It was not long before the people forgot1
the anger they had felt against Cassius. The inherent attractiveness of the agrarian legislation appealed to them on its own account, when its author had been removed, and their desire for it was enhanced by the meanness of the Fathers, who after the defeat in that year of the Volsci and the Aequi defrauded the soldiers of their booty.
Whatever was taken from the enemy Fabius sold and placed the proceeds in the public treasury. The Fabian name was hateful to the plebs, on the last consul's account; nevertheless the patricians succeeded in procuring the election of Caeso Fabius to that office, along with Lucius Aemilius.
This increased the rancour of the plebeians, and by their seditions at home they brought about a foreign war. The war then caused domestic strife to be interrupted, while with one mind and purpose patricians and plebeians met the rebellious Volsci and Aequi and, led by Aemilius, defeated them in a successful action.
Yet more of the enemy perished in flight than in the battle, so relentlessly did the cavalry pursue their routed forces.
Castor's temple was dedicated the same year, on the fifteenth of July. It had been vowed during the Latin war by Postumius, the dictator. His son, being made duumvir for this special purpose, dedicated it.2
The desires of the plebs were this year again excited by the charms of the land-law. The tribunes of the plebs endeavoured to recommend their democratic office by a democratic law, while the senators, who thought there was frenzy enough and to spare in the populace, without rewarding it, shuddered at [p. 359]
the thought of land-grants and encouragements to3
The most strenuous of leaders were at hand for the senatorial opposition, in the persons of the consuls. Their party was therefore victorious and not only won an immediate success but, besides, elected as consuls for the approaching year Marcus Fabius, Caeso's brother, and one whom, on account of the prosecution of Spurius Cassius, the people hated even more, namely, Lucius Valerius.
This year also there was a conflict with the tribunes. Nothing came of the legislation, and its supporters fell into contempt, from boasting of a measure which they could not carry through. The Fabii were thence-forward held in great repute, after their three successive consulships, which had all without interruption been subjected to the proof of struggles with the tribunes; accordingly the office, as if well invested, was permitted to remain some time in that family.4
War then broke out with Veii, and the Volsci revolted. But for foreign wars there was almost a superabundance of resources, and men misused them in quarrelling amongst themselves.
To increase the general anxiety which was now felt, portents implying the anger of the gods were of almost daily occurrence in the City and the country. For this expression of divine wrath no other reason was alleged by the soothsayers, when they had enquired into it both officially and privately, sometimes by inspecting entrails and sometimes by observing the flight of birds, than the failure duly to observe the rites of religion.
These alarms at length resulted in the condemnation of Oppia, a Vestal virgin, for unchastity, and her punishment.