In the following year Publicola was consul again, for the fourth time, when there was expectation of a war within the Sabines and Latins combined.1
At the same time also a sort of superstitious terror seized upon the city because all the women who were pregnant were delivered of imperfect offspring, and all births were premature. Wherefore by direction of the Sibylline books, Publicola made propitiatory sacrifices to Pluto, and renewed certain games that had been recommended by Apollo, and after he had thus made the city more cheerful in its mopes and expectations from the gods, he turned his attention to what it feared from men. For their enemies were plainly making great preparations and a powerful league against them.
Now there was among the Sabines one Appius Clausus,2
a man whose wealth made him powerful, as his personal prowess made him illustrious, but who was most eminent for his lofty character and for his great eloquence. He could not, however, escape the fate of all great men, but was an object of jealous hate, and when he tried to stop the war, those who hated him charged him within trying to increase the power of Rome, with a view to making himself tyrant and master of his own country.
Perceiving that the multitude gave a ready ear to these stories, and that he himself was obnoxious to the war party and the military, he feared the issue, but with a large and powerful coterie of friends and kinsmen to defend him, continued his opposition. This made the Sabines put off and delay the war.
Publicola, accordingly, making it his business not only to know about these matters, but also to foment and promote the faction, kept some of his followers employed in bringing to Clausus from him such messages as this:
‘Publicola thinks thee too worthy and just a man to inflict any evil upon thy fellow citizens in self-defence, even though thou art wronged by them. But if thou wishest, for thine own safety, to change thine allegiance and flee from those who hate thee, he will receive thee with public and private honours which are worthy of thine own excellence and the splendour of Rome.’
On repeated consideration of the matter, this course seemed to Clausus the best that was open to him; he therefore summoned his friends, who in like manner persuaded many more, to join him, and taking five thousand families from their homes, wives and children included, the most peaceful folk among the Sabines, of gentle and sedate lives, he led them to Rome. Publicola knew beforehand of their coming, and gave them an eager and a kindly welcome, admitting them to all rights and privileges.
For he at once incorporated the families in the Roman state, and gave each one two acres of land on the river Anio. To Clausus, however, he gave twenty-five acres of land, and enrolled him among the senators. This was the beginning of a political power which he used so wisely that he mounted to the highest dignity and acquired great influence. The Claudian family, which is descended from him, is no less illustrious than any in Rome.