In the three hundred and first year after Rome was built, the form of the government was a second time changed, the supreme power being transferred from consuls to decem- [p. 198]
virs, as it had passed before from kings to consuls.
The change was less remarkable, because not of long duration; for the joyous commencement of that government became too licentious. So much the sooner did the matter fall, and (the usage) was recurred to, that the name and authority of consuls was committed to two persons.
The decemvirs appointed were, Appius Claudius, Titus Genucius, Publius Sestius, Lucius Veturius, Caius Julius, Aulus Manlius, Servius Sulpicius, Publius Curiatius, Titus Romilius, Spurius Postumius.
On Claudius and Genucius, because they had been elected consuls for that year, the honour was conferred in compensation for the honour (of the consulate); and on Sestius, one of the consuls of the former year, because he had proposed that matter to the senate against the will of his colleague.
Next to these were considered the three ambassadors who had gone to Athens; at the same time that the honour might serve as a recompence for so distant an embassy; at the same time they considered that persons acquainted with the foreign laws would be of use in digesting the new code of regulations.
Other persons made up the number. They say that persons advanced in years were appointed by the last suffrages, in order that they might oppose with less warmth the opinions of others.
The direction of the entire government was rested in Appius through the favour of the commons, and he had assumed a demeanour so new, that from a severe and harsh reviler of the people, he became suddenly a protector of the commons, and a candidate for popular favour.
They administered justice to the people one every tenth day. On that day the twelve fasces attended the prefect of justice; one beadle attended each of his nine colleagues, and in the singular harmony among themselves, which unanimity might sometimes prove prejudicial to private persons, the strictest equity was shown to others. It will suffice to adduce a proof of their moderation by instancing one matter.
Though they had been appointed without (the privilege of) appeal, yet a dead body having been found buried in the house of Publius Sestius, a man of patrician rank, and this
having been brought forward in an assembly, in a matter equally clear and atrocious, Caius Julius, a decemvir, appointed a day of trial for Sestius, and appeared before the people as prosecutor (in a matter) of which he was legally a judge; and relinquished his right, so [p. 199]
that he might add what had been taken from the power of the office to the liberty of the people.