Thus affairs at Rome returned to their former state; and successes abroad immediately excited commotions in the city.
Caius Terentillus Arsa1
was tribune of the people in that [p. 169]
year: he, considering that an opportunity was afforded for tribunitian intrigues during the absence of the consuls, after railing against the arrogance of the patricians for several days before the people, inveighed chiefly against the consular
authority, as being exorbitant and intolerable in a free state: "for that, in name
only, it was less invidious, in reality almost more oppressive than that of kings. For that two masters had been
adopted instead of one, with unbounded, unlimited power; who, themselves unrestrained and unbridled, directed all the terrors of the law, and all kinds of severity against the commons. Now, in order that this licentious power might not continue perpetual, he would propose a law, that five persons be appointed to draw up laws regarding the consular
power. That the consul should use that right which the people may give him over them; that they should not hold their own caprice and licentiousness as law. This law being published, when the patricians became afraid, lest, in the absence of the consuls, they should be subjected to the yoke, the senate is convened by Quintus Fabius, praefect of the city, who inveighed so vehemently against the bill and the author of it, that nothing was omitted of threats and intimidation, even
though both the consuls in all their exasperation surrounded the tribune, “that he had lain in wait, and, watching his opportunity, he made an attack on the commonwealth. If the gods in their anger had given them any tribune like him on the preceding year, during the pestilence and war, he could not have been withstood. Both the consuls being dead, and the exhausted state lying enfeebled in universal confusion,
that he would have proposed laws to abolish the consular government altogether from the state; that he would have headed the Volscians and Aequans to attack the city. What? if the consuls adopted any tyrannical or cruel proceedings against any of the citizens, was it not
competent to him to appoint a day of trial for him; to arraign him before those very judges against any one of whom severity may have been exercised? That it was not the consular authority but the tribunitian power that
he was rendering hateful and insupportable: which having been peaceable and reconciled to the patricians, was now about to be brought back anew to its former mischievous habits. Nor would he entreat him not to go on as he commenced. Of you, [p. 170]
the other tribunes, says Fabius, we request, that you will first of all consider that that
power was provided for the aid of individuals, not for the ruin of the community: that you were created tribunes of the commons, not enemies of the patricians. To us it is distressing, to
you a source of odium, that the republic, now bereft of its chief magistrates, should be attacked; you will diminish not your rights, but the odium against you. Confer with your colleague, that he may postpone this business till the arrival of the consuls; even the Aequans and the Volscians, when our consuls were carried off by pestilence last year, did not press on us with
a cruel and tyrannical war.” The tribunes confer with Terentillus, and the bill being to all appearance deferred, but in reality abandoned, the consuls were immediately sent for.