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PUBLIC punishment was formerly inflicted, not only upon crimes, but even upon arrogant language; so necessary did men think it to maintain the dignity of Roman conduct inviolable. For the daughter of the celebrated Appius Caecus, when leaving the plays of [p. 233] which she had been a spectator, was jostled by the crowd of people that surrounded her, flocking together from all sides. When she had extricated herself, complaining that she had been roughly handled, she added: “What, pray, would have become of me, and how much more should I have been crowded and pressed upon, had not my brother Publius Claudius lost his fleet in the sea-fight and with it a vast number of citizens? 1 Surely I should have lost my life, overwhelmed by a still greater mass of people. How I wish,” said she, “that my brother might come to life again, take another fleet to Sicily, and destroy that crowd which has just knocked poor me about.” Because of such wicked and arrogant words, Gaius Fundanius and Tiberius Sempronius, the plebeian aediles, 2 imposed a fine upon the woman of twenty-five thousand pounds of full-weight bronze. 3 Ateius Capito, in his commentary On Public Trials, says 4 that this happened in the first Punic war, in the consulship of Fabius Licinus and Otacilius Crassus. 5
1 In 249 B.C. He was warned not to fight by the refusal of the sacred chickens to eat; but he threw them overboard, saying that they might drink, since they would not eat. See Suet. Tib. ii. 2.
2 The two plebeian aediles were first appointed with the tribunes of the commons in 494 B.C. (see xvii. 21. 11), and the designation plebei or plebi was perhaps not added until the appointment of two curule aediles in 388 B.C. They were assistants to the tribunes, but also had the right of independent action, as here. Julius Caesar added two aediles ceriales; Suet. Jul. xli. 1.
3 Aes gravis or aes libralis refers to the old coinage, when the as was equal to a pound of copper or bronze.
4 Fr. 2, Huschke; 2 Bremer (ii, p. 284).
5 246 B.C.
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