The disturbers of the commons were Spurius Maecilius a fourth time, and Spurius Maetilius a third time, tribunes of the people, both elected during their absence.
And after they had proposed a bill, that the land taken from the enemy [p. 305]
should be divided man by man, and the property of a considerable part of the nobles would be confiscated by such a measure;
for there was scarcely any of the land, considering the city itself was built on a strange soil, that had not been acquired by arms;
nor had any other persons except the commons possession of that which had been sold or publicly assigned, a violent contest between the commons and patricians seemed to be at hand; nor did the military tribunes discover either in the senate, or in the private meetings of the nobles, any line of conduct to pursue;
when Appius Claudius, the grandson of him who had been decemvir for compiling the laws, being the youngest senator of the meeting, is stated to have said;
“that he brought from home an old and a family scheme, for that his great-grandfather, Appius Claudius, had shown the patricians one method of baffling tribunitian power by the protests of their colleagues;
that men of low rank were easily led away from their opinions by the influence of men of distinction, if language were addressed to them suitable to the times, rather than to the dignity of the speakers.
That their sentiments were regulated by their circumstances. When they should see that their colleagues, having the start in introducing the measure, had engrossed to themselves the whole credit of it with the commons, and that no room was left
for them, that they would without reluctance incline to the interest of the senate, through which they may conciliate the favour not only of the principal senators, but of the whole body.”
All expressing their approbation, and above all, Quintius Servilius Priscus eulogizing the youth, because he had not degenerated from the Claudian race, a charge is given, that they should gain over as many of the college of the tribunes as they could, to enter protests.
On the breaking up of the senate the tribunes are applied to by the le ding patricians: by persuading, admonishing, and assuring them “that it would be gratefully felt by them individually, and gratefully by the entire senate, they prevailed on six to give in heir protests.”
And on the following day, when the proposition was submitted to the senate, as had been preconcerted, concerning the sedition which Maecilius and Maetilius were exciting
by urging a largess of a most mischievous precedent, such speeches were delivered by the leading senators, that each declared “that for his part he had no measure to advise, nor did he see any [p. 306]
other resource in any thing, except in the aid of the tribunes. That to the protection of that power the republic, embarrassed as it was, fled for succour, just as a private individual in distress.
That it was highly honourable to themselves and to their office that there resided not in the tribuneship more strength to harass the senate and to excite disunion among the several orders, than to resist their perverse colleagues.”
Then a shout arose throughout the entire senate, when the tribunes were appealed to from all parts of the house: then silence being established, those who had been prepared through the interest of the leading men, declare that they will protest against the measure which had been proposed by their colleagues, and which the senate considers to tend to the dissolution of the state.
Thanks were returned to the protestors by the senate. The movers of the law, having convened a meeting, and styling their colleagues traitors to the interests of the commons and the slaves of the consulars, and after inveighing against them in other abusive language, relinquished the measure.