Nothing, it is said, was ever welcomed by [p. 453]
the plebs with such rejoicing. Crowds gathered at B.C. 406 the Curia and men grasped the hands of the senators as they came out, saying that they were rightly called Fathers, and confessing that they had brought it to pass that no one, so long as he retained a particle of strength, would grudge his life's blood to so generous a country.
Not only were they pleased at the advantage that their property would at least not diminish while their bodies were impressed for the service of the state, but the voluntary character of the offer, which had never been mooted by plebeian tribunes nor extorted by any words of their own, multiplied their satisfaction and increased their gratitude.
The tribunes of the plebs were the only persons who did not partake in the general joy and good feeling of both orders. They said that the measure would neither be so agreeable to the Fathers nor so favourable to the whole body of the citizens as the latter believed; it was a plan which at first sight had promised to be better than experience would prove it.
For where, they asked, could the money be got together, save by imposing a tribute on the people? The senators had therefore been generous at other men's expense; and even though everyone else should submit to it, those who had already earned their discharge would not endure that others should serve on better terms than they had themselves enjoyed, and that the same men who had paid their own expenses should also contribute to the expenses of others.
By these arguments they influenced a part of the plebs. Finally, when the assessment had already been proclaimed, the tribunes even announced that they would protect anybody who should refuse to contribute to a tax for paying the soldiers.
The [p. 455]
Fathers had made a good beginning and persevered1
in supporting it. They were themselves the first to contribute, and since there was as yet no silver coinage,2
some of them brought uncoined bronze in waggons to the treasury, and even made a display of their contributing.
After the senators had paid most faithfully, according to their rating, the chief men of the plebs, friends of the nobles, began, as had been agreed, to bring in their quota.
When the crowd saw that these men were applauded by the patricians and were looked upon as good citizens by those of military age, they quickly rejected the protection of the tribunes and vied with one another who should be the first to pay.
And on the law being passed declaring war on the Veientes, an army consisting in great part of volunteers marched, under command of the new military tribunes, upon that city.