In the same year, Cneius Flavius, son of Cneius, grandson of a freed man, a notary, in low circumstances originally, but artful and eloquent, was appointed curule aedile.
I find in some annals, that, being in attendance on the aediles, and seeing that he was voted aedile by the prerogative tribe, but that his name would not be received, because he acted as a notary, he threw down his tablet, and took an oath, that he would not, for the future, follow that business.
But Licinius Macer contends, that he had dropped the employment of notary a considerable time before, having already been a tribune, and twice a triumvir, once for regulating the nightly watch, and another time for conducting a colony.
However, of this there is no dispute, that against the nobles, who threw contempt on the meanness of his condition, he contended with much firmness.
He made public the rules of proceeding in judicial causes, hitherto shut up in the closets of the pontiffs; and hung up to public view, round the forum, the calendar on white tablets, that all might know when business could be transacted in the courts.
To the great displeasure of the nobles, he performed the dedication of the temple of Concord, in the area of Vulcan's temple; and the chief pontiff, Cornelius Barbatus, was compelled by the united instances of the people, to dictate to him the form of words, although he affirmed, that, consistently with the practice of antiquity, no other than a consul, or commander-in-chief, could dedicate a temple.
This occasioned a law to be proposed to the people, by direction of the senate, that no person should [p. 627]
dedicate a temple, or an altar, without an order from the senate, or from a majority of the plebeian tribunes.
The incident which I am about to mention would be trivial in itself, were it not an instance of the freedom assumed by plebeians in opposition to the pride of the nobles.
When Flavius had come to make a visit to his colleague, who was sick, and when, by an arrangement between some young nobles who were sitting there, they did not rise on his entrance, he ordered his curule chair to be brought thither, and from his honourable seat of office enjoyed the sight of his enemies tortured with envy.
However, a low faction, which had gathered strength during the censorship of Appius Claudius, had made Flavius an aedile; for he was the first who degraded the senate, by electing into it the immediate descendants of freed men;
and when no one allowed that election as valid, and when he had not acquired in the senate-house that influence in the city which he had been aiming at, by distributing men of the meanest order among all the several
tribes, he thus corrupted the assemblies both of the forum and of the field of Mars; and so much indignation did the election of Flavius excite, that most of the nobles laid aside their gold rings and bracelets in consequence of it.
From that time the state was split into two parties.
The uncorrupted part of the people, who favoured and supported the good, held one side; the faction of the rabble, the other; until Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were made censors; and Fabius, both for the sake of concord, and at the same time to prevent the elections remaining in the hands of the lowest of the people, purged the rest of the tribes of all the rabble of the forum, and threw it into four, and called them city tribes.
And this procedure, we are told, gave such universal satisfaction, that, by this regulation in the orders of the state, he obtained the surname of Maximus, which he had not obtained by his many victories. The annual review of the knights, on the ides of July, is also said to have been instituted by him.