The tribunes were dumbfounded, more1
troubled now on their own account than on his, for whom their help was being solicited; but the Roman People relieved them of their burden of responsibility, when they turned as one man to the dictator, and entreated and adjured him to remit for their sake the punishment of the master of the horse.
The tribunes, too, fell in with the prevailing mood, and earnestly besought Papirius to allow for human frailty, to allow for the youth of Quintus Fabius, who had suffered punishment enough.
now the young man himself, now his father Marcus Fabius, forgetting all contention, threw themselves down at the dictator's knees and attempted to avert his anger.
then said the dictator, when silence was obtained, “it is well, Quirites. The discipline of war, the majesty of government, have got the victory, despite the danger that this day would see the end of them.
Quintus Fabius is not found guiltless, seeing that he fought against the orders of his general; but, convicted of that guilt, is granted as a boon to the Roman People, is granted to the authority of the tribunes, who plead for him but can bring him no legal relief.
live, Quintus Fabius, more blest in this consent of your fellow citizens to save you, than in the victory over which, a little while ago, you were exulting! live, though you dared a deed which not even your sire would have pardoned, had he been in the place of Lucius Papirius!
with me you shall again be on good terms when you will; for the Roman People, to whom you owe your life, you can do nothing greater than to show that you have learned what this day clearly teaches —to submit in war and in peace [p. 139]
to lawful authority.”
then, declaring that the2
master of the horse was free to depart, he descended from the platform, and the joyful senators and yet more joyful people thronged about them and attended them, congratulating now the master of the horse and now the dictator.
it seemed that the peril of Fabius had been not less efficacious than the pitiful punishment of young Manlius in the establishment of military authority.
it so fell out that year, that as often as the dictator left the army, there was a rising of the enemy in Samnium. but with the example of Quintus Fabius before his eyes, Marcus Valerius, the lieutenant who commanded in the camp, could not fear any violence of the enemy more than the dread displeasure of the dictator.
and so when a party of foragers had fallen into an ambush and fighting at a disadvantage had been slain, it was commonly believed that the lieutenant might have rescued them, had he not quailed at the thought of those harsh orders.
their resentment of this still further estranged the soldiers from the dictator, angry as they already were at his unwillingness to pardon Quintus Fabius, and his having granted to the Roman People a boon he had denied to their own entreaties.