While this prompt justice, as pure as though derived from an oracle, was being meted out impartially by the decemvirs to the highest and the lowest, they were also busily engaged in framing laws.
Men's expectations were running high, when they set up ten tables, and summoning the people [p. 113]
to assemble, commanded them —with a prayer that1
the result might be prosperous, favourable, and fortunate, for the commonwealth, for themselves, and for their children —to go and read the proposed statutes.
They themselves, they said, so far as the capacities of ten men could forecast the event, had equalized the rights of all, both high and low; but there was greater efficacy in the capacities and counsels of many.
Let them consider each single point in their own minds, then discuss it with their fellows, and lastly state in public what excess or shortcoming there was in the several articles;
the Roman People should have only such laws as their unanimity might fairly be considered not only to have passed, but to have proposed.
When it appeared that the laws had been sufficiently amended, in the light of the opinions that men expressed concerning each separate section, the centuriate comitia met and adopted the Laws of the Ten Tables; which even now, in this great welter of statutes piled one upon another, are the fountain-head of all public and private law.
Afterwards the opinion was general that there lacked two tables, by the addition of which a corpus, so to speak, of all the Roman law could be rounded out. The hope of filling this lack made people desirous, when election day drew near, of choosing decemvirs again.
The plebs, besides the fact that they hated the name of consul quite as much as that of king, had already ceased to require even the help of the tribunes, since the decemvirs yielded to one another when an appeal was taken.2