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The version we can give to the story of Cassius by conjecture is, that the melancholy fate he met was the result, not of his own errors, nor only of the enmity of the Patricians, but, in greater part, of the feebleness of the Plebeians and their Tribunes, who would have aided him, had they dared.” After his death, the law, in spite of remaining a dead letter, so grew in favor with those it was designed to benefit, that some of the Tribunes, from year to year,” were inspired to attempt its revival; but their efforts were not, apparently, the wisest, or even the most zealous, that could have been made, and the Plebeians were still unable to wrest from the Patricians the lands their own right arms had wrested from their foes. In truth, the lower estate was greatly depressed, through causes of which no clear account is preserved, but which may readily be surmised to have been the continuance of wars and hardships, like those of former years. Twice, successively, the Consuls were elected by the Curies" instead of the Centuries; nor was the ancient manner of election then restored, but the Curies continued to usurp the right of choosing one Consul, leaving to the choice of the Centuries" the other only, who would then, as the reader will remember, require the grant of his commission from the Curies. The great evil to be arrested was the perpetual succession of campaigns, in which the father lost his property or his life, leaving his children in wretchedness, and by which, likewise, the whole energies of the lower classes would be naturally absorbed. Two years after Cassius's execution, the Tribune Caius Maenius declared he would protect any of his order who refused to enlist themselves in a levy, which the Consuls were consequently obliged to hold beyond the mile from the city walls, in order to use their powers, absolute without that limit, against the refractory citizens.” Two years later, the attempt to hinder the enrolment of forces was renewed by another Tribune, Spurius Licinius,” who endeavoured, at the same time, as Maenius had done, to obtain the execution of the Agrarian law; but he, too, failed, more signally than Maenius, his designs being opposed by his own associates.” The example, however, of the bolder Tribunes was followed, the next year, by another, named Ponteficius, whose efforts, like those of Licinius, were baffled by his colleagues.” Yet it need not be remarked, that the courage which such as these three showed was of the greatest service to the interests they could not immediately secure.
8 “I know,” says Menenius to 9 As Livy incidentally remarks; the Tribune, “you can do very little II. 42, 43,44, 52, 54,61, 63. alone; for your helps are many; or 10 Liv., II. 42. Niebuhr, Vol. else your actions would grow won- II. pp. 86 et seq. drous single: your abilities are too 11 Dion. Hal., VIII. 90, IX. 1. infant-like for doing much alone.” Liv., II. 43. See Niebuhr again, Coriolanus, Act II. sc. 1. Vol. II. p. 90.
12 Dion. Hal., VIII. 87. 15 Dion. Hal., DK. 5. Liv., II. 13 Liv., II. 43. The name is 44. Appius Claudius here appears, also supposed to have been Icilius. for the last time, delighted that the Dion. Hal., IX. 1 (amended). Tribunes' power should be broken * “Nec in eum Consules acrius by its own weight, —“suis viribus quam ipsius ejus collegao coortisunt: dissolvi.” auxilioque eorum delectum Consules habent.” Liv., II. 43.
The consulship, against which the powers of the tribuneship were very unequally matched, was generally in the possession of a few Patrician families. One of its two seats was held for seven years successively by a Fabius; three members of that great house being chosen, one after another, and then reelected, as if the office were their hereditary property. One of the three was Caeso Fabius, who, having been Quaestor at the time of Cassius's prosecution, was then able to give an official air to the animosity he bore that unhappy Patrician. Time passed, and Cae... so Fabius became Consul once and again, by the votes of the Curies, against the will of the Plebeians, who were beginning to regard the man he led to execution a year or two before as a martyr to his zeal for their prosperity." The odium excited by the Fabian family was most strongly manifested in the year following Caeso's second consulship, when Marcus Fabius, having succeeded him, was obliged to delay his operations at the head of the Roman forces in Etruria, in consequence of the lukewarmness, or rather the hatred, he knew to be felt towards him by the soldiers under his command. The troops were forbidden to stir beyond their camp, although the enemy was close at hand; nor would the Consul give the signal for battle, until his men, sick of inactivity and reproach, swore with one consent to win the victory, if they were allowed to meet the foe. The Consul fought in the van, and one of his brothers, as well as his colleague, was slain upon the fiercely contested field; but the fortune of the day was with the Romans. On their return to Rome, Marcus Fabius, refusing to triumph for the success he confessed to have cost him and the Commonwealth dear, devoted himself to the care of his wounded soldiers, for whom he provided quarters in his own house and with his friends, until they should be cured. The Plebeians forgot the past, in amazement at the present behaviour of the Consul and his family; and when Caeso Fabius came forward again as a candidate for his third consulship, the lower classes were as anxious as the highest that he should succeed." He, too, appeared to be transformed. After striving, though vainly, to persuade the Senate to consent to the long-deferred division of the public lands amongst those whose blood and sweat had gained them,” he twice marched forth at the head of his army to gather the laurels that are easily found by a general whom his soldiers love. Scarcely returned from his second campaign, in which he saved his colleague's forces from destruction by the troops from Veii, Caeso came into the Senate-house, followed by every member of his family. The Patricians, who had thwarted his best designs, might have feared he came to do them violence; but the words he is reported to have uttered were neither those of anger nor revenge. “Send us out,” he said, “against the people of Veii, and take ye care of other wars yourselves. We promise to protect the majesty of the Roman name.” On the following day, the whole family, with one exception,” appeared in arms, with households and clients, all headed by the Consul in his military robes; and proceeding through the streets to the gates by which they were to pass out, but through which they never would return, they bade their friends farewell and responded to the acclamations of the people as if their march had been to keep a festival. Within two years, not one of three hundred and six, who had gone forth, remained” to keep the enemy away or to show the Plebeians that there were some amongst the Patricians to count them as fellow-citizens. Such are the outlines of a legend which cannot be dismissed without a comment upon the historical substance of which it was, in olden time, composed. The illustration it offers of the fervor of Roman patriotism is not nearly so valuable as the proof it conveys that the divisions which existed between the Patricians had so widened or thickened in the time of the Fabii, as to make a family of their authority desirous to leave their homes to their more successful adversaries. The Plebeians, it seems, were no more capable of defending them than of protecting Cassius; and the faction which sought to triumph over the
16 Dion. Hal., IX. 3. See the narrative in Liv., II, 43.
17 “Non patrum magis quam rum sanguine ac sudore partus sit.” plebis studiis.” Liv., II. 48. Ibid. 18 “Verum esse habere eos, quo