There was peace at home and abroad both this and the following year, Caius Furius Pacilus and Marcus Papirius Crassus being consuls.
The games which had beer vowed by the decemvirs, in pursuance of a decree of the senate on occasion of the secession of the commons from the patricians, were performed this year.
An occasion for sedition was sought in vain by Paetelius, who, having been made a tribune of the commons a second time, by denouncing these same threats, could neither prevail on the consuls to submit to the senate the questions concerning the division of the lands [p. 264]
among the people;
and when, after a hard struggle, he had succeeded so far that the patricians should be consulted as to whether it was their pleasure that an election should be held of consuls or of tribunes, consuls were ordered to be elected;
and the menaces of the tribune were now laughed at, when he threatened that he would stop the levy, inasmuch as the neighbouring states being now quiet, there was no occasion either for war or for preparations for war.
This tranquil state of things is followed by a year, in which Proculus Geganius Macerinus, Lucius Menenius Lanatus were consuls, remarkable for a variety of disasters and dangers, also for disturbances, famine, for their having almost submitted their necks to the yoke of arbitrary power through the allurement of largesses.
Foreign war alone was wanting, by which if matters had been aggravated, they could scarcely have stood out against them by the aid of all the gods. Their misfortunes began with famine; whether it was that the season was unfavourable to the crops, or that the cultivation of the land was relinquished for the allurements of the city, and of public harangues; for both causes are assigned. And the patricians accused the commons as being idle; the tribunes of the com- mons complained sometimes of the fraud, at other times of the negligence of the consuls.
At length the commons prevailed, without opposition on the part of the senate, that Lucius Minutius should be appointed president of the market; doomed to be more successful in that office in preserving liberty than in the discharge of his own peculiar province: although in the end he bore away the well-earned gratitude of the people as well as the glory of having lowered the price of provisions.
When he had made but slight advance in relieving the markets by sending embassies around the neighbouring states by land and sea to no purpose, except that an inconsiderable quantity of corn was imported from Etruria, and applying himself to the careful dispensations of
their scanty stock, by obliging persons to show their supply, and to sell whatever was over and above a month's provision, and by depriving the slaves of one half of their daily allowance; then by censuring and holding up to the resentment of the people the corn-hoarders, he rather discovered the great scarcity of grain than relieved it by this rigorous inquisition.
Many of the com- [p. 265]
mons, all hope being lost, rather than be tortured by dragging out existence, muffled up their heads and precipitated themselves into the Tiber.