Accordingly, the greater part of the people showed signs of relenting, and it was evident, from their decorous and sober attention, that they were on the way to be controlled and won over. Then the tribunes rose and declared that since the senate was now acting soberly, the people in their turn would make such concessions as were fair and honourable. They insisted, however, that Marcius should make answer to the following charges: Could he deny that he had instigated the senate to violate the constitution and abrogate the powers of the people? When summoned to appear before them, had he not refused?
And finally, by insulting and beating the aediles in the forum, had he not done all in his power to incite the citizens to arms and bring about a civil war? They made this demand with a desire either that Marcius should be publicly humiliated, if; contrary to his nature, he curbed his haughty spirit and sued for the favour of the people; or, if he yielded to his natural promptings, that he should do something which would justify their wrath against him and make it implacable. The latter was what they the rather expected, and they rightly estimated the man's character.
For he came and stood before them as one who would defend himself; and the people were quiet and silent in his presence. But when, instead of the more or less deprecatory language expected by his audience, he began not only to employ an offensive boldness of speech, which at last became actual denunciation, but also to show, by the tone of his voice and the cast of his countenance, that his fearlessness was not far removed from disdain and contempt,
then the people was exasperated, and gave evident signs that his words roused their impatience and indignation. Upon this, Sicinius, the boldest of the tribunes, after a brief conference with his colleagues, made formal proclamation that Marcius was condemned to death by the tribunes of the people, and ordered the aediles to take him up to the Tarpeian rock at once, and cast him down the cliff below.
But when the aediles laid hold of his person, it seemed, even to many of the plebeians, a horrible and monstrous act; the patricians, moreover, utterly beside themselves, distressed and horror stricken, rushed with loud cries to his aid. Some of them actually pushed away the officers making the arrest, and got Marcius among themselves;
some stretched out their hands in supplication of the multitude, since words and cries were of no avail amid such disorder and confusion. At last the friends and kindred of the tribunes, perceiving that it was impossible, without slaying many patricians, to lead Marcius away and punish him, persuaded them to remit what was unusual and oppressive in his sentence, not to use violence and put him to death without a trial, but to surrender him and refer his case to the people.
Then Sicinius, becoming calm, asked the patricians what they meant by taking Marcius away from the people when it wished to punish him. But the patricians asked in their turn:
‘What then is your purpose, and what do ye mean, by thus dragging one of the foremost men of Rome, without a trial, to a savage and illegal punishment?’
‘Well then,’ said Sicinius,
‘ye shall not have any such excuse for factious quarrel with the people; for they grant your demand that the man have a trial. And we cite thee, Marcius, to appear before the citizens on the third market-day ensuing, and convince them, if you can, of your innocence, assured that they will decide your case by vote.’