In the consulship of Mamercus Aemilius and Caius Valerius Potitus, the Aequans made preparations for war; the Volscians, though not by public authority, taking up arms, and entering the service as volunteers for pay.
When on the report of these enemies having started up, (for they had now passed into the Latin and Hernican land,) Marcus Maenius, a proposer of an agrarian law, would obstruct Valerius the consul when holding a levy, and when no one took the military oath against his own will under the protection of the tribune;
an account is suddenly brought that the citadel [p. 311]
of Carventa had been seized by the enemy.
The disgrace incurred by this event was both a source of odium to Maenius in the hands of the fathers, and it moreover afforded to the other tribunes, already pre-engaged as protestors against an agrarian law, a more justifiable pretext for resisting their colleague.
Wherefore after the matter had been protracted for a long time by wrangling, the consuls calling gods and men to witness, that whatever disgrace or loss had either been already sustained or hung over them from the enemy, the blame of it would be imputed to Maenius, who hindered the levy;
Maenius, on the other hand, exclaiming “that if the unjust occupiers would yield up possession of the public land, he would cause no delay to the levy:” the nine tribunes interposing a decree, put an end to the contest;
and they proclaimed as the determination of their college, "that they would, for the purposes of the levy, in opposition to the protest of their colleague, afford their aid to Caius Valerius the consul in inflicting fines and other penalties on those who refused to enlist.
When the consul, armed with this decree, ordered into prison a few who appealed to the tribune, the rest took the military oath from fear.
The army was marched to the citadel of Carventa, and though hated by and disliking the consul, they on their first arrival recovered the citadel in a spirited manner, having dislodged those who were protecting it; some in quest of plunder having straggled away through carelessness from the garrison, afforded an opportunity for attacking them.
There was considerable booty from the constant devastations, because all had been collected into a safe place. This the consul ordered the quaestors to sell by auction and carry it into the treasury, declaring that the army should then participate in the booty, when they had not declined the service.
The exasperation of the commons and soldiers against the consul was then augmented. Accordingly, when by a decree of the senate the consul entered the city in an ovation, rude verses in couplets were thrown out with military licence;
in which the consul was severely handled, whilst the name of Maenius was cried up with encomiums, when at every mention of the tribune the attachment of the surrounding people vied by their applause and commendation with the loud praises of the soldiers.
And that circumstance occasioned more anxiety to the patricians, than the wanton raillery of the [p. 312]
soldiers against the consul, which was in a manner a usual thing; and the election of Maenius among the military tribunes being deemed as no longer questionable, if he should become a candidate, he was kept out of it by an election for consuls being appointed.