The election of tribunes was first held. There were chosen tribunes with consular power, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus a third time, Lucius Furius Medullinus a second time, Marcus Manlius, Aulus Sempronius Atratinus.
On the last-named tribune presiding at the election of quaestors, and among several other plebeians a son of Antistius, a plebeian tribune, and a brother of Sextus Pompilius, also a tribune of the commons, becoming candidates, neither the power nor interest of the latter at all availed so as to prevent those, whose fathers and grandfathers they had seen consuls, from being preferred for their high birth.
All the tribunes of the commons became enraged, above all Pompilius and Antistius were incensed at the rejection of their relatives.
" What could this mean? that neither through their own kindnesses, nor in consequence of the injurious treatment of the patricians, nor even through the natural desire of making use of their new right, as that is now allowed which was not allowed before, was any individual of the commons elected if not a military tribune, not even a quaestor.
That the prayers of a father in behalf of a son, those of one brother in behalf of another, had been of no avail, though proceeding from tribunes of the people, a sacrosanct power created for the support of liberty. There must have been some fraud in the matter, and Aulus Sempronius must have used more of artifice at the elections than was compatible with honour.
They complained that by the unfairness of his conduct their friends had been kept out of office. Accordingly as no attack could be made on him, secured by his innocence and by the office he then held, they turned their resentment against Caius Sempronius, uncle to Atratinus; and, with the aid of their colleague Marcus Cornelius, they entered a prosecution against him on account of the disgrace sustained in the Volscian war.
By the same tribunes mention was frequently made in the senate concerning the division of the lands, (which scheme Caius Sempronius had always most vigorously opposed,) they supposing, as was really the case, that the accused, should he give up the question, would become less valued among the patricians, or by persevering up
to the period of trial he would give offence to the commons.
He preferred to expose himself to the torrent of popular prejudice, and to injure his own cause, than to be wanting to the public cause; and he stood firm in the same sentiment, “that no largess should be made, which was sure to turn to the benefit of the three tribunes; that it was not land was sought for the people, but odium for him.
That he too would undergo that storm with a determined mind; nor should either himself, nor any other citizen, be of so much consequence to the senate, that in showing tenderness to an individual, a public injury may be done.” When the day of trial came, he, having pleaded his own cause with a spirit by no means subdued, is condemned in a fine of fifteen thousand asses,
though the patricians tried every means to make the people relent.
The same year Postumia, a Vestal virgin, is tried for a breach of chastity, though guiltless of the charge;
having fallen under suspicion in consequence of her dress being too gay and her manners less reserved than becomes a virgin, not avoiding the imputation with sufficient care. The case was first deferred, she was afterwards acquitted; but the chief pontiff, by the instruction of the college, commanded her to refrain from indiscreet mirth, and to dress with more regard to sanctity than elegance.
In the same year Cumae, a city which the Greeks then occupied, was taken by the Campanians.