While the consuls were thus engaged in different quarters, in the mean time, at Rome, the censors, Marcus Livius and Caius Claudius, called over the senate roll. Quintus Fabius was again chosen chief of the senate; seven were stigmatized, of whom there was not one who had sat in the curule chair.
They inquired into the business relating to the repair of public edifices with diligence and the most scrupulous exactness. They set by contract the making of a road out of the ox market to the temple of Venus, with public seats on each side of it, and a temple to be built in the palatium for the great mother.
They established also a new tax out of the price of salt. Salt, both at Rome, and throughout all Italy, was sold at the sixth part of an as.
They contracted for the supply of it at Rome at the same price, at a higher price in the country towns and markets, and at different prices in different places.
They felt well convinced that this tax was invented by one of the censors, out of resentment to the people, [p. 1281]
because he had formerly been condemned by an unjust sentence, and that in fixing the price of salt, those tribes had been most burdened by whose means he had been condemned.
Hence Livius derived the surname of Salinator. The closing of the lustrum was later than usual, because the censors sent persons through the provinces, that
a report might be made of the number of Roman citizens in each of the armies.
Including these, the number of persons returned in the census was two hundred and fourteen thousand. Caius Claudius Nero closed the lustrum. They then received a census of the twelve colonies, which had never been done before, the censors of the colonies themselves presenting it, in order that there might appear registers among the public records, stating the extent of their resources, both in respect of furnishing soldiers and money.
The review of the knights then began to be made, and it happened that both the censors had a horse at the public expense.
When they came to the Pollian tribe, in which was the name of Marcus Livius, and the herald hesitated to cite the censor himself, Nero said, “Cite Marcus Livius;” and whether it was that he was actuated by the remains of an old enmity, or that he felt a ridiculous pride in this ill-timed display of severity, he ordered Marcus Livius to sell his horse, because he had been condemned by the sentence of the people.
In like manner, when they came to the Narnian tribe, and the name of his colleague, Marcus Livius ordered Caius Claudius to sell his horse, for two reasons; one, because he had given false evidence against him; the other, because he had not been sincere in his reconciliation with him.
Thus a disgraceful contest arose, in which each endeavoured to asperse the character of the other, though not without detriment to his own.
On the expiration of the office, when Caius Claudius had taken the oath respecting the observance of the laws, and had gone up into the treasury, he gave the name of his colleague among the names of those whom he left disfranchised.
Afterwards, Marcus Livius came into the treasury, and excepting only the Maecian tribe, which had neither condemned him nor made him consul or censor when condemned, left all the Roman people, four and thirty tribes, disfranchised, because they had both condemned him when innocent, and when condemned had made him consul and censor;
and therefore could not deny [p. 1282]
that they had been guilty of a crime, either once in his condemnation, or twice at the elections.
He said that the disfranchisement of Caius Claudius would be included in that of the thirty-four tribes, but that if he were in possession of a precedent for leaving the same person disfranchised twice, he would have left his name particularly among the disfranchised.
This contest between censors, endeavouring to brand each other, was highly improper, while the correction applied to the inconstancy of the people was suitable to the office of a censor, and worthy of the strict discipline of the times.
As the censors were labouring under odium, Cneius Babius, tribune of the people, thinking this a favourable opportunity of advancing himself at their expense, summoned them both to trial before the people. This proceeding was quashed by the unanimous voice of the senate, lest in future the office of censor should become subject to the caprice of the people.