This was the end of Appius's assumption of a character not his own. Henceforward he began to live according to his own natural disposition, and to mould to his own temper his new colleagues before they should enter on their office.
They held daily meetings remote from witnesses: then, furnished with their schemes of tyranny,1
which they digested apart from others, no longer dissembling their arrogance, difficult of access, morose to all who addressed them, they carried out the matter to the ides of May. The ides of May were at that time the usual period
for commencing office. At the commencement then of their magistracy, they rendered the first day of their office remarkable by making an exhibition of great terror. For when the preceding decemvirs had observed the rule, that only one should have the fasces, and that this emblem of royalty should pass through all in rotation, to each in his turn, they all suddenly came forth with the twelve fasces. One hundred and twenty lictors filled the forum, and carried before them the axes tied up with the fasces: and they explained that it was of no consequence that the axe should be taken away, as they had been appointed without the
privilege of appeal.2
There was the appearance of ten kings, and terrors were multiplied not only in the humblest individuals, but even in the principal men among the patricians, who thought that a pretext and commencement of bloodshed were sought for; so that if any
one should utter a word favourable to liberty, either in the senate or in a meeting of the people, the rods and axes would be instantly brought forward, even to intimidate the rest. For besides that there was no protection in the people, the right of appeal [p. 202]
being done away with, they had also by mutual consent prohibited interference with each other:3
whereas the preceding decemvirs
had allowed the points of law decided by themselves to be amended by appeal to a colleague, and had referred to the people some points which might seem to come within their own jurisdiction. For a considerable time the terror seemed equalized among all ranks; gradually it began to turn entirely on the commons. They spared the patricians; arbitrary and cruel treatment was shown to the humbler classes: they were wholly respective of the person, not of the cause: as being persons with whom interest usurped the force of justice. Their decisions
they concerted at home, and pronounced in the forum. If any person appealed to a colleague, he left the one to whom he had appealed in such a manner
as to regret that he had not abided by the sentence of the former. An opinion also had gone abroad without an authority, that they had conspired in their tyranny not only for the present time, but that a clandestine league had been struck among them (accompanied) with an oath, that they would not hold the comitia, and that by perpetuating the decemvirate they would retain the power now in their possession.