There came to the City with the return of1
peace a relaxation in the corn-market; for not only was grain imported from Campania, but now that each had ceased to fear for his own future want, men brought out the stores which they had concealed.
As a consequence of plenty and idleness a spirit of licence again began to affect men's minds, and they began to seek at home for the old troubles which were no longer to be met with abroad. The tribunes roused the plebs to madness with their usual poison, a land-law. The Fathers resisted, but the tribunes incited the people against them, not as a body merely, but as individuals.
Quintus Considius and Titus Genucius, the proposers of the agrarian measure, cited Titus Menenius to appear for trial.2
He had incurred the dislike of the plebs owing to the loss of the outpost on the Cremera, when he as consul had occupied a permanent camp not far away;
and this unpopularity was his undoing, though the senators exerted themselves in his behalf no less [p. 397]
than they had done for Coriolanus, and though the3
favour enjoyed by his father Agrippa had not yet passed away.
In respect to the penalty the tribunes showed restraint; though they had charged him with a capital offence, they fixed the fine of the condemned at two thousand asses.
But it cost him his life; they say that he could not endure the shame and grief, and from this cause fell ill and died.
Another man was then put upon his trial, namely Spurius Servilius. He had laid down the consulship and been succeeded by Gaius Nautius and Publius Valerius, when he was cited, in the very beginning of the year, by the tribunes Lucius Caedicius and Titus Statius. Unlike Menenius, he did not meet the attacks of the tribunes with entreaties, preferred by himself or the senators, but with high confidence in his innocence and popularity.
He, too, was accused in connection with the battle against the Etruscans at Janiculum. But the fiery courage of the man had not been more in evidence in the nation's hour of peril than it was then in his own, and he confuted not only the tribunes but the plebs, upbraiding them, in a daring speech, with the condemnation and death of Menenius, to whose father, he declared, the plebs formerly owed their restoration and the possession of those very magistrates and laws which were the tools of their cruelty. This boldness swept away the danger.
He was helped, too, by Verginius, his colleague, who, being called as a witness, shared his own credit with Servilius. But the trial of Menenius stood him in even better stead, so great a revulsion of feeling had set in.