The younger senators were about to force [p. 137]
this motion through on a division, when Valerius and1
Horatius, in a second and more impassioned outburst, demanded that they be permitted to speak about the state of the nation. They would address the people, they said, if they were restrained by a faction from speaking in the senate; for neither could private citizens prevent them, whether in the senate-house or in an assembly, nor would they yield to the emblems of a fictitious authority.
Thereupon Appius, thinking the moment was at hand when, unless he opposed their violence with equal boldness, his
authority was doomed, cried out, “It will be safer not to utter a word except on the subject of debate!” And when Valerius asserted that he would not be silenced by a mere citizen, he sent a lictor to arrest him.
Valerius was imploring the citizens for help, from the threshold of the Curia, when Lucius Cornelius, throwing his arms about Appius, and feigning to be concerned for the other man,2
stopped the quarrel. At his request Valerius was permitted to say what he wished. But liberty went no further than speech; the decemvirs made good their design.
Even the ex-consuls and the elder senators, in consequence of their lingering hatred of the tribunician power, which they thought the plebs regretted much more keenly than they did the authority of the consuls, almost preferred that at some later time the decemvirs should voluntarily abdicate than that hatred of them should lead to another rising of the plebs.
If gentle measures should restore the government to the consuls, without any popular outcry, they might, either through the intervention of wars, or through the moderation of the consuls in the exercise of their power, bring the plebeians to forget the tribunes.
The senators permitted in silence the proclamation3
of a levy. The young men answered to their names, since the authority of the decemvirs was without appeal. When the legions were enrolled, the decemvirs settled among themselves who ought to go to the front and who command the armies.
Chief among the ten were Quintus Fabius and Appius Claudius. The war at home seemed more important than that abroad. The violence of Appius was, they thought, more adapted to quell disturbances in the City; while Fabius was of a character deficient in steady rectitude rather than actively bad.
For this man, once pre-eminent in civil and in military affairs, had been so altered by the decemvirate and by his colleagues that he chose rather to be like Appius than like himself. To him was intrusted the war in the Sabine country, and Manius Rabuleius and Quintus Poetelius were given him as colleagues.
Marcus Cornelius was sent to Mount Algidus, with Lucius Minucius, Titus Antonius, Caeso Duillius, and Marcus Sergius. Spurius Oppius they assigned to Appius Claudius, to help him in looking out for the City; and they gave them the same powers as had been exercised by the entire board.