armies. To Marcus Junius, for the service in Etruria, were given the two city legions of the preceding year. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Publius Sempronius Tuditanus were continued in command of their provinces, Lucania and Gaul, with the same forces as before; as was Publius Lentulus in the old Roman province in Sicily; Marcus Marcellus in Syracuse, and the late dominions of Hiero; Titus Otacilius in the command of the fleet, Marcus Valerius in that of Greece, Quintus Mucius Scævola in that of Sardinia, and the two Cornelii, Publius and Cneius, in that of Spain. In addition to the troops already on foot, two city legions were levied by the consuls, the number of these this year being raised to twenty-three. The behaviour of Marcus Postumius Pyrgensis impeded these levies of the consuls, and went very near exciting a great and general commotion. This man was a farmer of the revenue, and for many years had pot, in the whole empire, any equal in fraud and avarice, excepting Lucius Pomponius Veientanus, who was made prisoner by the Carthaginians under Hanno, while he was inconsiderately ravaging the lands of Lucania. As the public were to undergo any loss of the supplies sent for the use of the armies, which should be occasioned by storm, these two had fabricated accounts of pretended shipwreck; and even such as they reported with a degree of truth, had happened through their own fraudulent contrivance, not through accident. Having put a few goods, of little worth, on board of old shattered vessels, they sunk these in the deep, after taking out the sailors into boats prepared for the purpose, and then made a false return of the cargoes, as of much more considerable value than they really were. A discovery of this fraud had been made the year before to Marcus Atilius the prætor, and by him communicated to the senate; but still no vote of censure had passed on it, because the senators were unwilling to disoblige, at such a time as that, the body of revenue farmers. The assembly of the people, however, proved a more strict avenger of it; and two plebian tribunes, Spurius and Lucius Carvilius, exerting themselves at last, when they saw that such conduct was become generally odious and scandalous, proposed a fine on Marcus Postumius of two hundred thousand asses in weight.* When the day arrived on which the cause was to be argued, such vast numbers of the commons attended the assembly, that the area of the Capitol could scarcely contain them; and when the pleadings were finished, the only hope which the defendant seemed to have, was, that Caius Servilius Casca, a plebian tribune, his near relation and intimate friend, should interpose a protest, before the tribes were called on for their opinions. After
the witnesses had been examined, the tribunes desired the people to withdraw, and the urn was brought, in order that the tribes should draw lots, and then proceed to determine the matter. Meanwhile the revenue farmers urged Casca to stop the proceedings for that day, at which the commons loudly declared their displeasure, and Casca happening to sit foremost at a front corner of the Rostrum, his mind was highly agitated at once by fear and shame. Finding no support in him, the revenue farmers, for the purpose of obstructing the business, rushed, in a compact body, into the space which had been cleared by the withdrawing of some, wrangling at the same time with the remaining people and with the tribunes. The dispute now seemed likely to proceed to violence, when the consul Fulvius said to the tribunes, “Do you not see that your authority is annihilated, and that an insurrection will probably be the consequence, unless you quickly dismiss the assembly of the commons?"
IV. The commons were accordingly dismissed; and the consuls, having assembled the senate, required their judgment concerning the interruption given to the assembly of the people, and the audacious violence of the revenue farmers, representing at the same time, that “ Marcus Furius Camilus, whose banishment was followed by the downfall of the city, had submitted to a sentence of condemnation, passed on him by his angry countrymen. That before him, the decemvirs, whose laws were the public rule of conduct to the present day, and, afterwards, many of the most distinguished personages in the state, had yielded themselves to the public judgment. But Postumius, an obscure individual of Pyrgi, had wrested from the Roman people their right of suffrage; had dissolved an assembly of the commons, annihilated the authority of the tribunes, arrayed a band of men, and seized on a post, with design to cut off all communication between the commons and their tribunes, and to prevent the tribes being called to vote. That nothing had restrained the people from