This victory of the tribunes and people was well nigh terminating in an extravagance of a by no means salutary tendency, a conspiracy being formed among the tribunes to have the same tribunes re-elected, and in order that their ambition might be the less conspicuous, to continue their office to the consuls.
They pleaded, as a cause, the combination of the patricians by which the privileges of the commons were attempted to be undermined by the affronts thrown upon the consuls.
What would be the consequence, before the laws are yet firmly established, if consuls should through their factions attack the new tribunes. For that Horatii an Valerii would not always be consuls, who would postpone their own interest to the liberty of the people.
By some concurrence of circumstances, useful at the time, it fell by lot to Marcus Duilius above any one else to preside at the elections, a man of prudence, and who perceived the storm of public odium that was hanging over them from the continuance of their office.
And when he stated that he would take no no- [p. 238]
tice of the former tribunes, and his colleagues strenuously insisted that he should allow the tribes to be at liberty to vote, or should give up the office of presiding at the elections to his colleagues, who would hold the election according to law rather than according to the pleasure of the patricians;
a contention being now excited, when Duilius had sent for the consuls to his seat and asked them what they contemplated doing with respect to the consular elections, and they answered that they would appoint new consuls, having found popular supporters of a measure by no means popular, he proceeded with them into the assembly.
Where, when the consuls, being brought forward before the people, and asked, whether if the Roman people, mindful of their liberty recovered at home through them, mindful also of their military services, should again elect them consuls, what they would do, made no change in their sentiments;
he held the election, after eulogizing the consuls, because they persevered to the last in being unlike the decemvirs; and five tribunes of the people being elected, when, through the zealous exertions of the nine tribunes who openly pushed their canvass, the other candidates could not make up the required number of tribes, he dismissed the assembly; nor did he hold one after for the purpose of an election.
He said that he had fulfilled the law, which without any where specifying the number of tribunes, only enacted that tribunes should be left; and recommended that colleagues be chosen by those who had been elected.
And he recited the terms of the law, in which (it is said,) “If I shall propose ten tribunes of the commons, if you elect this day less than ten tribunes of the people, then that those whom they may have chosen as colleagues for themselves be legitimate tribunes of the people, by the same law as those whom you have this day elected tribunes of the people.”
When Duilius persevered to the last, stating that the republic could not have fifteen tribunes of the people, after baffling the ambition of his colleagues, he resigned his office, being equally approved by the patricians and people.