The consuls elected were Gnaeus Cornelius1
Cossus and (for the second time) Lucius Furius Medullinus.
Never before had the plebs felt so aggrieved that they were not allowed to choose military tribunes. They showed their disappointment, and likewise avenged it, at the election of quaestors, when plebeians were for the first time chosen to that office; though among the four to be elected room was made for one patrician, Caeso Fabius Ambustus.
Three plebeians, Quintus Silius, Publius Aelius, and Publius Pupius, were preferred before young men of the most distinguished families. I find that those who encouraged the people to make so free with their votes were the Icilii.
Three members of that family, a family most hostile to the patricians, had been made plebeian tribunes for that year, in consequence of the many great hopes they had held out to the populace, always more than eager to accept such promises.
These men had declared that they would make no move in their behalf, if even in the election of quaestors —the only election which the senate had left open to both classes —the people could not find sufficient resolution to accomplish what they had so long wished to do and the laws permitted.
And so the plebs felt that they had won a great victory, not estimating the significance of that quaestorship by the limits of the office itself, but feeling that the way to consulships and triumphs was thrown open to new men.
The patricians, on the other hand, were as angry as though they had not merely shared their offices with the plebs but had lost them. They said that if such [p. 435]
things were to be, it was wrong for them to rear2
children, who after being driven out from the places of their forefathers would behold others in possession of their honours, and would be left, without power or authority, to serve no other purpose than to offer up sacrifices, as salii and flamens,3
for the people.
The feelings of both sides were overwrought. The plebs had plucked up courage and they had three very distinguished leaders for the popular cause. The patricians, perceiving that every election where the plebs were free to choose either sort of candidate would be like that of the quaestors, strove to bring about a consular election, which was not yet open to both orders.
The Icilii, on the contrary, maintained that military tribunes should be chosen; it was high time, they said, that the plebs were given their share of honours.