Marcus Valerius and Spurius Verginius1
succeeded to the consulship. Affairs were quiet both at home and abroad; but there was a shortage in the corn-supply, due to excessive rains. A law was passed opening up the Aventine to settlement.
The same tribunes of the plebs were returned; and in the following year, when Titus Romilius and Gaius Veturius were consuls, they took occasion to urge the law in all their speeches: They were ashamed, they said, of the futile increase in their numbers, if this measure was to lie disregarded during their own two years of office, precisely as it had done throughout the five preceding years.
Just when this agitation was at its height, there came a disquieting report from Tusculum that the Aequi were in Tusculan territory. Men were ashamed, in view of the recent service of that nation, to delay in sending aid. Both 103 [p. 105]
consuls were dispatched with an army; and finding2
the enemy on their usual ground, Mount Algidus, they there engaged them.
Above seven thousand of the enemy were slain; the rest were put to flight; and immense spoils were taken. These the consuls sold, owing to the impoverished condition of the treasury. Nevertheless, their action made them unpopular with the army, and it also furnished the tribunes with an occasion for impeaching the consuls before the plebs.
Accordingly when they laid down their office and Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Aternius became consuls, they were brought to trial; Romilius by Gaius Calvius Cicero, a plebeian tribune, Veturius by Lucius Alienus, an aedile of the plebs.
Both were condemned, greatly to the indignation of the patricians; Romilius was fined 10,000 asses, Veturius 15,000. And yet this disaster to their predecessors did not diminish the energy of the new consuls; they said that it was possible that they should themselves be condemned, but that it was not possible that the plebs and the tribunes should carry their law.
Then the tribunes, discarding the law, which, in the time it had been before the people, had lost its vitality, began to treat more moderately with the patricians: Let them at last put an end, they said, to these disputes; if the plebeian measure were not agreeable to them, let them permit framers of laws to be appointed jointly from both the plebs and the nobility, that they might propose measures which should be advantageous to both sides, and secure equal liberty.3
The patricians did not reject the principle; but they declared that no one should propose laws unless he were a patrician. Since they were agreed in regard to the laws, and [p. 107]
only differed about the mover, they sent Spurius4
Postumius Albus, Aulus Manlius, and Publius Sulpicius Camerinus on a mission to Athens, with orders to copy the famous laws of Solon, and acquaint themselves with the institutions, customs, and laws of the other Greek states.