THE affairs, civil and military, of the Roman people, henceforward free, their annual magistrates, and the sovereignty of the laws, more powerful than that of men, I shall now detail.
—The haughty insolence of the late king had caused this liberty to be the more welcome: for the former kings reigned in such a manner that they all in succession might be not undeservedly set down as founders of the parts, at least of the city, which they added as new residences for the population augmented by themselves.
Nor is there a [p. 80]
doubt but that the very same Brutus who earned so much glory for expelling this haughty monarch, would have done so to the greatest injury of the public weal, if, through an over-hasty desire of liberty, he had wrested the kingdom from any of the preceding kings.
For what would have been the consequence if that rabble of shepherds and strangers, fugitives from their own countries, having, under the protection of an inviolable asylum, found liberty, or at least impunity, uncontrolled by the dread of regal authority, had begun to be distracted by tribunician storms, and to engage
in contests with the fathers in a strange city, before the pledges of wives and children, and love of the very soil, to which it requires a length of time to become habituated, had united their affections.
Their affairs not yet matured would have been destroyed by discord, which the tranquil moderation of the government so cherished, and by proper nourishment brought to such perfection, that, their strength being now developed, they were able to produce the wholesome fruits of liberty.
But the origin of liberty you may date from this period, rather because the consular authority was made annual, than that any diminution was made from the kingly prerogative.
The first consuls had all their privileges and ensigns of authority, only care was taken that the terror might not appear doubled, by both having the fasces at the same time. Brutus was, with the consent of his colleague, first attended by the fasces, who had not been a more zealous assertor of liberty than he was afterwards its guardian.
First of all he bound over the people, whilst still enraptured with their newly-acquired liberty, by an oath that they would suffer no one to be king in Rome, lest afterwards they might be perverted by the importunities or bribes of the royal family.
Next in order, that the fulness of the house might produce more of strength in the senate, he filled up the number of the senators, diminished by the king's murders, to the amount of three hundred, having elected the principal men of the equestrian rank; and from thence it is said the custom was derived of summoning into the senate both those who were patres and those who were conscripti.1
Forsooth they styled those who were elected into the new senate Conscripti. It is wonderful how [p. 81]
much that contributed to the concord of the state, and to attach the affection of the commons to the patricians.