The next day, after posting guards at different points, he came down to the Forum. The novelty and mystery of the thing drew the attention of the plebs towards him.
Maelius and his confederates recognised that this tremendous power was directed against them, whilst those who knew nothing of the plot asked what disturbance or sudden outbreak of war called for the supreme authority of a Dictator or required Quinctius, after reaching his eightieth year, to assume the government of the republic.
Servilius, the Master of the Horse, was despatched by the Dictator to Maelius with the message: ‘The Dictator summons you.’ Alarmed at the summons, he inquired what it meant. Servilius explained that he had to stand his trial and clear himself of the charge brought against him by Minucius in the senate.
On this Maelius retreated amongst his troop of adherents, and looking round at them began to slink away, when an officer by order of the Master of the Horse seized him and began to drag him away. The bystanders rescued him, and as he fled he implored ‘the protection of the Roman plebs,’ and said that he was the victim of a conspiracy amongst the patricians, because he had acted generously towards the plebs.
He entreated them to come to his help in this terrible crisis, and not suffer him to be butchered before their eyes.
Whilst he was making these appeals, Servilius overtook him and slew him. Besprinkled with the dead man's blood, and surrounded by a troop of young patricians, he returned to the Dictator and reported that Maelius after being summoned to appear before him had driven away his officer and incited the populace to riot, and had now met with the punishment he deserved.
‘Well done!’ said the Dictator, ‘C. Servilius, you have delivered the republic.’