The plebs elected in their absence Sextus1
Tempanius, Marcus Asellius, Tiberius Antistius, and Tiberius Spurillius to be plebeian tribunes. These were men whom the cavalry had also chosen, at the instance of Tempanius, to act as centurions over them.2
The senate, feeling that the hatred of Sempronius made the title of consul offensive, ordered the election of military tribunes with consular powers. The successful candidates were Lucius Manlius Capitolinus, Quintus Antonius Merenda, Lucius Papirius Mugillanus.
At the very beginning of the year Lucius Hortensius, tribune of the plebs, brought an [p. 393]
action against Gaius Sempronius, consul of the year3
before. The tribune's four colleagues besought him in full sight of the Roman People not to persecute their general, in whom nothing could be reckoned amiss save his ill-fortune;
but this Hortensius would not brook, regarding it as a test of his perseverance and persuaded that the defendant was relying not on the entreaties of the tribunes, which were thrown out merely to preserve appearances, but on their veto.
And so, turning now to Sempronius, he demanded to be told where the well-known patrician spirit was, and where the courage that placed its confident reliance upon innocence; was it in the shadow of the tribunate that a former consul had found a hiding-place?
And again, addressing his colleagues, he asked, “But what do you mean to do, if I persist in prosecuting the defendant?
Will you rob the people of their rights and overthrow the authority of the tribunes?” When they replied that the authority of the Roman People was supreme over Sempronius and all other men, and that they neither desired nor were able to annul the people's judgment;
but that if their entreaties in behalf of their commander, who stood in the relation of a parent to them, should prove ineffectual, they would put on mourning with him, then Hortensius declared, “The Roman plebs shall not see its tribunes clad in mourning. Gaius Sempronius may go free, for me, since his command has gained him this, to be so beloved by his soldiers.”
Nor was the loyalty of the four tribunes more pleasing to both plebs and senators than was the disposition of Hortensius to yield so readily to reasonable entreaties.
Fortune now ceased to favour the Aequi,4
who had [p. 395]
accepted the dubious victory of the Volsci as their5