This discussion was attended by disgraceful quarrels, for the senate had drawn over a section of the tribunes of the plebs to their
view, and the only thing that restrained the plebeians from offering personal violence was the use which the patricians made of their personal influence. Whenever shouts were raised to get up a brawl, the leaders of the senate were the first to go into the crowd and tell them to vent their rage on them, to beat and kill them.
The mob shrank from offering violence to men of their age and rank and distinction, and this feeling prevented them from attacking the other patricians.
Camillus went about delivering harangues everywhere, and saying that it was no wonder that the citizens had gone mad, for though bound by a vow, they showed more anxiety about everything than about discharging their religious obligations.
He would say nothing about the contribution, which was really a sacred offering rather than a tithe, and since each individual bound himself to a tenth, the State, as such, was free from the obligation.
But his conscience would not allow him to keep silence about the assertion that the tenth only applied to movables, and that no mention was made of the city and its territory, which were also really included in the vow.
As the senate considered the question a difficult one to decide, they referred it to the pontiffs, and Camillus was invited to discuss it with them. They decided that of all that had belonged to the Veientines before the vow was uttered and had subsequently passed into the power of Rome, a tenth part was sacred to Apollo. Thus the city and territory came into the estimate.
The money was drawn from the treasury, and the consular tribunes were commissioned to purchase gold with it. As there was not a sufficient supply, the matrons, after meeting to talk the matter over, made themselves by common consent responsible to the tribunes for the gold, and sent all their trinkets to the treasury.
The senate were in the highest degree grateful for this, and the tradition goes that in return for this munificence the matrons had conferred upon them the honour of driving to sacred festivals and games in a carriage, and on holy days and work days in a two-wheeled car.
The gold received from each was appraised in order that the proper amount of money might be paid for it, and it was decided that a golden bowl should be made and carried to Delphi as a gift to Apollo.
When the religious question no longer claimed their attention, the tribunes of the plebs renewed their agitation;
the passions of the populace were aroused against all the leading men, most of all against Camillus.
They said that by devoting the spoils of Veii to the State and to the gods he had reduced them to nothing. They attacked the senators furiously in their absence;
when they were present and confronted their rage, shame kept them silent.
As soon as the plebeians saw that the matter would be carried over into the following year, they reappointed the supporters of the proposal as their tribunes; the patricians devoted themselves to securing the same support for those who had vetoed the proposal. Consequently, nearly all the same tribunes of the plebs were re-elected.