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Poti'tus, Vale'rius

2. L. Valerius Potitus, consul with M. Horatius Barbatus, In B. C. 449. Dionysius calls him a grandson of the great P. Valerius Publicola, and a son of the P. Valerius Publicola, who was consul in B. C. 460, and who was killed that year in the assault of the Capitol, which had been seized by Herdonius (Dionys. A. R. 11.4); and hence we find him described as L. Valerius Publicola Potitus. But we think it more probable that he was the son or grandson of L.Valerius Potitus [No. 1]; first, because we find that Livy, Cicero, and Dionysius, invariably give him the surname of Potitus, and never that of Publicola, and secondly because the great popularity of Potitus would naturally give origin to the tradition that he was a lineal descendant of that member of the gens, who took such a prominent part in the expulsion of the kings.

The annals of the Valeria gens recorded that L. Valerius Potitus was the first person who offered opposition to the decemvirs; and whether this was the case or not, there can be no doubt that he took a leading part in the abolition of the tyrannical power. He and M. Horatius are represented as the leaders of the people against Ap. Claudius after the murder of Virginia by her father; and when the plebeians had seceded to the Sacred Hill, he and Horatius were sent to them by the senate, as the only acceptable members, to negotiate the terms of peace. In this mission they succeeded; the decemvirate was abolished, and the two friends of the plebs, Valerius and Horatius, were elected consuls, B. C. 449. Their consulship is memorable by the enactment of the celebrated Valeriae et Horatiae leges, which secured the liberties of the plebs, and gave them additional power in the state. 1. The first law is said to have made a plebiscitum binding on the whole people, but Niebuhr supposes that the curiae were necessary to give a plebiscitum the full force of a lex. [Comp. PHILO, p. 298a.] 2. The second law enacted that whoever should procure the election of a magistrate without appeal should be outlawed, and might be killed by any one with impunity. 3. The third law declared that, whoever harmed the tribunes of the plebs, the aediles, the judices, or the decemvirs, should be outlawed and accursed. It is doubtful who are meant by the judices and decemvirs : various conjectures have been made on the point by modern writers (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. ii. p. 368; Arnold, list. of Rome, vol. i. p. 319). After the enactmeat of these laws, the consuls proceeded to march against the foreign enemies of the state. The people flocked to the standards of the popular consuls, and fought with enthusiasm under their orders. They accordingly met with great success; Valerius defeated the Aequi and the Volsci, Horatius the Sabines, and both armies returned to Rome covered with glory. The senate, however, refused to grant a triumph to these traitors to their order; whereupon the centuries conferred upon them this honour by their supreme authority, regardless of the opposition of the senate. (Liv. 3.39-41, 49-55,61-64 ; Dionys. A. R. 11.4, &100.45, &c.; Cic. de Rep. 2.31, Brut. 14; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. ii. pp. 345-376.) In B. C. 446 Valerius was chosen by the centuries one of the quaestores parricidii (Tac. Ann. 11.22; respecting the statement in Tacitus, see Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Quaestor).

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449 BC (2)
460 BC (1)
446 BC (1)
hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 49
    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.22
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 41
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 55
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