Caius Claudius, who, detesting the crimes of the decemvirs and, above all, incensed at the arrogant conduct of his brother's son, had retired to Regillum, the country of his forefathers, having returned, though now advanced in years, to deprecate the dangers impending over that man, whose vices he had shunned, now clad in a mourning garment, with the members of his family and his clients, went about the forum, and solicited the interest of the citizens individually, “That they would not cast such a stain on the Claudian family, as to consider them deserving of imprisonment and chains;
that a man whose image would be most highly honoured with posterity, the framer of their laws and the founder of Roman jurisprudence, lay in chains amongst nightly thieves and robbers.
(He begged) that they would turn away their minds from resentment for a while to examination and reflection; and rather pardon one at the intercession of so many members of the Claudian family, than through a hatred of one spurn the entreaties of many;
that he himself also paid this tribute to the family and the name; nor had he been reconciled to him, whose unfortunate situation he wished to relieve; that by fortitude liberty had been recovered; by clemency the harmony of the several orders might be established.”
Some there were whom he influenced more by his warm attachment to his family than for the sake of him for whom he interceded. But Virginius begged that “they would rather pity him and his daughter; and that they would listen to the entreaties, not of the Claudian family, which had assumed a sort of sovereignty over the commons, but those of the near friends of Virginia and of the three tribunes; who having been created for the aid of the commons, were now themselves imploring the protection and aid of the commons.”
These tears appeared more just. Accordingly, all hope being cut off, Appius put a period to his life, before the day arrived appointed for his [p. 231]
Soon after, Spurius Oppius, the next object of public indignation, as having been in the city when the unjust decision was given by his colleague, was arraigned by Publius Numitorius.
However, an act of injustice committed by Oppius brought more odium on him, than the not preventing one (in the case of Appius). A witness was brought forward, who, after reckoning up twenty campaigns, after having been particularly honoured eight different times, and wearing these honours in the sight of the Roman people, tore open his garment and exhibited his back torn with stripes, asking no other conditions but “that, if the accused could name any one guilty act of his, he might, though a private individual, once more repeat his severity on him.”
Oppius was also thrown into prison, where he put a period to his life before the day of trial. The tribunes confiscated the property of Appius and Oppius. Their colleagues left their homes to go into exile; their property was confiscated.
Marcus Claudius, the claimant of Virginia, being condemned on the day of his trial, was discharged and went away into exile to Tibur, Virginius himself remitting the penalty as far as it affected his life;
and the shade of Virginia, more fortunate after death than when living, after having roamed through so many families in quest of vengeance, at length rested in peace, no guilty person being left unpunished.