The resentment of the people against Cassius was not of long duration. The allurements of the agrarian law, now that its proposer was gone, were of themselves gaining ground in their minds; and this feeling was further heightened by the parsimonious conduct of the senators, who, the Volsci and Aequi having been defeated that year, defrauded the soldiers of the booty; whatever was taken from the enemy, the consul Fabius sold, and lodged the proceeds in the treasury.
The Fabian name was odious to the commons on account of the last consul: the senate however succeeded in having Kaeso Fabius elected consul with L. Aemilius.
The commons, still further incensed at this, stirred up foreign war by exciting disturbance at home; civil dissensions were then interrupted by war. The senators and commons uniting, under the conduct of Aemilius, conquered in battle the Volsci and Aequi who renewed hostilities.
The retreat, however, destroyed more of the enemy than the battle; so perseveringly did the horse pursue them when routed.
During the same year, on the ides of July, the temple of Castor was dedicated: it had been vowed during the Latin war in the dictatorship of Posthumius: his son, who was elected duumvir for that special purpose, dedicated it. In that year also the minds of the people were excited by the charms of the agrarian law.
The tribunes of th people were for enhancing the popular power (vested in them) by promoting the popular law. The senators, considering that there was enough and more than enough of frenzy in the multitude without any additional incitement, viewed with horror largesses and all inducements to temerity: the senators found in the consuls most energetic abettors in making resistance.
That portion of the commonwealth therefore pre- [p. 130]
vailed; and not for the present only, but for the forthcoming year they succeeded in bringing in M. Fabius, Kaeso's brother, as consul, and one still more detested by the commons for his persecution of Sp. Cassius, L. Valerius.
In that year also there was a contest with the tribunes. The law proved to be a' vain project, and the abettors of the law mere boasters, by their holding out a gift that was not realized. The Fabian name was from thence held in high repute, after three successive consulates, and all as it were uniformly exercised in contending with the tribunes; accordingly, the honour remained for a considerable time in that family, as being right well placed.
A Veientian war was then commenced; the Volscians, too, renewed hostilities; but for foreign wars their strength was almost more than sufficient, and they abused it by contending among themselves.
To the distracted state of the public mind were added prodigies from heaven, exhibiting almost daily threats in the city and in the country, and the soothsayers, consulted by the state and by private individuals, one while by means of entrails, another by birds, declared that there was no other cause for the divine anger, but that the ceremonies of religion were not duly attended to.
These terrors, however, terminated in this, that Oppia, a vestal virgin, being found guilty of a breach of chastity, was made to suffer punishment.