The senate was assembled in the Capitol. Thither the tribunes come with the commons in great consternation: the populace, with loud clamours, implore the protection now of the consuls, now of the patricians: nor could they make the consul recede from his determination, until the tribunes promised that they would be under the direction of the patricians.
Then on the consul's laying before them the demands of the tribunes and commons, decrees of the senate are passed, “That neither the tribunes should propose the law during that year, and that the consuls should not lead the army from the city —that for the time to come, the senate decided that it was to the injury of the commonwealth, that the same magistrates should be continued, and the same tribunes be re-appointed.”
The consuls conformed to the authority of the senate, the tribunes were re-appointed notwithstanding the remonstrances of the consuls. The patricians also, that they might not yield to the commons in any par- [p. 185]
ticular, re-elected Lucius Quintius consul.
No proceeding of the consul was urged with more warmth during the entire year. “Can I be surprised,” says he, “if your authority is of little weight, conscript fathers? yourselves are disparaging it.
Forsooth, because the commons have violated a decree of the senate, by re-appointing their magistrates, you yourselves also wish it to be violated, lest ye should yield to the populace in rashness; as if to possess greater power in the state consisted in having more of inconstancy and irregularity; for it is certainly more inconstant and greater folly, to do away with one's own decrees and resolutions, than those of others.
Imitate, conscript fathers, the inconsiderate multitude; and ye, who should be an example to others, transgress by the example of others, rather than others should act correctly by yours, provided I imitate not the tribunes, nor suffer myself to be reelected consul, contrary to a decree of the senate.
But I advise you, Caius Claudius, that both you on your part restrain the Roman people from this licentiousness, and that you be persuaded of this on my part, that I shall so take it, as not to consider that my honour has been obstructed by you, but that the glory of declining the honour has been augmented, and the odium, which would hang over me from its being continued, has been lessened.”
Upon this they issue this order jointly: “That no one should attempt to make Lucius Quintius consul: if any one should do so, that they would not allow that vote.”