Another atrocious deed follows in the city, originating in lust, attended with results not less tragical than that deed which drove the Tarquins from the city and the throne through the injured chastity and violent death of Lucretia: so that the decemvirs not only had the same end as the kings had, but the same cause also of losing their power. Appius Claudius was seized with a criminal passion for violating the person of a young woman of plebeian condition.
Lucius Virginius, the girl's father, held an honourable rank among the centurions at Algidum, a man of exemplary good conduct both at home and in the service.
His wife had been educated in a similar manner, as also were their children. He had betrothed his daughter to Lucius Icilius, who had been a tribune, a man of spirit and of approved zeal in the interest of the people.
This young woman, in the bloom of youth, [p. 212]
distinguished for beauty, Appius, burning with desire, at- tempted to seduce by bribes and promises; and when he perceived that all the avenues (to the possession of her) were barred by modesty, he turned his thoughts to cruel and tyrannical violence.
He instructed a dependent of his, Marcus Claudius, to claim the girl as his slave, and not to yield to those who might demand her interim retention of liberty; considering that, because the girl's father was absent, there was an opportunity for committing the injury.
The tool of the decemvir's lust laid hands on the girl as she was coming into the forum (for there in the sheds the literary schools were held); calling her “the daughter of his slave and a slave herself,” he commanded her to follow him; that he would force her away if she demurred.
The girl being stupified with terror, a crowd collects at the cries of the girl's nurse, who besought the protection of the citizens. The popular names of her father, Virginius, and of her spouse, Icilius, are in the mouths of every one.
Their regard for them gains over their acquaintances, whilst the heinousness of the proceeding gains over the crowd. She was now safe from violence, when the claimant says, “that there was no occasion for raising a mob; that he was proceeding by law, not by force.”
He cites the girl into court. Those who stood by her advising her to follow him, they now reached the tribunal of Appius. The claimant rehearses the farce well known to the judge, as being the author of the plot, "that a girl born in his house, and clandestinely transferred from thence to the house of Virginius, had been fathered on the latter.
That he stated a thing ascertained by certain evidence, and would prove it to the satisfaction even of Virginius himself, whom the principal portion of that loss would concern. That it was but just that in the interim the girl should accompany her master.
The advocates for Virginia, after they had urged that Virginius was absent on business of the state, that he would be here in two days if word were sent to him, that it was unfair that in his absence he should run any risk regarding his children, demand that he adjourn the whole matter till the arrival of the father;
that he should allow the claim for her interim liberty according to the law passed by himself, and not allow a maiden of ripe age to encounter the risk of her reputation before that of her liberty. [p. 213]