When this saying of Postumius reached the1
troops, it stirred up much greater indignation in the camp: did the man who had fraudulently cut off his soldiers from their spoils also threaten them with punishment?
And while they murmured openly, the quaestor Publius Sestius, thinking that the mutiny could be quelled with the same violence which had occasioned it, sent a lictor to arrest a certain brawling soldier;
whereupon shouts and objurgations broke forth, and Sestius was hit with a stone and retreated from the scuffle, while the man who had wounded him thundered after him that the quaestor [p. 423]
had got what the general had threatened to give his2
Being summoned to deal with this disturbance, Postumius aggravated everything by his harsh inquisitions and savage punishments. Finally his anger got beyond all bounds, and when the shout of those whom he had ordered to be put to death under a hurdle3
had caused a crowd to gather, he ran down in a frenzy of passion from his tribunal to those who would have interrupted the execution.
There, when the lictors and centurions assailed the mob and tried to drive them back, on this side and on that, resentment ran so high that a military tribune was overwhelmed with a volley of stones from his own soldiers.
This dreadful deed having been announced in Rome, the tribunes of the soldiers wished to institute a senatorial inquiry into the death of their colleague, but the plebeian tribunes interposed their vetoes.
The dispute was closely connected with another struggle. The senators had become apprehensive lest the plebs, what with their fear of investigations and their indignation, should elect military tribunes from their own class; they therefore used all their efforts to have consuls chosen.
Since the plebeian tribunes would not allow the resolution of the senate4
to go through, and also vetoed the election of consuls, the state reverted to an interregnum. The victory then rested with the senators.