But when the assembly for electing decemvirs was proclaimed for the third market-day, so strong
a flame of ambition blazed forth, that the first men of the state began to canvass individuals, (through fear, I suppose, lest the posses- sion of such high authority might become accessible to persons not sufficiently worthy, if the post were left unoccupied [p. 200]
by themselves,) suppliantly soliciting for an honour, which had been opposed by them with all their might, from that commons with whom they had so often contended.
Their dignity now lowered to the risk of a contest, at such an age, and after passing through such honours, stimulated the exertions of Appius Claudius.
You would not know whether to reckon him among the decemvirs or the candidates; he resembled more closely one canvassing for the office than one invested with it; he aspersed the nobility, extolled every most insignificant and humble candidate;
surrounded by the Duilii and Icilii who had been tribunes, he bustled about the forum, through their means he recommended himself to the commons; until his colleagues even, who till then had been extremely devoted to him, turned their eyes on him, wondering what he meant.
It was evident to them, that there was no sincerity in it; “that certainly such affability amid such pride would not be for nothing. That this excessive lowering of himself, and putting himself on a level with private citizens, was not so much the conduct to be expected from one hastening to go out of office, as of one seeking the means of continuing that office.”
Not daring openly to oppose his wishes, they set about baffling his ardour by humouring it. They by common consent confer on him, as being the youngest, the office of presiding at the elections.
This was an artifice, that he might not appoint himself; which no one ever did, except the tribunes of the people, and that too with the very worst precedent.
He, however, declaring that with the favour of fortune he would preside at the elections, seized on the (intended) obstacle1
as a happy occasion: and having by a coalition foiled the two Quintii, Capitolinus and Cincinnatus, and his own uncle, Caius Claudius, a man most stedfast in the interest of the nobility, and
other citizens of the same eminence, he appoints as decemvirs men by no means equal in rank of life: himself in the first instance, which proceeding honourable men
disapproved so much the more, as no one had imagined that he would have the daring to act so. With him were elected Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis, Marcus Sergius, Lucius Minutius, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, Quintus [p. 201]
Pœtelius, Titus Antonius Merenda, Caeso Duilius, Spurius Oppius Cornicen, Manius Rabuleius.2