The next day, after disposing guards at1
several points he went down into the Forum, where the novel and surprising sight drew upon him the attention of the plebs.
The followers of Maelius and their leader himself perceived that it was against them that the force of that high authority was aimed; while those who knew nothing of the plans for setting up a king asked what outbreak or what sudden war had called for the majesty of a dictator or for Quinctius (now past his eightieth year) to direct the state.
Then Servilius, the master of the horse, being sent by the dictator to Maelius, said: “The dictator summons you.” When Maelius, trembling, asked what he wanted, Servilius replied that he must stand his trial and clear himself of a charge which Minucius had lodged against him with the senate.
Then Maelius drew back into the crowd of his retainers, and at first, glancing this way and that, attempted to avoid the issue; but finally, when the attendant, being so commanded by the master of the horse, would have led him away, he was torn from his grasp by the bystanders and fled, calling on the Roman plebs to protect him, declaring that he was overthrown by
a plot of the patricians because he had acted kindly by the commons, and begging them to help him in his extremity and not permit him to be murdered before their eyes.
While [p. 307]
he was screaming out these appeals, Servilius Ahala2
overtook and slew him; then, bespattered with his blood and guarded by a company of young nobles, he returned to the dictator and reported that Maelius, having been summoned to appear before him, had repulsed the attendant and was rousing up the populace when he received the punishment he had deserved.
Whereat the dictator exclaimed, “Well done, Gaius Servilius; you have delivered the commonwealth!”