When both the consuls came forward into the assembly, and the matter had changed from a long series of harangues to altercation, the tribune, on asking why it was not right that a plebeian should
be made a consul, an answer was returned truly perhaps, though by no means expediently for the present contest, “that no plebeian could have the auspices, and for this reason the decemvirs had prohibited the intermarriage, lest from uncertainty of descent the auspices might be vitiated.”
The commons were fired with indignation at this above all, because, as if hateful to the immortal gods, they were denied to be qualified to take auspices. And now (as the commons both had a most energetic supporter in the tribune, and they themselves vied with him in perseverance) there was no end of the contentions, until the patricians, being at length overpowered, agreed that the law regarding intermarriage should be passed, judging that by these means
most probably the tribunes would either give up altogether or postpone till after the war the question concerning the plebeian consuls; and that in the mean time the commons, content with the intermarriage-law (being passed,) would be ready to enlist.
When Canuleius was now in high repute by his victory over the patricians and by the favour of the commons, the other tribunes being excited to contend for their bill, set to work with all their might, and, the accounts regarding the war augmenting daily, obstruct the levy.
The consuls, when nothing could be transacted through the senate in consequence of the opposition of the tribunes, held meetings of the leading men at their own houses. It was becoming evident that they must concede the victory either to the enemies or to their countrymen.
Valerius and Horatius alone of the consulars did not attend the meetings. The opinion of Caius Claudius was for arming the consuls against the tribunes. The sentiments of [p. 257]
the Quintii, both Cincinnatus and Capitolinus, were averse to bloodshed, and to violating (persons) whom by the treaty concluded with the commons they had admitted to be sacred and inviolable.
Through these meetings the matter was brought to this, that they suffered tribunes of the soldiers with consular authority to be elected from the patricians and commons without distinction; that with respect to the election of consuls no change should be made; and with this the tribunes were content, as were also the commons.
An assembly is now proclaimed for electing three tribunes with consular power. This being proclaimed, forthwith whoever had contributed to promote sedition by word or deed, more particularly men who had been tribunes, began to solicit support and to bustle about the forum as candidates;
so that despair, in the first instance, of obtaining the honour, by reason of the irritated state of the people's mind, then indignation at having to hold the office with such persons, deterred the patricians; at length however, being forced, they stood as candidates, lest they might appear to have relinquished all share in the government.
The result of this election showed that the sentiments of persons in the struggle for liberty and dignity are different from those they feel when the contest is laid aside, the judgment being unbiassed; for the people elected all patricians as tribunes, content with this, that the plebeians had been taken into account.
Where could you now find in an individual such moderation, disinterestedness, and elevation of mind, as was then displayed by the entire people?