The question concerning the restitution of the tyrants' effects, which the senate had formerly voted, came again under consideration. The fathers, fired with indignation, expressly forbad them either to be restored or confiscated.
They were given to be rifled by the people, that after being made participators in the royal plunder, they might lose for ever all hopes of a reconciliation with the Tarquins. A field belonging to them, which lay between the city and the Tiber, having been consecrated to Mars, has been called the Campus Martius.
It happened that there was a crop of corn upon it ready to be cut down, which produce of the field, as they thought it unlawful to use, after it was reaped, a great number of men carried the corn and straw in baskets, and threw them into the Tiber, which then flowed with shallow water, as is usual in the heat of summer; that thus the heaps of corn as it stuck in the shallows became settled when covered over with mud: by these and the afflux of other things, which the river happened to bring thither, an island was formed by degrees.
Afterwards I believe that mounds were added, and that aid was afforded by art, that a surface so well raised might be firm enough for sustaining temples and porticoes. After plundering the tyrants' effects, the traitors were condemned and capital punishment inflicted.
Their punishment was the more remarkable, because the consulship imposed on the father the office of punishing his own children, and him who should have been removed as a spectator, fortune assigned as the person to exact the punishment.
Young men of the highest quality stood tied to a stake; but the consul's sons attracted the eyes of all the spectators from the rest of the criminals, as from persons unknown; nor did the people pity them more on account of the severity of the punishment, than the [p. 85]
horrid crime by which they had deserved it.
“That they, in that year particularly, should have brought themselves to betray into the hands of Tarquin, formerly a proud tyrant, and now an exasperated exile, their country just delivered, their father its deliverer, the consulate which took its rise from the family of the Junii, the fathers, the people, and whatever belonged either to the gods or the citizens of Rome.”1
The consuls seated themselves in their tribunal, and the lictors, being despatched to inflict punishment, strip them naked, beat them with rods, and strike off their heads. Whilst during all this time, the father, his looks and his countenance, presented a touching spectacle,2
the feelings of the father bursting forth occasionally during the office of superintending the public
execution. Next after the punishment of the guilty, that there might be a striking example in either way for the prevention of crime, a sum of money was granted out of the treasury as a reward to the discoverer; liberty also and the rights of citizenship were granted
him. He is said to have been the first person made free by the Vindicta; some think even that the term vindicta is derived from him. After him it was observed as a rule, that those who were set free in this manner were supposed to be admitted to the rights of Roman citizens.3