In the three hundred and tenth year after the city of Rome was built, for the first time military tribunes in the room of consuls enter into office, Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Atilius, Titus Claelius; in whose office, the concord prevailing at home afforded peace also abroad.
There are some who, without mentioning the proposal of the law concerning the election of consuls from among the commons, say that three military tribunes were elected on account of the Veientian war being added to the war of the Aequans and the Volscians and to the revolt of the Ardeates, because two consuls could not execute so many wars together, these tribunes being invested also with the authority and insignia of consuls.
The jurisdiction of that o ice how- ever did not stand on a firm footing, because the third month [p. 258]
after they entered on the office, they resigned the honour, in pursuance of a decree of the augurs, as if unduly elected; because Caius Curtius, who had presided at the election, had not selected his tent with due regard to ceremony.
Ambassadors came to Rome from Ardea complaining of the injustice in such a manner, that it appeared that, if it were redressed, they would continue in amity and the observance of the treaty, on the restitution of their land.
The answer returned by the senate was: “that the judgment of the people could not be rescinded by the senate, besides such a measure could not be adopted on precedent or with justice; as an additional reason also for the purpose of preserving concord between the several orders of the state.
If the Ardeans were willing to abide a seasonable conjuncture, and leave to the senate the mode of redressing the injustice done to them, that the consequence would be that they would rejoice for having moderated their resentment, and that they should be convinced that the patricians were equally anxious that no injustice should arise against them, and that any which may have arisen should not be lasting.”
Thus the ambassadors, saying that they should lay the whole matter anew before their friends, were dismissed courteously. The patricians, now that the republic was without any curule magistrate, assembled together and elected an interrex.
The contest whether consuls or military tribunes should be elected, kept the matter for several days in a state of interregnum. The interrex and senate strive that the elections of consuls be held; the tribunes of the people, and the people themselves, that elections of the military tribunes be held.
The patricians succeeded, because both the commons, sure to confer the one or the other honour on patricians, gave up a needless contest, and the leaders of the commons preferred those elections at which no account was to be taken of them (as candidates) to those at which they should be passed by as unworthy.
The tribunes of the commons also gave up the contest without a decision, as a compliment to the chiefs of the patricians. Titus Quintius Barbatus, the interrex, elects consuls Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, Lucius Sempronius Atratinus. During their consulship, the treaty was renewed with the Ardeans; and that is a record to prove, that they were consuls in that year, though they are not to be found among the ancient annals, [p. 259]
nor in the books of the magistrates.
I suppose because military tribunes existed at the commencement of the year, on that account, though these consuls were substituted, the names of the consuls were left out, just as if the military tribunes were the entire year in office.
Licinius Macer states, that they were found both in the Ardean treaty and in the linen books at the temple of Moneta. There was tranquillity both at home and abroad, though so many alarms were held out by the neighbouring states.