and the decemvir, crazed with lust, declared that he knew, not only from the abusive words uttered by Icilius the day before and the violence of Verginius, which he could prove by the testimony of the Roman People, but also from definite information, that all through the night meetings had been held in the City to promote sedition.
Accordingly, having been aware of the approaching struggle, he had come down into the Forum with armed men, not that he might do violence to any peaceable citizen, but to coerce, conformably to the dignity of his office, those who would disturb the nation's peace.
“You will therefore,” he cried, “best be quiet! Go, lictor, remove the mob and open a way for the master [p. 159]
to seize his slave!” When he had wrathfully1
thundered out these words, the crowd parted spontaneously and left the girl standing there, a prey to villainy.
Then Verginius, seeing no help anywhere, said, “I ask you, Appius, first to pardon a father's grief if I have somewhat harshly inveighed against you; and then to suffer me to question the nurse here, in the maiden's presence, what all this means, that if I have been falsely called a father, I may go away with a less troubled spirit.”
Permission being granted, he led his daughter and the nurse apart, to the booths near the shrine of Cloacina, now known as the “New Booths,” and there, snatching a knife from a butcher, he exclaimed, “Thus, my daughter, in the only way I can, do I assert your freedom!” He then stabbed her to the heart, and, looking back to the tribunal, cried, “'Tis you, Appius, and your life I devote to destruction with this blood!” The shout which broke forth at the dreadful deed roused Appius, and he ordered Verginius to be seized.
But Verginius made a passage for himself with his knife wherever he came, and was also protected by a crowd of men who attached themselves to him, and so reached the City gate. Icilius and Numitorius lifted up the lifeless body and showed it to the people, bewailing the crime of Appius, the girl's unhappy beauty, and the necessity that had constrained her father.
After them came the matrons crying aloud, “Was it on these terms that children were brought into the world?
Were these the rewards of chastity?” —with such other complaints as are prompted at a time like this by a woman's anguish, and are so much the more pitiful as their lack of self-control [p. 161]
makes them the more give way to grief.
and especially Icilius, spoke only of the tribunician power; of the right of appeal to the people which had been taken from them; and of their resentment at the nation's wrongs.