Whilst a division was being taken and the younger senators were carrying this proposition, Valerius and Horatius rose again in great excitement and loudly demanded leave to discuss the political situation. If, they said, the faction in the senate prevented them, they would bring it before the people, for private citizens had no power to silence them either in the Senate-house or in the Assembly, and they were not going to give way before the fasces
of a mock authority.
Appius felt that unless he met their violence with equal audacity, his authority was practically at an end.
‘It will be better,’ he said, ‘not to speak on any subject but the one we are now considering,’ and as Valerius insisted that he should not keep silent for a private citizen, Appius ordered a lictor to go to him.
Valerius ran to the doors of the Senate-house and invoked ‘the protection of the Quirites.’ L. Cornelius put an end to the scene by throwing his arms round Appius as though to protect Valerius, but really to protect Appius from further mischief. He obtained permission for Valerius to say what he wanted, and as this liberty did not go beyond words, the decemvirs achieved their purpose.
The consulars and senior senators felt that the tribunitian authority, which they still regarded with detestation, was much more eagerly desired by the plebs than the restoration of the consular authority, and they would almost rather have had the decemvirs voluntarily resigning office at a subsequent period than that the plebs should recover power through their unpopularity.
If matters could be quietly arranged and the consuls restored without any popular disturbance, they thought that either the preoccupation of war or the moderate exercise of power on the part of the consuls would make the plebs forget all about their tribunes.
The levy was proclaimed without any protest from the senate. The men of age for active service answered to their names, as there was no appeal from the authority of the decemvirs. When the legions were enrolled, the decemvirs arranged among themselves their respective commands.
The prominent men amongst them were Q. Fabius and Appius Claudius. The war at home threatened to be more serious than the one abroad, and the violent disposition of Appius was deemed more fitted to repress commotions in the City, whilst Fabius was looked upon as more inclined to evil practices than to be any permanent good to them.
This man, at one time so distinguished both at home and in the field, had been so changed by office and the influence of his colleagues that he preferred to take Appius as his model rather than be true to himself.
He was entrusted with the Sabine
war, and Manlius Rabuleius and Q. Poetilius were associated with him in its conduct. M. Cornelius was sent to Algidus, together with L. Minucius, T. Antonius, Kaeso Duillius, and M. Sergius. It was decreed that Sp. Oppius should assist Ap. Claudius in the defence of the City, with an authority coordinate with that of the other decemvirs.