while at home an attempt, made through the1
dictator, to obtain the return of patricians to both consulships, brought the state to an interregnum.
The two interreges who were put in, Gaius Sulpicius [p. 431]
and Marcus Fabius, brought to pass what the2
dictator had vainly striven for; and the plebs being now grown more tractable, thanks to the help lately granted them in the relief of debt, both men elected consuls were patricians.
These were that very Gaius Sulpicius Peticus, who was the earlier of the two interreges, and Titus Quinctius Poenus. (Some give Caeso, others Gaius, as the praenomen of Quinctius.)
Both marched out to fight, Quinctius against the Faliscans, Sulpicius against the Tarquinienses; but nowhere encountering their enemies in battle, they warred rather with the land, which they burnt and pillaged, than with men;
until the obstinacy of both peoples was overcome, as by the wasting of a lingering illness, and they requested a truce, first of the consuls, and later, by their permission, of the senate. They were granted one for forty years.
The anxiety arising from two threatening wars being thus allayed, it was resolved that while there was some rest from arms they would take the census; for the settlement of debts had brought about the change of ownership in many properties.
But when notice had been given of an assembly for the election of censors, an announcement that he should be a candidate on the part of Gaius Marcius Rutulus, who had been the first plebeian dictator, played havoc with the harmony of the orders;
for he seemed to have taken this step at an untoward time, since both the consuls, as it fell out, were then patricians, who declared that they would receive no votes for him;
but Rutulus himself held firmly to his purpose, and the tribunes aided him with all their power, in the hope of [p. 433]
recovering what they had lost in the election of3
consuls; and not only was the man's own greatness equal to any honour, however lofty, but the plebs desired that they might be called to share the censorship by the same man who had opened up for them a path to the dictatorship.
There was no dissenting opinion shown at the assembly, and Marcius was elected, along with Manlius Naevius.
There was a dictator in this year also, namely, Marcus Fabius, not because of any threatened war, but to prevent the observance of the Licinian law in the consular election.
Quintus Servilius was assigned to the dictator as master of the horse. But the dictatorship made the unanimity of the patricians no more potent in the election of consuls than it had been in the election of censors.4