“Finally I would ask, is it you, or the Roman People, who have supreme authority? Did the banishment of the kings bring you dominion, or to all men equal liberty?
Ought the Roman People to be permitted, if it so desire, to enact a law; or shall you, as each proposal is brought up, proclaim a levy by way of penalty, and so soon as I, the tribune, begin to summon the tribes to vote, shall you, the consul, at once administer the oath to those of military age and march them out to camp, with threats against the plebs and with threats against the tribune?
How would it be if you had not twice1
already proved how little those threats of yours are worth against the unanimous will of the plebs? ' I suppose it was consideration for our good that made you refrain from fighting? Or was this rather the reason there was no strife, because the stronger side was also the more moderate?
Neither will there be any struggle now, Quirites; they will always test your courage; but will never put your strength to the proof.
And [p. 275]
so the commons are ready, consuls, for those wars2
you deal in, be they feigned or genuine, if you give them back their right of intermarriage, and make this a single state at last; if you enable them to coalesce, to unite, to merge with you in domestic alliances; if the hope of attaining honours is held out to strenuous men and brave; if they are granted a share in the partnership of government; if, in the enjoyment of equal liberty, they are allowed to govern and obey in turn, with the annual change of magistrates.
If anyone shall prevent these reforms, you may talk of wars, and multiply them in the telling; but nobody will give in his name, nobody will take up arms, nobody will fight for haughty masters with whom he has no association in the honours of the state nor in the marriages of private life.”