At Rome, though the plebeians were so far1
victorious as to have the election they preferred, yet in the outcome of the election the patricians won the day.
For the military tribunes with consular authority were all three, contrary to the universal expectation, chosen from the patricians, viz., Gaius Julius lulus, Publius Cornelius Cossus, and Gaius Servilius Ahala.
The patricians are said to have employed a ruse (and the Icilii taxed them with it at the time), in that they mixed a rabble of unworthy competitors with the deserving, and the disgust which the notorious turpitude of certain of them provoked turned the people against the plebeian candidates.
Then came a rumour that the Volsci and Aequi, whether encouraged by their defence of the citadel of Carventum or angered by the loss of the garrison at Verrugo, had risen in prodigious strength;
that the Antiates were the head and front of the war; that their envoys had gone about among the tribes of both races, upbraiding their cowardice in having hidden behind their walls the year before and allowed the Romans to pillage their lands and overwhelm the garrison at Verrugo.
They would presently be sending out, not merely armed expeditions across their borders, but colonies too; and not only, they said, had the Romans divided up their possessions amongst themselves, but they had even taken Ferentinum from them and bestowed it on the Hernici.
These words aroused indignation, and a number of young men were enlisted wherever the envoys went. So the forces of all the tribes drew together at Antium, where they encamped and waited for the enemy.
When these things had been reported at Rome,2
amid excitement even greater than the situation warranted, the senate at once had recourse to its final counsel in emergencies, and ordered the appointment of a dictator.
It is said that Julius and Cornelius resented this, and that a very bitter discussion took place.
In vain the leading senators complained that the military tribunes were not amenable to senatorial control, and eventually appealed to the tribunes of the plebs and reminded them that their authority had in a similar case operated to restrain the consuls. But the tribunes of the plebs were delighted with the want of harmony amongst the senators.
They could give no assistance, they said, to men who did not regard them as citizens, or even as human beings.
If some day offices were thrown open to all, and they were given a share in the government, they would then see to it that no proud magistrate thwarted the decrees of the senate.
Meanwhile let the patricians live with no regard for laws and magistracies, and let the tribunes act as they saw fit.