In the meantime grain came to Rome, a great part of it bought in Italy, but an equal amount sent as a present from Syracuse, where Gelo was tyrant. Most of the people were consequently in great hope, expecting that the city would be delivered both from its scarcity and its discord.
The senate, accordingly, was convened at once, and the people, flocking about the senate-house, awaited the result of its deliberations. They expected that the market-price for grain would now be moderate, and that what had been sent as a present would be distributed gratis.
For there were some in the senate who so advised that body.
But Marcius rose in his place and vehemently attacked those who favoured the multitude, calling them demagogues and betrayers of the aristocracy, and declaring that they were nourishing, to their own harm, the evil seeds of boldness and insolence which had been sown among the rabble; these they should have choked when they first sprang up, and not have strengthened the people by such a powerful magistracy as the tribunate. But now their body was formidable, because it got everything that it desired, allowed no constraint upon its will, and refused to obey the consuls, but had their own leaders in anarchy, whom they styled their rulers.
To sit there, moreover, voting such a people largesses and supplies, like those Greeks where democracy is most extreme, he said was nothing more nor less than maintaining them in their disobedience, to the common destruction of all.
‘For they surely will not say that they are getting these as a grateful return for the military services which they omitted, and the secessions by which they renounced their country, and the calumnies against the senate which they have countenanced. They will rather be confident that your fears drive you to subserviency and flattery when you make them these gifts and concessions, and will set no limit to their disobedience, nor cease from their quarrels and seditions.
Such action on our part would therefore be sheer madness; but if we are wise, we shall take their tribunate away from them, for it makes the consulship null and void, and divides the city. This is no longer one, as before, but has been cut in two, so that we can never grow together again, or be of one mind, or cease afflicting and confounding one another.’