“But why do I argue thus, as if the cause of the patricians, respecting the priesthood, were untouched? and as if we were not already in possession of one sacerdotal office, of the highest class?
We see plebeian decemvirs, for performing sacrifices, interpreters of the Sibylline prophecies, and of the fates [p. 637]
of the nation; we also see them presidents of Apollo's festival, and of other religious performances.
Neither was any injustice done to the patricians, when, to the two commissioners for performing sacrifices, an additional number was joined, in favour of the plebeians; nor is there now, when a tribune, a man of courage and activity, wishes to add five places of augurs, and four of pontiffs, to which plebeians may be nominated;
not, Appius, with intent to expel you from your places; but, that men of plebeian rank may assist you, in the management of divine affairs, with the same zeal with which they assist you in matters of human concernment.
Blush not, Appius, at having a man your colleague in the priesthood, whom you might have a colleague in the censorship or consulship, whose master of the horse you yourself may be, when he is dictator, as well as dictator when he is master of the horse.
A Sabine adventurer, the first origin of your nobility, either Attus Clausus, or Appius Claudius, which you will, the ancient patricians of those days admitted into their number: do not then, on your part, disdain to admit us into the number of priests.
We bring with us numerous honours; all those honours, indeed, which have rendered your party so proud.
Lucius Sextius was the first consul chosen out of the plebeians; Caius Licinius Stolo, the first master of the horse; Caius Marcius Rutilus, the first dictator, and likewise censor; Quintus Publilius Philo, the first praetor.
On all occasions was heard a repetition of the same arguments; that the right of auspices was vested in you; that ye alone had the rights of ancestry; that ye alone were legally entitled to the supreme command, and the auspices both in peace and war.
The supreme command has hitherto been, and will continue to be, equally prosperous in plebeian hands as in patrician. Have ye never heard it said, that the first created patricians were not men sent down from heaven, but such as could cite their fathers, that is, nothing more than free born.
I can now cite my fa- ther, a consul; and my son will be able to cite a grandfather. Citizens, there is nothing else in it, than that we should never obtain any thing without a refusal. The patricians wish only for a dispute; nor do they care what issue their disputes may have.
For my part, be it advantageous, happy, and prosperous to you and to the commonwealth, I am of opinion that this law should receive your sanction.” [p. 638]