The following year had as consular tribunes Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, P. Lucretius Tricipitinus, and Spurius Nautius Rutilus. Thanks to the good fortune of Rome, the year was marked by serious danger more than by actual disaster.
The slaves had formed a plot to fire the City in various spots, and whilst the people were everywhere intent on saving their houses, to take armed possession of the Capitol. Jupiter frustrated their nefarious project; two of their number gave information, and the actual culprits were arrested and punished.
The informers received a reward of 10,000 ‘ases
’ —a large sum in those days —from the public treasury, and their freedom.
After this the Aequi began to prepare for a renewal of hostilities, and it was reported on good authority at Rome that a new enemy, the Labicans, were forming a coalition with their old foes.
The commonwealth had come to look upon hostilities with the Aequi as almost an annual occurrence. Envoys were sent to Labici. The reply they brought back was evasive; it was evident that whilst there were no immediate preparations for war, peace would not last long.
The Tusculans were requested to be on the watch for any fresh movement on the part of the Labicans.
consular tribunes for the following year were Lucius Sergius Fidenas, M. Papirius Mugilanus, and C. Servilius, the son of the Priscus in whose dictatorship Fidenae had been taken.
At the very beginning of their term of office, envoys came from Tusculum and reported that the Labicans had taken up arms and in conjunction with the Aequi had, after ravaging the Tusculan territory, fixed their camp on Algidus.
War was thereupon proclaimed and the senate decreed that two tribunes should leave for the war, and one remain in charge of the City. This at once led to a quarrel amongst the tribunes. Each urged his superior claims to command in the war and looked down upon the charge of the City as distasteful and inglorious.
Whilst the senators were watching with astonishment this unseemly strife amongst colleagues, Q. Servilius said, ‘Since no respect is shown either to this House or to the State, the authority of a father shall put an end to this altercation. My son, without having recourse to lots, shall take charge of the City. I trust that those who are so anxious for the command in the war will conduct it in a more considerate and amicable spirit than they have shown in their eagerness to obtain it.’