‘In a word, does the supreme power belong to you or to the Roman people? Did the expulsion of the kings mean absolute ascendancy for you or equal liberty for all?
Is it right and proper for the Roman people to enact a law, if it wishes to do so, or are you going, whenever a measure is proposed, to order a levy by way of punishment? Am I to call the tribes up to vote, and as soon as I have begun, are you, the consuls, going to compel those who are liable for service to take the military oath, and then march them off to camp, threatening alike the plebs and the tribunes?
Why, have you not on two occasions found out what your threats are worth against a united plebs? Was it, I wonder, in our interest that you abstained from an open conflict, or was it because the stronger party was also the more moderate one that there was no fighting?
Nor will there be any conflict now, Quirites;
they will always try your courage, they will not test your strength.’
‘And so, consuls, the plebeians are ready to follow you to these wars, whether real or imaginary, on condition that by restoring the right of intermarriage you at last make this commonwealth a united one, that it be in their power to be allied with you by family ties, that the hope of attaining high office be granted to men of ability and energy, that it be open to them to be associated with you in taking their share of the government, and-which is the essence of equal liberty-to rule and obey in turn, in the annual succession of magistrates.
If any one is going to obstruct these measures, you may talk about wars and exaggerate them by rumour, no one is going to give in his name, no one is going to take up arms, no one is going to fight for domineering masters with whom they have in public life no partnership in honours, and in private life no right of intermarriage.’