Great alarm seized the patricians; the looks of the tribunes were now as menacing as those of the decemvirs had been. M. Duillius the tribune imposed a salutary check upon their excessive exercise of authority.
‘They have gone,’ he said, ‘far enough in the assertion of our liberty and the punishment of our opponents, so for this year I will allow no man to be brought to trial or cast into prisons.
I disapprove of old crimes, long forgotten, being raked up, now that the recent crimes have been atoned for by the punishment of the decemvirs. The unceasing care which both the consuls are taking to protect your liberties is a guarantee that nothing will be done which will call for the power of the tribunes.’
This spirit of moderation shown by the tribune relieved the fears of the patricians, but it also intensified their resentment against the consuls, for they seemed to be so wholly devoted to the plebs, that the safety and liberty of the patricians were a matter of more immediate concern to the plebeian than they were to the patrician magistrates. It seemed as though their adversaries would grow weary of inflicting punishment on them sooner than the consuls would curb their insolence.
It was pretty generally asserted that they had shown weakness, since their laws had been sanctioned by the senate, and no doubt was entertained that they had yielded to the pressure of circumstances.