on his side were ranged the countenance of the senate, the favour of the populace, the assistance of the tribunes, the remembrance of the absent army.
his opponent urged the invincible authority of the Roman People, and military discipline, and the edict of a dictator —which had ever been revered as the will of Heaven —and the severity of Manlius,1
who had preferred the general good to the love he bore his son, even as Lucius Brutus,2
the founder of Roman liberty, had done before, in the case of his two children.
but nowadays —the dictator proceeded —fathers were indulgent; and the older generation, little caring if another man's authority were flouted, excused the young for overturning military discipline, as a thing of no importance.
he should nevertheless persist in his undertaking, nor remit an iota of his due punishment to one who had fought against his orders, while the rites of religion were confused and the [p. 135]
whether the majesty of the3
supreme authority were to endure or not was beyond his power to determine; but Lucius Papirius would do nothing to diminish it.
he prayed that the tribunes might not employ their power —itself inviolate —to violate by their interference the authority of Rome; that the people might not single out the very time of his holding that office to extinguish the lawful might of the dictatorship.
should they do so, it would not be Lucius Papirius, but the tribunes and the crooked judgment of the people, that posterity would censure, and censure without avail.
for let military discipline be once broken, and soldier would not obey centurion, nor centurion tribune, nor tribune lieutenant, nor lieutenant consul, nor master of the horse dictator —none would have respect for men, none reverence for the gods;
neither edicts of generals nor auspices would be regarded; the soldiers, without leave, would roam in hostile as in peaceful territory; with no thought of their oath they would quit the service by their own permission, when they pleased;
the standards would be deserted, the men would not come together at command; they would fight without reference to night or day, to the advantage or disadvantage of the ground, to the orders or prohibition of the general; they would neither wait for the word nor keep to their ranks; blind and haphazard brigandage would supplant the time —honoured and hallowed ways of war.
—“on such charges, tribunes of the plebs, expose yourselves to be arraigned through all the ages! let your own heads bear the guilt of the licence of Quintus Fabis!” [p. 137]