The decemvir, engrossed in mind by his lustful propensities, states that not only from the abusive language of Icilius yesterday, and the violence of Virginius, of which he had the entire Roman people as witnesses, but from authentic information also he ascertained, that cabals were held in the city during the whole night to stir up a sedition.
Accordingly that he, being aware of that danger, had come down with armed soldiers; not that he would molest any peaceable person, but in order to punish suitably to the majesty of the government persons disturbing the tranquillity of the state.
It will, therefore, be better to remain quiet. Go, lictor, says he, remove the crowd; and make way for the master to lay hold of his slave. When, bursting with passion, he had thundered out these words, the multitude themselves voluntarily separated, and the girl stood deserted a prey to injustice.
Then Virginius, when he saw no aid any where, says, I beg you, Appius, first pardon a father's grief, if I have said any thing too harsh against you: in the next place, suffer me to question the nurse before the maiden, what all this matter is? that if I have been falsely called her father, I may depart hence with a more resigned mind.
Permission being granted, he draws the girl and the nurse aside to the sheds near the temple of Cloacina, which now go by the name of the new sheds: and there snatching up a knife from a butcher, “In [p. 218]
this one way, the only one in my power, do I secure to you your liberty.” He then transfixes the girl's breast, and looking back towards the tribunal, he says, “With this blood I devote thee, Appius, and thy head.” Appius, aroused by the cry raised at so dreadful a deed, orders Virginius to be seized.
He, armed with the knife, cleared the way whithersoever he went, until, protected by the crowd of persons attending him, he reached the gate.
Icilius and Numitorius take up the lifeless body and exhibit it to the people: they deplore the villany of Appius, the fatal beauty of the maiden, and the dire necessity of the father. The matrons who followed exclaim, “Was this the condition of rearing children?
were these the rewards of chastity?” and other things which female grief on such occasions suggests, when their complaints are so much the more affecting, in proportion as (their grief) is more intense from the natural tenderness of their minds.
The voice of the men, and more especially of Icilius, entirely turned on the tribunitian power, on the right of appeal to the people which had been taken from them, and on the indignities thrown upon the state.