Then, through an interrex, they elected to the consulship Lucius Valerius and Marcus Horatius, who at once assumed office. Their administration was favourable to the people, without in any way wronging the patricians, though not without offending [p. 183]
for whatever was done to protect the1
liberty of the plebs they regarded as a diminution of their own strength.
To begin with, since it was virtually an undecided question whether the patricians were legally bound by plebiscites, they carried a statute in the centuriate comitia enacting that what the plebs should order in the tribal organization should be binding on the people —a law which provided the rogations of the tribunes with a very sharp weapon.
Next they not only restored a consular law about the appeal, the unique defence of liberty, which had been overthrown by the decemviral power, but they also safeguarded it for the future by the solemn enactment of a new law, that no one should declare the
election of any magistrate without appeal, and that he who should so declare might be put to death without offence to law or religion, and that such a homicide should not be held a capital crime.
And having sufficiently strengthened the plebs, by means of the appeal on the one hand and the help of the tribunes on the other, they revived, in the interest of the tribunes themselves, the principle of their sacrosanctity (which was a thing that had now come to be well-nigh forgotten) by restoring certain long-neglected ceremonies;
and they rendered those magistrates inviolate, not merely on the score of religion but also by a statute, solemnly enacting that he who should hurt the tribunes of the plebs, the aediles,2
or the decemviral judges3
should forfeit his head to Jupiter, and that his possessions should be sold at the temple of Ceres, Liber, and Libera.
Expounders of the law deny that any one is sacrosanct by virtue of this statute, but maintain that [p. 185]
the man who has injured any of these officials is4
solemnly forfeited to Jupiter;
hence the aedile may be arrested and imprisoned by the greater magistrates, an act which, though it be unlawful —for he is thereby injured who, according to this statute, may not be injured, —is nevertheless a proof that the aedile is not regarded as sacrosanct;
whereas the tribunes are sacrosanct in consequence of the ancient oath taken by the plebs, when they first created this magistracy.5
There were some who taught that by this same Horatian law the consuls also were protected, and the praetors, inasmuch as they were created under the same auspices as the consuls; for the consul was called “judge.”
But this interpretation is refuted by the fact that it was not yet the custom in those days for the consul to be called “judge,” but “praetor.” Such were the consular laws.
The practice was also instituted by the same consuls that the decrees of the senate should be delivered to the aediles of the plebs at the temple of Ceres. Up to that time they were wont to be suppressed or falsified, at the pleasure of the consuls.
Marcus Duillius, the tribune of the plebs, then proposed to the plebs, and they so decreed, that whosoever should leave the plebs without tribunes and whosoever should declare the election of a magistrate without appeal should be scourged and beheaded.
All these measures, though they were passed against the will of the patricians, were yet not opposed by them, [p. 187]
since, so far, no one person had been singled out6