in the same year a government clerk, Gnaeus Flavius, the son of Gnaeus, was curule aedile. born in humble circumstances —his father being a freedman —he was, for the rest, a man of shrewdness and eloquence.
i find in certain annals that being in attendance upon the aediles, and perceiving that the tribes were supporting him for aedile, but that his name was thrown out because he was acting as a recorder, he put away his tablet and took an oath that he would keep no record.1
Licinius Macer alleges that he had ceased some time2
before to act as secretary, having been already a tribune, and on two occasions a triumvir, once on the commission which had charge of the night —watch,3
and again on one appointed to found a colony.
at all events there is no difference of opinion about the stubbornness of his contention with the nobles, who despised his lowly birth.
he published the formulae of the civil law, which had been filed away in the secret archives of the pontiffs, and posted up the calendar on white notice —boards about the Forum, that men might know when they could bring an action.
he dedicated a temple of Concord in the precinct of Vulcan, greatly to the resentment of the nobles;
and Cornelius Barbatus, the chief pontiff, was forced by the unanimous wishes of the people to dictate the form of words to him, though he asserted that by custom of the elders none but a consul or commanding general might dedicate a temple.
so, in accordance with a senatorial resolution, a measure was enacted by the people providing that no one should dedicate a temple or an altar without the authorization of the senate or a majority of the tribunes of the plebs. —I will relate an incident, of no importance in itself, which may serve to show how the plebs asserted their liberties against the arrogance of the nobles.
Flavius had come to make a call upon a colleague who was sick, and the young nobles who were sitting by his bed with one consent omitted to rise on his entering; whereupon he ordered his curule chair to be fetched in, and from his official seat gazed at his adversaries, who were choking with resentment.
now Flavius had been elected aedile by the faction of the market —place, [p. 353]
which had become powerful in consequence of the4
censorship of Appius Claudius.
Claudius had been the first to debase the senate by the appointment of the sons of freedmen, and afterwards, when no one allowed the validity of his selection, and he had failed to gain the influence in the senate —house
which had been his object, he had distributed the humble denizens of the City amongst all the tribes, and had thus corrupted the Forum and the Campus Martius.5
and so great was the indignation over the election of Flavius that many of the nobles laid aside their golden rings
and medals. from that time the citizens were divided into two parties; the men of integrity, who favoured and cherished right principles, tended one way, the rabble of the marketplace another; until Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius became censors, and Fabius, partly for the sake of harmony, partly that the elections might not be in the hands of the basest of the people, culled out all the market —place mob and cast them into four tribes, to which he gave the name
of Urban. The arrangement, they say, was so gratefully received, that by this regulation of the orders he purchased the surname of the Great, which not all his victories had been able to procure him. it was Fabius too, so it is said, who instituted the parade of the knights on the fifteenth of July. [p. 355]