Expressions were therefore heard freely uttered of persons upbraiding the multitude, that “by their favour they always raised their defenders to a precipice, then at the very critical moment of danger they forsook them.
That in this way Spurius Cassius, when inviting the commons to a share in the lands, in this way Spurius Maelius, when warding off famine from the mouths of his fellow-citizens at his own expense, had been undone; thus Marcus Manlius was betrayed to his enemies, whilst drawing forth to liberty and light one half of the state, when sunk and overwhelmed with usury.
That the commons fattened their favourites that they might be slaughtered. Was this punishment to be suffered, if a man [p. 412]
of consular rank did not answer at the nod of a dictator? Suppose that he had lied before, and that on that account he had had no answer to make; what slave was ever imprisoned in punishment of a lie?
Did not the memory of that night present itself, which was well nigh the last and an eternal one to the Roman name? nor any idea of the band of Gauls climbing up the Tarpeian rock? nor that of Marcus Manlius himself, such as they had seen him in arms, covered with sweat and blood, after having in a manner rescued Jupiter himself from the hands of the enemy?
Was a recompence made to the preserver of their country with their half pounds of corn? and would they suffer a person, whom they almost deified, whom they had set on a footing with Jupiter, at least with respect to the surname of Capitolinus, to drag out an existence subject to the will of an executioner, chained in a prison and in darkness? Was there thus sufficient aid in one person for all; and no relief for one in so many?”
The crowd did not disperse from that place even during the night, and they threatened that they would break open the prison; when that being conceded which they were about to take by force, Manlius was discharged from prison by a decree of the senate; by which proceeding the sedition was not terminated, but a leader was supplied to the sedition.
About the same time the Latins and Hernicians, as also the colonists of Circeii and Velitrae, when striving to clear themselves of the charge [of being concerned] in the Volscian war, and demanding back the prisoners, that they may punish them according to their own laws, received a harsh answer; the colonists the severer, because being Roman citizens they had formed the abominable design of attacking their own country.
They were therefore not only refused with respect to the prisoners, but notice was given them in the name of the senate, who however forbore from such a proceeding in the case of the allies, instantly to depart from the city, from the presence and sight of the Roman people; lest the law of embassy, provided for the foreigner, not for the citizen, should afford them no protection.