The tribunes now confounded, and more anxiously concerned at their own situation than at his for whom their support was sought, were freed from this embarrassment by the Roman [p. 551]
people unanimously having recourse to prayers and entreaties, that the dictator would, for their sakes, remit the punishment of the master of the horse.
The tribunes likewise, following the example set them of employing entreaties, earnestly beseech the dictator to pardon human error, to consider the immaturity of the offender's age; that he had suffered sufficiently;
and now the youth himself, now his father, Marcus Fabius, disclaiming further contest, fell at the dictator's knees and deprecated his wrath. Then the dictator, after causing silence, said, “Romans, it is well.
Military discipline has prevailed; the majesty of government has prevailed; both which were in danger of ceasing this day to exist. Quintus Fabius, who fought contrary to the order of his commander, is not acquitted of guilt;
but after being condemned as guilty, is granted as a boon to the Roman people; is granted to the college of tribunes, supporting him with their prayers, not with the regular power of their office.
Live, Quintus Fabius, more happy in this united sympathy of the state for your preservation, than in the victory in which you lately exulted. Live, after having ventured on such an act, as your father himself, had he been in the place of Lucius Papirius, would not have pardoned. With me you shall be reconciled whenever you wish it.
To the Roman people, to whom you owe your life, you can perform no greater service than to let this day teach you a sufficient lesson to enable you to submit to lawful commands, both in war and peace.”
He then declared, that he no longer detained the master of the horse, and as he retired from the rostrum, the senate being greatly rejoiced, and the people still more so, gathered round him and escorted him, on one hand commending the dictator, on the other congratulating the master of the horse;
while it was considered that the authority of military command was confirmed no less effectually by the danger of Quintus Fabius that the lamentable punishment of young Manlius.
It so hap- pened, that, through the course of that year, as often as the dictator left the army the Samnites were in motion: but Mar- cus Valerius, the lieutenant-general who commanded in the camp, had Quintus Fabius before his eyes for an example, not to fear any violence of the enemy, so much as the unrelenting anger of the dictator.
So that when a body of his foragers fell into an ambuscade and were cut to pieces in disadvantageous ground, it was generally believed that the lieutenant-general [p. 552]
could have given them assistance if he had not been held in dread by his rigorous orders.
The resentment for this also alienated the affections of the soldiery from the dictator, already incensed against him because he had been implacable towards Quintus Fabius, and because he had granted him pardon at the intercession of the Roman people, a thing which he had refused to their entreaties.