After this year, which the moderation of the1
tribunes had made a quiet one, came the plebeian tribuneship of Lucius Icilius, when Quintus Fabius Ambustus and Gaius Furius Paculus were consuls.
While Icilius, at the very outset of the year, was endeavouring to stir up sedition by the promulgation of agrarian laws, as
if it had been the appointed task of his name and family, a pestilence broke out, which, though it was more threatening than fatal, diverted men's thoughts from the Forum and political conflicts to their homes and the care of the sick, and is thought to have been less hurtful than the sedition would have been.
The state had escaped with very few deaths, considering the great number of those who had fallen ill, when the year of pestilence was succeeded, in the consulship of Marcus Papirius Atratinus and Gaius Nautius Rutulus, by a scarcity of corn, owing to the neglect of tillage usual at such times.
Indeed the famine would have been more baneful than the disease, had they not supplemented the supply of corn by dispatching emissaries to all the peoples round about who dwelt on the Tuscan sea or by the Tiber, to purchase it.
The Samnites who held Capua and Cumae insolently refused to permit the envoys to trade with them, but the Sicilian tyrants,2
on the contrary, lent them generous assistance; and the largest supplies of all were brought down the Tiber, with the hearty goodwill of the Etruscans.
The consuls experienced a lack of men in the afflicted City, and, being unable to find more than one senator for an embassy, were obliged to add [p. 429]
two knights to each.
With the exception of the3
disease and the shortage of corn, there was no internal or foreign trouble during these two years. But no sooner had these anxieties departed, than there came an outbreak of all the ills which were wont to harass the state, domestic quarrels and war abroad.