These differences gave rise to disgraceful contentions —for the Fathers had won over some of the plebeian tribunes1
to their opinion —and
the only thing that compelled the plebs to stay their hands was this, that as often as they raised a shout, in order to begin a riot, the leaders of the senate were the first to confront the mob, bidding them visit blows, [p. 87]
wounds, and death on them.
The grey hairs of2
these men, their distinctions, and their honours, they shrank from outraging, and shame thwarted their rage in all similar attempts.
Camillus harangued the people constantly, and in all places.
It was no wonder, he said, that the citizens had gone mad, since, bound though they were to carry out their vow, they were more concerned about everything else than about the discharge of their obligation.
He would say nothing of their penny contribution —a truer name for it than tithe —since in this regard each man had bound himself as an individual, and the state was freed;
but there was one thing his conscience would not suffer him to pass over in silence; to wit, that the tithe should be defined as consisting of that part only of the booty which was movable; and that nothing should be said of the captured city and its territory, which were likewise included in the vow.
Unable to agree on this point, the senate referred it to the pontiffs, who decided, after consulting with Camillus, that so far as these things had belonged to the Veientes before the vow was made, and had subsequently come into the possession of the Roman People, a tithe thereof was sacred to Apollo. Thus the city and the land came into the estimate.
Money was drawn from the treasury, and the tribunes of the soldiers with consular rank were directed to purchase gold with it; and there being not enough of this metal, the matrons held meetings to consider the need, and binding themselves by a common resolution to supply the tribunes with gold, brought in all their ornaments to the treasury.
No act was ever more acceptable to the senate, and to [p. 89]
honour the matrons for their generosity, it is said to3
have voted that they might drive in four-wheeled carriages to festivals and games, and in two-wheeled cars on holy and working days.
When the gold received from each had been appraised, in order that the moneys might be repaid, it was determined to make a golden bowl and carry it to Delphi as an offering to Apollo.
No sooner had they eased their minds of the vow, than the tribunes of the commons began again their agitation, inflaming the populace against all the nobles, but especially against Camillus, whom they charged with having reduced to naught the spoils of Veii, by devoting them to the state and to religion.
If any of the leaders were absent, they were fiercely denounced; being present they outfaced their angry critics and shamed them into silence.
As soon as the people saw that the question would be carried over from that year, they worked for the re-election of the tribunes of the plebs who were backing the measure;4
and the patricians exerted themselves to do the same for its opponents. So, for the most part, the same tribunes were returned to office.