year which, owing to the moderation of the tribunes, had been free from disturbances, was followed by one in which L. Icilius was tribune, the consuls being Q. Fabius Ambustus and C. Furius Pacilus.
At the very beginning of the year he took up the work of agitation, as though it were the allotted task of his name and family, and announced proposals for dealing with the land question.
Owing to the outbreak of a pestilence which, however, created more alarm than mortality, the thoughts of men were diverted from the political struggles of the Forum to their homes and the necessity of nursing the sick.
The pestilence was regarded as less baneful than the agrarian agitation would have been. The community escaped with very few deaths considering the very large number of cases.
As usually happens, the pestilence brought a famine the following year, owing to the fields lying uncultivated.
The new consuls were M. Papirius Atratinus and C. Nautius Rutilus. The famine would have been more fatal than the pestilence had not the scarcity been relieved by the despatch of commissioners to all the cities lying on the Etruscan sea and the Tiber.
The Samnites, who occupied Capua and Cumae, refused in insolent terms to have any communication with the commissioners; on the other hand, assistance was generously given by the Sicilian Tyrant.2
The largest supplies were brought down the Tiber, through the ungrudging exertions of the Etruscans.
In consequence of the prevalence of sickness in the republic, the consuls found hardly any men available; as only one senator could be obtained for each commission, they were compelled to attach two knights to it.
Apart from the pestilence and the famine, there was no trouble either at home or abroad during these two years, but as soon as these causes of anxiety had disappeared, all the usual sources of disturbance in the commonwealth —dissensions at home, wars abroad —broke out afresh.