The principal senators were of opinion, that whether so ignominious a defeat had been sustained through the misconduct or the misfortune of the commanders, “the regular time of the elections should not be waited for, but that new military tribunes should be created immediately, who should enter into office on the calends of October.”
Whilst they were proceeding to intimate their assent to this opinion, the other military tribunes offered no opposition.
But Sergius and Virginius, on whose account it was evident that the senate were dissatisfied with the magistrate of that year, at first deprecated the ignominy, then protested against the decree of the senate; they declared that they would not retire from office before the ides of December, the usual day for persons entering on magisterial duties.
Upon this the tribunes of the plebeians, whilst in the general harmony and in the prosperous state of public affairs they had unwillingly kept silence, suddenly becoming confident, began to threaten the military tribunes, that unless they conformed to the order of the senate, they would order them to be thrown into prison.
Then Caius Servilius Ahala, a military tribune, observed, “With respect to you, tribunes of the commons, and your threats, [p. 334]
I would with pleasure put it to the test, how there is not more of authority in the latter than of spirit in yourselves.
But it is impious to strive against the authority of the senate. Wherefore do you cease to seek amid our quarrels for an opportunity of doing mischief; and my colleagues will either do that which the senate thinks fit, or if they shall persist with too much pertinacity, I will immediately nominate a dictator, who will oblige them to retire from office.”
When this speech was approved with general consent, and the patricians rejoiced, that without the terrors of the tribunitian office, another and a superior power had been discovered to coerce the magistrates, overcome
by the universal consent, they held the elections of military tribunes, who were to commence their office on the calends of October, and before that day they retired from office.