Such words as these, the product of a lofty spirit and genuine feeling, and falling upon the ears of a people profoundly moved and fully aroused to the speaker's support, no adversary of Tiberius could successfully withstand. Abandoning therefore all counter-pleading, they addressed themselves to Marcus Octavius, one of the popular tribunes, a young man of sober character, discreet, and an intimate companion of Tiberius.
On this account Octavius at first tried to hold himself aloof, out of regard for Tiberius; but he was forced from his position, as it were, by the prayers and supplications of many influential men, so that he set himself in opposition to Tiberius and staved off the passage of the law. Now, the decisive power is in the hands of any tribune who interposes his veto; for the wishes of the majority avail nothing if one tribune is in opposition.
Incensed at this procedure, Tiberius withdrew his considerate law, and introduced this time one which was more agreeable to the multitude and more severe against the wrongdoers, since it simply ordered them to vacate without compensation the land which they had acquired in violation of the earlier laws.
Almost every day, therefore, there were forensic contests between Tiberius and Octavius, in which, as we are told, although both strove together with the utmost earnestness and rivalry, neither abused the other or let fall a single word about the other which anger made unseemly. For not only
‘in Bacchic revelries,’ as it appears, but also in the exercise of rivalry and wrath, a noble nature and a sound training restrain and regulate the mind.
Moreover, when Tiberius observed that Octavius himself was amenable to the law as a large holder of the public land, he begged him to remit his opposition, promising to pay him the value of the land out of his own means, although these were not splendid. But Octavius would not consent to this, and therefore Tiberius issued an edict forbidding all the other magistrates to transact any public business until such time as the vote should be cast either for or against his law.
He also put his private seal upon the temple of Saturn, in order that the quaestors might not take any money from its treasury or pay any into it, and he made proclamation that a penalty would be imposed upon such praetors as disobeyed, so that all magistrates grew fearful and ceased performing their several functions.
Thereupon the men of property put on the garb of mourning and went about the forum in pitiful and lowly guise; but in secret they plotted against the life of Tiberius and tried to raise a band of assassins to take him off, so that Tiberius on his part[mdash ]and everybody knew it[mdash ]wore a concealed short-sword such as brigands use (the name for it is