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of the Commonwealth would be such as approved themselves to many different judgments and interests, it was not really as it seemed. In the instance of a consular bill, the votes of the Patricians alone were paramount from its proposal to its passage, not even excepting its submission to the Centuries, in which, at the present period, the higher estate, with their supporters, were still supreme. The tribunitian bill, which had, it is true, its source in the desires of the lower estate, could be hindered, as we have seen, and stopped, until the current broke into a freshet and swept its way. It is hardly needful to remind the reader that the broils of trials and elections were equally common to the legislative meetings of the early, as, indeed, of the later Romans.
Through these restraints and through these liberties the destiny of the nation was to be evolved. And as we stood by the hills and upon the plains, to watch the settlements they received, and the manner in which the city rose, so now, three centuries after, we look back and forward to signs unerring, that freedom will be hard to establish, and harder still to exercise aright in Rome. Every countenance seems to wear a scowl, and every hand to bear a sword, as if there were battles to fight rather than rights to win.
“This frame is raised upon a mass of antipathies.”—SIR THo. BRowNe, Rel. Med., Pt. II. sect. 7. THE spirit of the Twelve Tables is much more easily ascertained than their letter can in any way be restored, by following out the events immediately succeeding to their establishment in Rome; though it be true that we must still walk among shadows, and that the operation of the laws will often prove uncertain, like their style. We shall yet be exclusively occupied by the early public growth of Roman liberty. The Tables were hardly completed, and the last two were not even ratified by the people, when their emptiness seemed proved through the very men by whom they had been compiled. Appius Claudius and his colleagues began to wear the looks of tyrants,' and it was noised that they had the intention of making themselves what they seemed. Some of the Patricians, delighted at any system of oppression, supported the Decemvirs with all their zeal. Others, and the majority, aggrieved that their assemblies were not called together, and that the Decemvirs did not resign their power, were content to wait awhile before attempting force. Many, injured or wantonly offended,” withdrew, it is said, to their farms, forgetting or abandoning their own affection for authority. The Plebeians suffered, but perhaps no more than the Patricians. A certain number of them, also, appear to have left the city;” and most, if not all, would be as anxious as their neighbours to be done with the Decemvirs, and return to their own magistrates and assemblies. Yet from the narrative which presently follows, in the old historians, it can be plainly gathered, that, while both classes were weary of the decemvirate, a large party of the Patricians were determined that the resignation of the Decemvirs should be to their own advantage, whenever it occurred, and that the Plebeians should be prevented by every means from recovering their Tribunes or the recent powers of their Tribes. Some time towards the close of the second decemvirate, the Senate was summoned to provide the means of defence against a threatened invasion from the AEquians and Sabines. Among the Senators assembled, after a prorogation of many months, were two who came determined to assail the Decemvirs and compel their abdication. One of these was Lucius Valerius, the grandson or grand-nephew of old Valerius, the People's Friend; the other, Marcus Horatius, descended from one of the greatest and the worthiest Patrician families. It is not too much to say, even in the uncertainties of the present period, that, through these two men, the purposes just mentioned as hatching against the liberties of the Plebeians were utterly confounded. Valerius began to address the Senate against the Decemvirs, who instantly interrupted him; at which Horatius, nothing daunted, called out to them that they were “ten Tarquins,” and bade them beware; for “men,” he said, “were now thinking they suffered more than they could fear.” The debate became tumultuous, and though without immediate result, it showed the Decemvirs their insecurity. As for the Plebeians, they seemed, for the moment, to be paralyzed. Never had any enlistment been more rapid than that which was presently ordered by the Decemvirs in the Forum; and never had any campaign than that which followed, though two armies took the field, been more disgraceful. To be routed by the enemy was not so uncommon, perhaps, as the writers of Roman history would have it seem; but defeat was small dishonor in comparison with the death of Sicinius Dentatus, a Plebeian, long distinguished in war and the Forum,” who fell, slain by order of the Decemvirs, – though mourned, yet unavenged by his comrades, whom, in his last days, he had vainly endeavoured to rouse against their perils." Another tragedy was enacted in Rome. Appius 4 Liv., III. 39. 6 Urging them to secession. Liv., * Pliny’s account of his exploits III. 43. Dion. Hal., XI. 25 et is the portrait of every Roman hero seq.
1 “Decem regum species erat.” Liv., IIl. 36.
Claudius, to whom the authority he possessed was valuable only in its evil uses, had remained behind to pursue his designs against the daughter of a Centurion, named Virginius, absent at the time, with one of the armies. No sketch has ever been or ever will be drawn of tyranny or wickedness more hateful than in the story which represents Appius, while his countrymen and colleagues were in the field against the enemy, as employing himself against an unprotected maiden, whose virtue was to him a fitter enemy to assail than legions or hosts of rugged men in arms. Virginia was brought before his tribunal to be adjudged the slave of his client, — in other words, his own victim; and all that her lover, Icilius,” could gain was the delay of a single day before the sentence and the lust of the Decemvir would take their course. Appius knew the motive for which Icilius simply pleaded to have the cause deferred, that it was to call Virginius to his daughter's protection, — and therefore sent to bid his colleagues arrest their Centurion, before he could get away; but Virginius eluded their pursuit, and came to Rome. And none forget, how, when his hope of saving his child proved weak against the brutality of the Decemvir, he stabbed her dead,” and fled, blood-stained, to implore his fellow-soldiers to revenge her horrible end. Appius Claudius hid himself, in terror, perhaps at
7 Diodorus (XII. 24) calls Vir- 9 As Alfieri says: — ginius a Patrician. “Un padre omai romano troppo.” 8 The same whose law had be- Virginia, Att. III. sc. 3. stowed the Aventine on the Plebeians.