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to leave the Patricians where they were, and find another camp for themselves. Some hesitated; others proposed to slay their officers, that they might be called mutineers rather than deserters: but when the hour came, they all marched forth with arms and standards, silently and without bloodshed. One of the old historians says they had no actual leader, but were urged to desertion by a certain Sicinius;* but another, with greater probability, speaks of several leaders, of whom the same Sicinius was the principal.” There could, indeed, have been no want of sage counsellors or daring captains; but however guided, the seceders, as they called themselves, kept together, and took possession of a fortified” hill, three miles from Rome, beyond the Anio. The Consuls and the officers beneath them, as well, doubtless, as the Knights and the Patricians of the army, hastened after the troops by whom they were deserted, so soon as they could collect their senses and determine upon the course best to be pursued. They came to the hill on which their men were encamped, and began, of course, to upbraid or to cajole them, according to their own humors, never doubting, apparently, that a few words would be enough to bring back the deserters. But Sicinius is said” to have interrupted them. “How have ye the heart, Patricians,” he exclaimed, “to call back men whom 27 “Sicinio quodam auctore, . . . . . * As appears from the account sine ullo duce.” Liv., II. 32. of Tullus Hostilius's campaign. * Aoxayo's re répous, kai Tepi Liv., I. 27.
ye yourselves turn into slaves or exiles? How will ye give us faith in promises so often broken as yours have been If ye wish the city to yourselves, go hence unhindered; but for us, our country shall be that in which we can find liberty.” The Consuls and the others with them, daunted by the resolution they beheld, rode off to Rome. The news of the secession, possibly not altogether unexpected by the Plebeians, was received in the city with joy on their part, greater than any alarm that could yet be felt amongst the Patricians. Indeed, the first misgivings were those of the families whose fathers or children were away upon the hill, embarked in an undertaking never before attempted, and fraught with a thousand real or imaginary perils. The order was given by the Senate to close and guard the gates; but many of the Plebeians, men, women, and children, were already fled to join their friends and kinsmen; and many more were able to break out, with arms in their hands, to occupy the Aventine,” together with those who dwelt there, or else to hurry forward to the Anio. The whole city was in an uproar, until half its population were departed. The character of the seceders would need no other account than the simplest narrative of their determination and their triumph, were it not for the idea that is apt to be conceived concerning them, as a mob of common insurgents, whose success is or was unaccountable. Though not the richest, they were certainly not the poorest, of the Plebeians. The poor man, who had no money to borrow or property to lose, was accustomed to some hardships, of which another would complain, if he were driven by taxes and embarrassments, not merely into poverty, but into bondage. On the other hand, the rich man, inclined, as we have formerly supposed, to side with his superiors, would be, perhaps, the cruellest creditor to his inferior; and in any disturbance between the lender and the borrower, would certainly oftener take the lender's part. They who were gone out to the hill beyond the Anio, or to the Aventine, were of the middle class, descended from as good a stock as any men in Rome, but reduced, through the defeat of their ancestors, to a subordinate rank, which was now become, and in most instances through no fault of their own, but through the difficulties of the times, a condition of the most wretched and, as yet, the most helpless dependence. It was from this that the seceders, numbering about twenty thousand,” were resolved to extricate themselves. Meanwhile the Patricians were changing from amazement to wrath, and from wrath to irresolution. Arming themselves and their clients, besides whom they were probably able to gather some bands from the lowest classes of the Plebeians, and joined, moreover, by the richer men of the same estate, they strengthened the gates, manned the towers of the city, and set their posts without the walls. But these were measures of defence; such neither as the Patricians were wont to take, nor as would now be sufficient to subdue the Plebeians. Besides the uncertainty and the fear which the Patricians could not entirely avoid, they were alarmed afresh by the inroad of troops from some of the neighbouring nations,” quick to take advantage of the divisions amongst the Romans. The enemy could be easily descried from the walls; and anxious eyes, undoubtedly, watched their approach to the hill of the Plebeians; but they, if tempted, stood firm and apart, content to see the lands of their creditors laid waste by the ravages not now, without them, to be hindered. The foe retired; and the only wonder was, that the territory of Rome was not overspread by marauders, as swiftly and as thickly as the earth is covered with its autumn leaves. Every thing depended upon the influence of the wiser Patricians, whose temperate counsels, had they been sooner followed, would have prevented the dangers in which the whole nation was now involved. It would not do for the violent on either side to offer battle, unless the fall of the Commonwealth itself were desired as a consequence of victory; nor was it safe to wait until want of courage or of food should compel the return of the seceders, or the abatement of pride on the part of the Patricians. The Senate was convened, of course in Rome; and milder proposals fortunately prevailing, it was determined to send an embassy to the Plebeians. They, meanwhile, had remained on their hill by the Anio, as upon the Aventine, increasing in numbers, and procuring such shelter and sustenance as could be obtained from the neighbouring fields. In after years, their descendants were fond of decking the old story with ornaments of whose intrinsic value it is difficult to be very sure; and many an exclamation of wonder or admiration was excited, when it was repeated that the seceders did no deed of violence, nor even plundered the neighbourhood, except, perhaps, of a sheaf of corn from the field, or a bundle of fagots from the wood, of some rich Patrician. Enough there were, undoubtedly, about the camp-fires on the hill, to talk of revenge and bloody exploits, as they sharpened their arms or piled their stores; but the women who came to join their husbands or their fathers would sometimes make them hesitate, and their children, even to those rude hearts, were constant arguments for peace. The embassy, therefore, from the Patricians, was not unwelcome; but as it only brought questionings or offers of forgiveness, when the Plebeians asked no pardon and their desires were fully known, it proved, in itself, a failure. The mission, however, of the envoys was not altogether fruitless. It convinced the seceders that they must be resolute, and attracted fresh numbers to their support;” but more important still was the proof it
91 Cic., De Rep., II. 33. Liv. (referring to Piso), II. 32.
* The calculation is uncertain; be joined by 5,000 or 10,000 more, see note 20. But supposing the six we have from 23,000 to 28,000 in legions to contain each 3,000 Ple- all ; part of these being on the beians, and then imagining them to Aventine.