When by these expostulations they rather irritated the dictator against themselves, than appeased his anger against the master of the horse, the lieutenants-general were ordered to go down from the tribunal;
and after several vain attempts were made to procure silence by means of a crier, the noise and tumult being so great that neither the voice of the dictator himself, nor that of his apparitors, could be heard; night, as in the case of a battle, put an end to the contest.
The master of the horse was ordered to attend on the day following;
but when all assured him that Papirius, being agitated and exasperated in the course of the present contention, would proceed against him with greater violence, he fled privately from the camp to Rome; where, by the advice of his father, Marcus Fabius, who had been three times consul, and likewise dictator, he immediately called a meeting of the senate.
While he was strenuously complaining before the fathers of the rage and injustice of the dictator, on a sudden was heard the noise of lictors before the senate-house, clearing the way, and Papirius himself arrived, full of resentment, having followed, with a guard of light horse, as soon as he heard that the other had quitted the camp.
The contention then began anew, and the dictator ordered Fabius to be seized.
Where, when his unrelenting spirit persisted in its purpose, notwith- [p. 548]
standing the united intercessions of the principal patricians, and of the whole senate, Fabius, the father, then said, “Since neither the authority of the senate has any weight with you; nor my age, which you wish to render childless; nor the noble birth and merit of a master of the horse, nominated by yourself;
nor prayers which have often mitigated the rage of an enemy, and which appease the wrath of the gods; I call upon the tribunes of the commons for support, and appeal to the people; and since you decline the judgment of your own army, as well as of the senate, I call you before a judge who must certainly be allowed, though no other should, to possess more power and authority than yourself, though dictator.
I shall see whether you will submit to an appeal, to which Tullus Hostilius, a Roman king, submitted.” They proceeded directly from the senate-house to the assembly;
where, being arrived, the dictator attended by few, the master of the horse by all the people of the first rank in a body, Papirius commanded him to be taken from the rostrum to the lower ground; his father, following him, said, “You do well in ordering us to be brought down to a place where even as private persons we have liberty of speech.”
At first, instead of regular speeches, nothing but altercation was heard; at length, the indignation of old Fabius, and the strength
of his voice, got the better of noise, while he reproached Papirius with arrogance and cruelty. “He himself,” he said, “had been dictator at Rome; and no man, not even the lowest plebeian, or centurion, or soldier, had been outraged by him.
But Papirius sought for victory and triumph over a Roman commander, as over the generals of the enemy. What an immense difference between the moderation of the ancients, and modern oppression and cruelty.
Quinctius Cincinnatus when dictator exercised no further severity on Lucius Minucius the consul, although rescued by him from a siege, than leaving him at the head of the army, in the quality of lieutenant-general, instead of consul.
Marcus Furius Camillus, in the case of Lucius Furius, who, in contempt of his great age and authority, had fought a battle with a most disgraceful result, not only restrained his anger at the time so as to write no unfavourable representation of his conduct to the people or the senate;
but after returning home, when the patricians gave him a power of electing from among his colleagues whoever he might approve as an associ- [p. 549]
ate with himself in the command, chose that very man in pre- ference to all the other consular tribunes.
Nay, that not even the resentment of the people, with whom lay the supreme power in all cases, was ever exercised with greater severity towards those who, through rashness and ignorance, had occasioned the loss of armies, than the fining them in a sum of money.
Until that day, a capital prosecution for ill conduct in war had never been instituted against any commander, but now generals of the Roman people when victorious, and meriting the most honourable triumphs, are threatened with rods and axes; a treatment which would not have been deemed allow- able, even towards those who had been defeated by an enemy.
What would his son have to suffer, if he had occasioned the loss of the army? if he had been routed, put to flight, and driven out of his camp? To what greater length could his re- sentment and violence be stretched, than to scourge him, and put him to death?
How was it consistent with reason, that through the means of Quintus Fabius, the state should be filled with joy, exulting in victory, and occupied in thanks- givings and congratulations; while at the same time, he who had given occasion to the temples of the gods being thrown open, their altars yet smoking with sacrifices, and
loaded with honours and offerings, should be stripped naked, and torn with stripes in the sight of the Roman people; within view of the Capitol and citadel, and of those gods not in vain invoked in two different battles?
With what temper would the army which had conquered under his conduct and auspices have borne it? What mourning would there be in the Roman camp! what joy among their enemies!”
This speech he ac- companied with an abundant flow of tears; uniting reproaches and complaints, imploring the aid both of gods and men, and warmly embracing his son.