The next year there were military1
tribunes with consular powers, namely Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Lucius Furius Medullinus, Lucius Horatius Barbatus.
The Veientes were granted a truce of twenty years, and the Aequi one of three, though they had asked for a longer one. There was a respite also from civil disturbances.
The following year was noteworthy neither for foreign war nor dissension at home, but gained celebrity from the games which had been vowed [p. 373]
during the war and were splendidly carried out by2
the military tribunes and attended by a great concourse of neighbouring peoples.
The tribunes with consular authority were Appius Claudius Crassus, Spurius Nautius Rutulus, Lucius Sergius Fidenas, and Sextus Julius Iulus. The spectacle was rendered the more agreeable to the visitors by the courtesy which their hosts had united in a resolution to extend to them.
After the games seditious speeches were made by the plebeian tribunes, who berated the populace because, in their besotted admiration of the men they hated, they kept themselves in perpetual servitude, and not only dared not aspire to claim participation in the consulship, but even in the matter of choosing military tribunes —an
election open alike to patricians and plebeians —took no thought either for themselves or for their friends.
Let them cease therefore to wonder why no one busied himself for the good of the plebs; toil was bestowed and danger risked, they said, in causes which held out hopes of emolument and honour; there was nothing men would not attempt if those who made great efforts were afforded the prospect of great rewards;
but that some one plebeian tribune should rush blindly into a struggle where the risk was enormous and the reward was nothing, and in consequence of which he might be certain that the patricians, against whom he would be striving, would pursue him with relentless animosity, and that the plebs, for whom he would have fought, would not add the least tittle to his honours, was a thing to be neither expected nor demanded. Great hearts were begotten of great honours.
No plebeian would despise himself when plebeians should cease [p. 375]
to be despised. It was high time they made trial in3
one or two cases, to see whether there were some plebeian fit to hold high office, or whether it were almost a portent and a miracle that there should exist any brave and energetic man of plebeian origin.
By exerting their utmost force they had carried the point that military tribunes with consular powers might be chosen even from the plebs. Men whose worth had been proven at home and in the field had stood for the office; during the first years they had been buffeted about, rejected, and laughed at by the patricians; finally, they had ceased to expose themselves to insult.
They could see no reason, they said, why they should not even repeal a statute which authorized something that would never come; there would surely be less shame in the injustice of the law than in being passed over on account of their own unworthiness.