That matter passed off much more quietly than any one expected.
Therefore when word was brought by certain traders, that aid was refused to the Veientians, and that they were bid to prosecute with their own strength a war entered into on their own separate views, and not to seek out persons as sharers in their distresses, to whom they had not communicated their hopes when flourishing;
the dictator, that his appointment might not be in vain, all opportunity of acquiring military glory being now taken from him, desirous of performing during peace some work which might serve as a memorial of his dictatorship, sets about limiting the censorship, either judging its powers excessive, or disapproving of the duration rather than the extent of the office.
Accordingly, having summoned a meeting, he says “that the immortal gods had taken on themselves that the public affairs should be managed externally, and that the general security [p. 277]
should be insured; that with respect to what was to be done within the walls, he would provide for the liberty of the Ro- man people. But that the most effectual guarding of it was, that offices of great power should not be of long continuance; and that a limit of time should be set to those to which a limit of jurisdiction could not be set.
That other offices were an- nual, that the censorship was quinquennial; that it was a grievance to be subject to the same individuals for such a number of years in a considerable part of the affairs of life. That he would propose a law, that the censorship should not last longer than a year and half.”
Amid the great approbation of the people he passed the law on the following day, and says, “that you may know, Romans, in reality, how little pleasing to me are offices of long duration, I resign the dictatorship.” Having laid down his own office, and set a limit to the office of others, he was escorted home with the congratulation and great good will of the people.
The censors resenting Mamercus' conduct for his having diminished the duration of one of the offices of the Roman people, degraded him from his tribe, and increasing his taxes eight-fold, disfranchised1
him. They say that he bore this with great magnanimity as he considered the cause of the disgrace, rather than the disgrace itself; that the principal patricians also, though they had been averse to the curtailing the privileges of the censorship, were much displeased at this instance of censorial severity; inasmuch as each saw that he would be longer and more frequently subjected to the censors, than he should hold the office of censor. Certain it is that such indignation is said to
have arisen on the part of the people, that violence could not be kept off from the censors through the influence of any person except of Mamercus himself.