Accordingly some of the junior patricians, being sent to the camp which was at that time on Mount Vecilius, announce to the decemvirs “that by every means in their power they should keep the soldiers from mutinying.”
Where Virginius occasioned greater commotion than he had left behind him in the city. For besides that he was seen coming with a body of near four hundred men, who, fired at the heinous enormity of the occurrence, had accompanied him from the city;
the unsheathed weapon and himself besmeared with blood, attracted to him the entire camp; and the gowns1
seen in the different parts of the camp, had caused the number of people from the city to appear much greater than it really was.
When they asked him what was the matter, in consequence of his weeping he uttered not a word. At length, as soon as the crowd of those running together became still, and silence took place, he related every thing in order as it occurred.
Then extending his hands towards heaven, addressing his fellow soldiers, he begged of them, “not to impute to him that which was the crime of Appius, not to abhor him as the murderer of his children. To him the life of his daughter was dearer than his own, if she had been allowed to live in freedom and chastity.
When he beheld her dragged to prostitution as if a slave, thinking it better that his child should be lost by death than by dishonour, through compassion for her he fell into an appearance of cruelty. Nor would he have survived his daughter, had he not placed hope of avenging her death in the aid of his fellow soldiers.
For hat they too had daughters, sisters, and wives; nor was the lust of Ap- [p. 220]
pius Claudius extinguished with his daughter; but in proportion as it escaped with impunity, so much the more unbridled would it be. That in the calamities of others a warning was given to them to guard against a similar injury.
That for his own part, his wife had been taken from him by fate; his daughter, because she no longer could live in chastity, died an unfortunate but honourable death; that there was no longer in his house an opportunity for Appius's lust; that from any other violence of his he would defend his person with the same spirit with which he vindicated that of his daughter.
That others should take care of themselves and of their children. To Virginius, uttering these words in a loud voice, the multitude responded with a shout,” that they would not be backward, with respect either to his wrongs or their own liberty.
And the gown-men mixing with the crowd of soldiers, both by narrating with sorrow those same circumstances, and by showing how much more shocking they must have appeared when seen than when merely heard, and also by telling them that matters were now desperate at Rome; those also who followed (the persons that accompanied Virginius from Rome) and alleged that Appius, having with difficulty escaped with life, had gone into exile;2
all these individuals so far influenced them that there was a general cry to arms, they snatched up their standards, and set out for Rome.
The decemvirs, being alarmed at the same time both by what they now saw, as well as by those things which they had heard had taken place at Rome, ran about to different parts of the camp to quell the commotion. Whilst they proceeded with mildness no answer was returned to them.
If any of them attempted to exert authority over them, the answer given was, that “they were men and had arms.” They go in a body to the city and post themselves on the Aventine; encouraging the commons, according as each person met them, to reassume their liberty, and elect tribunes of the people;
no other violent expression was heard.
Spurius Oppius holds a meeting of the senate; it is resolved that no harsh proceedings should be adopted, as occasion for the sedition had been given by themselves. Three men of consular rank, Spurius Tarpeius, Caius Julius, Publius Sulpicius, are sent as ambas- [p. 221]
sadors, to inquire, in the name of the senate, by whose orders they had deserted the camp? or what they intended in posting themselves on the Aventine in arms, and in turning away their arms from the enemy and taking their own country?
They were at no loss for an answer; they wanted so ne one to give the answer, there being as yet no certain leader, and individuals not being forward enough to expose themselves to the invidious office. The multitude only called out with one voice, that they should send Lucius Valerius and Marcus Horatius to them: that to them they would give their answer.