two who were elected were Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus and L. Furius Medullinus.
On no other occasion had the plebs been more indignant at not being allowed to elect consular tribunes. They showed their indignation in the election of quaestors, and they had their revenge, for that was the first time that plebeians were elected quaestors, and so far did they carry their resentment, that out of the four who were elected one place only was left open for a patrician, viz.,
Kaeso Fabius Ambustus. The three plebeians, Q. Silius, P. Aelius, and P. Pupius, were chosen in preference to scions of the most illustrious families.
It was the Icilii, I find, who induced the people to show this independence at the poll; that family was most bitter against the patricians, and three of its members were elected tribunes for this year by holding out hopes of numerous important reforms on which the people had set their hearts.
They declared that they would not take a single step if the people had not sufficient courage even in electing quaestors to secure the end which they had long desired and which the laws had put within their reach, seeing that this was the only office which the senate had left open to patricians and plebeians alike.
The plebeians regarded this as a splendid victory; they valued the quaestorship not by what it was in itself, but as opening the path for men who had risen from the ranks to consulships and triumphs. The patricians on the other hand were indignant; they felt that they were not so much giving a share of the honours of the State as losing them altogether.
‘If,’ they said, ‘this is the state of things, children must no longer be reared, since they will only be banished from the station their ancestors filled, and whilst seeing others in possession of the dignity which is theirs by right, they will be left, deprived of all authority and power, to act as Salii or Flamens, with no other duty than that of offering sacrifices for the people.’
Both parties were exasperated, and as the spirit of the plebs was rising and they had three leaders bearing a name illustrious in the popular cause, the patricians saw that the results of all the elections would be the same as that for quaestors in which the plebs had a free choice.
They exerted themselves, therefore, to secure the election of consuls, which was not yet open to both orders; whilst the Icilii on the other hand said that consular tribunes must be elected, and that the highest honours must sooner or later be shared by the plebs.