The sedition excited by Manlius reassuming its former violence, on the expiration of the year the election was held, and military tribunes with consular power were elected from among the patricians; they were Servius Cornelius Malugi- [p. 413]
nensis a third time, Publius Valerius Potitus a second time, Marcus Furius Camillus, Servius Sulpicius Rufus a second time, Caius Papirius Crassus, Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus a second time.
At the commencement of which year peace with foreign countries afforded every opportunity both to the patricians and plebeians: to the plebeians, because not being called away by any levy, they conceived hopes of destroying usury, whilst they had so influential a leader; to the patricians, because their minds were not called away by any external terror from relieving the evils existing at home.
Accordingly, as both sides arose much more strenuous then ever, Manlius also was present for the approaching contest. Having summoned the commons to his house, he holds consultations both by night and day with the leading men amongst them with respect to effecting a revolution of affairs, being filled with a much higher degree both of spirit and of resentment than he had been before.
The recent ignominy had lighted up resentment in a mind unused to affront; it gave him additional courage, that the dictator had not ventured to the same extent against him, as Quinctius Cincinnatus had done in the case of Spurius Maelius, and because the dictator had not only endeavoured to avoid the unpopularity of his imprisonment by abdicating the dictatorship, but not even the senate could bear up against it.
Elated by these considerations, and at the same time exasperated, he set about inflaming the minds of the commons, already sufficiently heated of themselves: “How long,” says he, “will you be ignorant of your own strength, which nature has not wished even the brutes to be ignorant of? At least count how many you are, and how many enemies you have.
Even if each of you were to attack an individual antagonist, still I should suppose that you would strive more vigorously in defence of liberty, than they in defence of tyranny.
For as many of you as have been clients around each single patron, in the same number will ye be against a single enemy. Only make a show of war; ye shall have peace.
Let them see you prepared for open force; they themselves will relax their pretensions. Collectively you must attempt something, or individually submit to every thing. How long will you look to me? I for my part will not be wanting to any of you: do you see that my fortune fail not. I, your avenger, when my enemies thought well of [p. 414]
it, was suddenly reduced to nothing; and you all in a body beheld that person thrown into chains, who had warded off chains from each one of you.
What am I to hope, if my enemies attempt more against me? Am I to expect the fate of Cassius and Maelius? You acted kindly in appearing shocked at it: the gods will avert it: but never will they come down from heaven on my account: they must inspire you with a determination to avert it; as they inspired me, in arms and in peace, to defend you from barbarous foes and tyrannical fellow-citizens.
Is the spirit of so great a people so mean, that aid against your adversaries always satisfies you? And are you not to know any contest against the patricians, except how you may suffer them to domineer over you? Nor is this implanted in you by nature; but you are theirs by possession.
For why is it you bear such spirit with respect to foreigners, as to think it meet that you should rule over them? because you have been accustomed to vie with them for empire, against these to essay liberty rather than to maintain it.
Nevertheless, whatsoever sort of leaders you have, whatever has been your own conduct, ye have up to this carried every thing which ye have demanded, either by force, or your own good fortune.
It is now time to aim at still higher objects. Only make trial both of your own good fortune, and of me, who have been, as I hope, already tried to your advantage.
Ye will with less difficulty set up some one to rule the patricians, than ye have set up persons to resist their rule. Dictatorships and consulships must be levelled to the ground, that the Roman commons may be able to raise their heads. Wherefore stand by me, prevent judicial proceedings from going on regarding money.
I profess myself the patron of the commons —a title with which my solicitude and zeal invests me. If you will dignify your leader by any more distinguishing title of honour or command, ye will render him still more powerful to obtain what ye desire.”
From this his first attempt is said to have arisen with respect to the obtaining of regal power; but no sufficiently clear account is handed down, either with whom [he acted], or how far his designs extended.