The ambassadors being dismissed, Virginius reminds the soldiers “that a little time before they had been embarrassed in a matter of no very great difficulty, because the multitude was without a head; and that the answer given, though not inexpedient, was the result rather of an accidental concurrence than of a concerted plan.
His opinion was, that ten persons be elected, who should preside in the management of their affairs, and, in the style of military dignity, that they should be called tribunes of the soldiers.”
When that honour was offered to himself in the first instance, he replied, “Reserve for an occasion more favourable to you and to me those your kind opinions of me.
My daughter being unavenged, neither allows any honour to be satisfactory to me, nor in the disturbed state of things is it useful that those should be at your head who are most obnoxious to party malice.
If there will be any use of me, such
use will be derived not in a less degree from me in a private station.
They then elect military tribunes ten in number. Nor was the army among the Sabines inactive. There also, at the instance of Icilius and Numitorius, a secession from the decemvirs took place, the commotion of men's minds on recollecting the murder of Siccius being not less than that, which the recent account of the barbarous attempt made on the maiden to gratify lust had enkindled.
When Icilius heard that tribunes of the soldiers were elected on Mount Aventine, lest the election-assembly in the city might follow the precedent of the military assembly,
by electing the same persons tribunes of the commons, being well versed in popular intrigues and having an eye to that office, he also takes care, before they proceeded to the city, that the same number be elected by his own party with an equal power.
They entered the city through the [p. 222]
Colline gate in military array, and proceeded in a body to the Aventine through the middle of the city. There, joined to the other army, they commissioned the twenty tribunes of the soldiers to select two out of their number, who should hold the command in chief.
They choose Marcus Oppius and Sextus Manilius. The patricians, alarmed for the general safety, though there was a meeting every day, waste the time in wrangling more frequently than in deliberation.
The murder of Siccius, the lust of Appius, and the disgraces incurred in war were urged as charges against the decemvirs. It was resolved that Valerius and Horatius should proceed to the Aventine. They refused to go on any other conditions, than that the decemvirs should lay down the badges of that office, which had expired the year before.
The decemvirs, complaining that they were now being degraded, stated that they would not resign their office, until those laws were passed on account of which they had been appointed.”