"If they win in this, what will they not attempt? Review all the laws with which your forefathers restrained their licence and made them subject to their husbands; even with all these bonds you can scarcely control them. What of this?
If you suffer them to seize these bonds one by one and wrench themselves free and finally to be placed on a parity with their husbands, do you think that you will be able to endure them? The moment they begin to be your equals, they will be your superiors.
But, by Hercules, they object to the passage of any new law against them, they complain not of law but of wrongs done them;
what they want, rather, is that you repeal this law which you have approved and ratified and which in the trial and experience of so many years you have found good: in other words, that by abolishing this one law you weaken the force of all the rest.
No law is entirely convenient for everyone; this alone is asked, whether it is good for the majority and on the whole. If every law which harms anyone in his private affairs is to be repealed and discarded, what good will it do for all the citizens to pass laws which those at whom they are aimed will at once annul?
I should like to know what it is which has caused the panic-stricken matrons to rush out into the streets and barely refrain from entering the Forum and a public meeting. Is it that our captives, their fathers, husbands, sons or brothers, may be ransomed from Hannibal?
Such [p. 421]
a calamity to the state is far away, and may it always1
be; but yet, when it did happen, you refused this to their pious prayers.2
But it was not affection nor anxiety about their dear ones which had brought them together: it was a religious rite, and they were about to receive the Idaean Mother as she came from Pessinus in Phrygia.3
What pretext, respectable even to mention, is now given for this insurrection of the women?
'That we may glitter with gold and purple,' says one, 'that we may ride in carriages on holidays and ordinary days, that we may be borne through the city as if in triumph over the conquered and vanquished law and over the votes which we have captured and wrested from you; that there may be no limits to our spending and our luxury.'