Camillus, distinguished by his prudence and bravery in the Volscian war, by his success in the Tusculan expedition, in both by his extraordinary moderation and forbearance towards his colleague, went out of office;
the military tribunes for the following year being Lucius and Publius Valerius, Lucius a fifth, Publius a third time, and Caius Sergius a third time, Lucius Menenius a second time, Spurius Papirius, and Servius Cornelius Maluginensis.
The year required censors also, chiefly on account of the uncertain representations regarding the debt; the tribunes of the commons exaggerating the amount of it on account of the odium of the thing, whilst it was underrated by those whose interest it was that the difficulty of procuring payment should appear to depend rather on [the want of] integrity, than of ability in the debtors.
The censors appointed were Caius Sulpicius Camerinus, Spurius Postumius Regillensis; and the matter having been commenced was interrupted by the death of Postumius, because it was not conformable to religion that a substitute should be colleague to a censor.
Accordingly after Sulpicius had resigned his office, other censors having been appointed under some defect, they did not discharge the office; that a third set should be appointed was not allowed, as though the gods did not admit a censorship for that year.
The tribunes denied that such mockery of the commons was to be tolerated; “that the senate were averse to the public tablets, the witnesses of each man's property, because they were unwilling that the amount of the debt should be seen, which would clearly show that one part of the state was depressed by the other; whilst in the mean time the commons, oppressed with debt, were exposed to one enemy after another.
Wars were now sought out in every direction without distinction. Troops were marched from Antium to Satricum, from Satricum to Velitrae, and thence to Tusculum. The Latins, Hernicians, and the Praenestines were now threatened with hostilities, more through a hatred of their fellow-citizens than of the enemy, in order to wear out the commons under arms, [p. 426]
and not suffer them to breathe in the city, or to reflect on their liberty at their leisure, or to stand in an assembly where they may hear a tribune's voice discussing concerning the reduction of interest and the termination of other grievances.
But if the commons had a spirit mindful of the liberty of their fathers, that they would neither suffer any Roman citizen to be assigned to a creditor on account of debt, nor a levy to be held; until, the debts being examined, and some method adopted for lessening them, each man should know what was his own, and what another's; whether his person was still free to him, or that also was due to the stocks.”
The price held out for sedition soon raised it: for both several were made over to creditors, and on account of the rumour of the Praenestine war, the senate decreed that new legions should be levied; both which measures began to be obstructed by tribunitian interposition and the combined efforts of the commons.
For neither the tribunes suffered those consigned to their creditors to be thrown into prison, nor did the young men give in their names. While the senate felt less pressing anxiety about enforcing the laws regarding the lending of money than about the levy; for now it was announced that the enemy, having marched from Praeneste, had encamped in the Gabinian territory;
meanwhile this very report rather aroused the tribunes of the commons to the struggle commenced than deterred them; nor did any thing else suffice to allay the discontent in the city, but the approach of hostilities to the very walls.