In the year three hundred and ten from B.C. 444 the founding of Rome, military tribunes for the first time took office in place of consuls. Their names were Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Lucius Atilius,1
and Titus Cloelius. During their administration domestic harmony insured peace abroad, as well.
(Some say that on account of a war with Veii, which broke out in addition to the war with the Aequi and Volsci and the revolt of the men of Ardea, two consuls were unable to cope with so many wars at once, and therefore three military tribunes were created. These writers say nothing of the [p. 281]
promulgation of a law about the election of consuls2
from the plebs, but record that the three tribunes enjoyed the authority and insignia3
Still, the power of that magistracy was not yet upon a firm footing, for three months after they had taken up their office they laid it down, the augurs having decreed that there had been a flaw in their election, because Gaius Curtius, who had presided over the assembly, had not properly selected the ground for the tent.4
Ambassadors from Ardea came to Rome, complaining of the injustice done them, and with such fairness that it was evident that if they
were granted redress, through the restoration of their land, they would abide by the treaty and remain friendly. The senate replied that the judgment of the people could not be rescinded by them, not only because they had no precedent or authority for such action, but also because they had regard to the harmony between the orders.
If the Ardeates would bide their time and leave the senate to decide upon a remedy for the injury done them, the day would come when they would be glad that they had controlled their anger, and they would learn that the senators had been equally concerned that no wrong should be done them and that what had been done should be speedily redressed.
So the ambassadors, having said that they would refer the whole matter to their people, were courteously dismissed.
The patricians, since the state was without any curule magistrate, met and chose an interrex.
A dispute whether consuls or military tribunes should be appointed kept the state in an interregnum for [p. 283]
several days. The interrex and the senate held out5
for the election of consuls; the plebeian tribunes and the plebs were for military tribunes.
Victory rested with the senators, not only because the plebs gave up the idle contest whether they should confer this honour or that upon the patricians, but also because the leaders of the plebs preferred an election in which they would not be reckoned candidates to one in which they would be passed over as unworthy.
The tribunes, too, of the plebs relinquished the unavailing contest in favour of the leaders of the patricians. Titus Quinctius Barbatus, as interrex, declared the election of Lucius Papirius Mugillanus and Lucius Sempronius Atratinus.
In their consulship the treaty with the Ardeates was renewed; and in this lies the proof that these men were consuls that year, although their names are found neither in the ancient annals6
nor in the lists of magistrates;7
I suppose that, because there were military tribunes in the beginning of the year, the consuls who were elected in their place were passed over as if the tribunes had been in power throughout the year.
Licinius Macer testifies that the names of these consuls were given both in the treaty with Ardea and in the Linen Rolls in the temple of Moneta.8
Things were quiet both abroad and at home, despite the numerous alarms which neighbouring states had caused.