in the four hundredth year from the founding of Rome1
and the thirty-fifth from its recovery from the Gauls, depriving the plebs of the consulship they had enjoyed for ten years.
Empulum was won that year from the Tiburtes without any memorable battle being fought; whether, as some writers state, the campaign was conducted there under the auspices of the two consuls; or whether the lands belonging to Tarquinii were ravaged by the consul Sulpicius at the same time that Valerius led his legions against the Tiburtes.
The consuls had a harder struggle at home, with the plebs and the tribunes.
They held that honour as well as courage required of them that, even as two patricians had received the consulship, so they should hand it over to successors who were both patricians:
indeed they ought rather to withdraw from the consulship altogether, that it might at once become a plebeian magistracy, or else retain undivided that control which they had inherited entire from their fathers.
On the other side, the plebeians were asking angrily why they lived, why they were counted a part of the state, if they were unable by their collective efforts to maintain what the courage of two men, Lucius Sextius and Gaius Licinius, had won for them.
It were better to put up with kings or decemvirs, or —if possible —a
more stern type of government than theirs, rather than see the consuls both patricians and have no turns at obeying and commanding, while a part of the people thought themselves established forever in authority and the commons born for no other end than servitude.
There was no lack of tribunes to promote disturbances, but where all were so excited, to begin with, the leaders were hardly to [p. 419]
After the people had several times2
gone down to the Campus Martius3
to no purpose, and many meeting days had been spent in rioting, the persistence of the consuls finally prevailed. The plebs, thereupon, in a burst of resentment, followed their tribunes, who cried out that liberty was lost and that they ought now to leave not only the voting-field but the City, too, which was taken captive and enslaved by the tyranny of the patricians.
The consuls, being deserted by half the people, nevertheless, despite the paucity of voters, completed the election. The successful candidates were both patricians, Marcus Fabius Ambustus (for the third time) and Titus Quinctius. In certain annals I find Marcus Popilius given as consul instead of Titus Quinctius.