« НазадПродовжити »
zens. There does not seem any thing, at first sight, to object to a proposal not more generous than just; but the Patricians, who had, from time immemorial, regarded the public lands in the same light as the public honors and the public resources, that is to say, as exclusively their own, were as much enraged as if the Consul had proposed to turn them out of their offices or their dwellings. To a certain degree, they were excusable for any amount of opposition to the law; for, besides the long fixed notion that the domain of the Commonwealth was their own, and that their payment of a tithe of the produce" was a sacrifice rather than a duty on their part, they had made improvements and erected buildings upon the lands, and had bequeathed or inherited them, as legacies to which their title was indisputable. It does not appear that Cassius attempted to take back, in the name of the Commonwealth, any of its estates that had been most improved or longest occupied; but had his law been composed in the most moderate terms possible, it would still have been resisted, as it was, by the Patricians, with might and main. The law, however, passed;" but the commissioners whose appointment it required to divide the domain obtained from its occupants were never even named. The Patricians were probably unable to prevent the Plebeians from voting in their own behalf; and the Consul, perhaps, was so supported by members of either estate, that the opposition he excited was for an instant overcome; but whether he had set his heart on doing good to others, or on raising himself to great authority, he was soon disappointed or betrayed. The rumor may have been spread that he was seeking to become the king of Rome; and the Plebeians, remembering his mastership and his Latin league, may have mistrusted his motives for professing to relieve their poverty: but whatever their actual reason might have been, he was undoubtedly abandoned, just as he touched the highest point of all his greatness. Accused at the expiration of his office, probably before the Curies, and by them condemned as guilty of treason to the Commonwealth, Cassius was immediately executed;" and his house being razed to the ground, its site long remained vacant before one of the great temples in Rome. His deeds appear to have been worthy of a better fate; but the contrast between his life and his death, as far as it can be indistinctly made out, extorts the confession that Spurius Cassius is almost the least known of all the early Romans. Perhaps the only moral to be drawn is, that there was then no middle course to pursue between the factions by which the Commonwealth was sundered.’
4 Niebuhr assumes, without much from those whom his law left in necessity, that Cassius also proposed occupation of the undivided lands. to exact the tithe more regularly 5 See Dion. Hal., VIII. 76.
6 Liv., II. 41. Dion. Hal., VIII. 7 Dionysius (VIII. 78) makes it 77, 79. Both the historians men- out that Cassius was opposed to all tion a tradition that Cassius was put factions and to all laws. to death by his father's hands. The
year of his death was probably A.
WOL. I. 51
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., IX. 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 coorti sunt: 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 Caeso 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
16 Dion. Hal., IX. 3. See the narrative in Liv., II. 43.