Against this plea Verginius asserted that Appius Claudius alone was beyond the pale of the laws and of the rights of citizens and men.
He bade his hearers look on the tribunal, the stronghold of all crimes, where that man, as perpetual decemvir, deadly foe to their fortunes, their persons, and their lives, threatening them all with rods and axes, despising gods and men, backed by executioners instead of lictors, had began to turn his thoughts from rapine and murder to lust;
and, in full sight of the Roman People, had torn a free maiden from her father's arms, as though she had been a captive taken in war, and bestowed her as a gift upon his pimp and client; —the
tribunal where, by his tyrannical decree and wicked judgments, he had armed a father's right hand against his daughter; where, as they were lifting up the body of the dying girl, he had [p. 193]
ordered her betrothed and her uncle to be haled to1
prison —more moved by the disappointing of his pleasure than by her death. For Appius too had been built that prison which he was wont to call the home of the Roman plebs.
Accordingly, though he should again and repeatedly appeal, he would himself again and repeatedly challenge him to prove before a referee that he had not adjudged a free citizen to the custody of one who claimed her as a slave. Should he refuse to go before a referee, he bade him be led to gaol, as one found guilty.
Though none raised his voice in disapproval, there were yet profound misgivings on the part of the plebs when he was cast into prison, since they saw in the punishment of so great a man a sign that their own liberty was already grown excessive. The tribune appointed a day for the continuance of the trial.
Meanwhile from the Latins and the Hernici came envoys to congratulate the Romans upon the harmony subsisting between the patricians and the plebs; and to commemorate it they brought a gift for Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the Capitol. This was a golden crown, of no great weight, for their states were not rich, and they observed the worship of the gods with piety rather than magnificence.
From these same envoy came the information that the Aequi and the Volsci were making strenuous preparations for war.
The consuls were therefore bidden to divide the commands between them. To Horatius fell the campaign against the Sabines; to Valerius that against the Aequi.2
When they had proclaimed a levy for these wars, the plebs showed so much good-will [p. 195]
that not only the juniors but also a great number3
of volunteers who had served their time presented themselves for enrolment, with the result that not alone in numbers but in the quality of the troops as well, owing to the admixture of veterans, the army was stronger than usual.
Before they left the City, the consuls had the decemviral laws, which are known as the Twelve Tables, engraved on bronze, and set them up in a public place. Some authors say that the aediles, acting under orders from the tribunes, performed this service.