The fathers having repaired, as far as human counsels could effect it, the other losses from a continued series of unfortunate events, at length turned their
attention on themselves, on the emptiness of the senate-house, and the paucity of those who assembled for public deliberation.
For the senate-roll had not been reviewed since the censorship of Lucius Aemilius and C. Flaminius, though unfortunate battles, during a period of five years, as well as the private casualties of each, had carried off so many senators.
Manius Pomponius, the praetor, as the dictator was now gone to the army after the loss of Casilinum, at the earnest request of all, brought in a bill upon the subject. When Spurius Carvilius, after having lamented in a long speech not only the scantiness of the senate, but the fewness of citizens who were eligible into that [p. 862]
body, with the design of making up the numbers of the senate
and uniting more closely the Romans and the Latin confederacy, declared that he strongly advised that the freedom of the state should be conferred upon two senators from each of the Latin states, if the Roman fathers thought proper, who might be chosen into the senate to supply the places of the deceased senators. This proposition the fathers listened to with no more equanimity than formerly to the request when made by the Latins themselves.
A loud and violent expression of disapprobation ran through the whole senate-house.
In particular, Manlius reminded them that there was still existing a man of that stock, from which that consul was descended who formerly threatened in the Capitol that he would with his own hand put to death any Latin senator he saw in that house.
Upon which Quintus Fabius Maximus said, “that never was any subject introduced into the senate at a juncture more unseasonable than the present, when a question had been touched upon which would still further irritate the minds of the allies, who were already hesitating and wavering in their allegiance.
That that rash suggestion of one individual ought to be annihilated by the silence of the whole body; and that if there ever was a declaration in that house which ought to be buried in profound and inviolable silence, surely that above all others was one which deserved to be covered and consigned to darkness and oblivion, and looked upon as if it had never been made.” This put a stop to the mention of the subject.
They determined that a dictator should be created for the purpose of reviewing the senate, and that he should be one who had been a censor, and was the oldest living of those who had held that office.
They likewise gave orders that Caius Terentius, the consul, should be called home to nominate a dictator; who, leaving his troops in Apulia, returned to Rome with great expedition; and, according to custom, on the following night nominated Marcus Fabius Buteo dictator, for six months, without a master of the horse, in pursuance of the decree of the senate.