But in the city, when the citizens were standing in the forum erect with expectation, Virginius, clad in mourning, by break of day conducts his daughter, also attired in weeds, attended by some matrons, into the forum, with a considerable body of advocates.
He then began to go round and to solicit individuals; and not only to entreat their aid as a boon to his prayers, but demanded it as due to him: “that he stood daily in the field of battle in defence of their children and wives, nor was there any other man, to whom a greater number of brave and intrepid deeds in war can be ascribed than to him. What availed it, if, whilst the city was still secure, their children would be exposed to suffer the severest hardships which would have to be dreaded if it was taken?” Delivering these observations like one haranguing in an assembly, he solicited them individually. Similar arguments were used by Icilius: the female attendants produced more effect by their silent tears than any language.
With a mind utterly insensible to all this, (such a paroxysm of madness, rather than of love, had perverted his mind,) Appius ascended the tribunal;
and when the claimant began to complain briefly, that justice had not been administered to him on the preceding day through a desire to please the people, before either he could go through with his claim, or an opportunity of reply was afforded to Virginius, Appius interrupts him. The preamble with which he prefaced the sentence, ancient authors may have handed down perhaps with truth; because I no where find any one that was likely (to have been used) on so scandalous a business, it seems, that the naked fact should be stated as being a point which is agreed on, viz.
that he passed a sentence1
consigning her to [p. 217]
slavery. At first all were astounded with amazement at so heinous a proceeding; then silence prevailed for some time. Then when Marcus Claudius proceeded to seize the maiden, the
matrons standing around her, and was received with piteous lamentation of the women, Virginius, menacingly extending his hands towards Appius, says, To Icilius, and not to you, Appius, have I betrothed my daughter, and for matrimony, not prostitution, have I brought her up. Do you wish men to
gratify their lust promiscuously, like cattle and wild beasts? Whether these persons will endure such things, I know not; I hope that those will not who have arms in their hands. When the claimant of the girl was repulsed by the crowd of women and advocates who were standing around her, silence was commanded by the crier.