portents occurred this year and, with the view of averting them, the senate passed a decree that special intercessions should be offered for two days.
The wine and incense were provided at the public cost, and both men and women attended the religious functions in great numbers.
This time of special observance was rendered memorable by a quarrel which broke out amongst the matrons in the chapel of the Patrician Pudicitia, which is in the Forum Boarium, against the round temple of Hercules.
Verginia, the daughter of Aulus Verginius, a patrician, had married the plebeian consul, L. Volumnius, and the matrons excluded her from their sacred rites because she had married outside the patriciate. This led to a brief altercation, which, as the women became excited, soon blazed up into a storm of passion.
Verginia protested with perfect truth that she entered the temple of Pudicitia as a patrician and a pure woman, the wife of one man to whom she had been betrothed as a virgin, and she had nothing to be ashamed of in her husband or in his honourable career and the offices which he had held.
The effect of her high-spirited language was considerably enhanced by her subsequent action. In the Vicus Longus, where she lived, she shut off a portion of her house, sufficient to form a moderately sized chapel, and set up an altar there.
She then called the plebeian matrons together and told them how unjustly she had been treated by the patrician ladies. ‘I am dedicating,’ she said,‘this altar to the Plebeian Pudicitia, and I earnestly exhort you as matrons to show the same
spirit of emulation on the score of chastity that the men of this City display with regard to courage, so that this altar may, if possible, have the reputation of being honoured with a holier observance and by purer worshippers than that of the patricians.’
The ritual and ceremonial practised at this altar was almost identical with that at the older one; no matron was allowed to sacrifice there whose moral character was not well attested, and who had had more than one husband.
Afterwards it was polluted by the presence of women of every kind, not matrons only, and finally passed into oblivion.
The curule aediles, Cnaeus and Quintus Ogulnius, brought up several money-lenders for trial this year.
The proportion of their fines which was paid into the treasury was devoted to various public objects; the wooden thresholds of the Capitol were replaced by bronze, silver vessels were made for the three tables in the shrine of Jupiter, and a statue of the god himself, seated in a four-horsed chariot, was set up on the roof.
They also placed near the Ficus Ruminalis2
a group representing the Founders of the City as infants being suckled by the she-wolf. The street leading from the Porta Capena to the temple of Mars was paved, under their instructions, with stone slabs.
Some graziers were also prosecuted for exceeding the number of cattle allowed them on the public land, and the plebeian aediles, L. Aelius Paetus and C. Fulvius Curvus, spent the money derived from their fines on public games and a set of golden bowls to be placed in the temple of Ceres.