Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 10.32

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[32] After this action the senate was assembled and the consuls indulged in many accusations against the tribunes. Then Icilius took the floor and attempted to justify the tribunes' resentment against the lictor, citing the sacred laws which did not permit either a magistrate or a private citizen to offer any opposition to a tribune; and as for his attempt to convene the senate, he showed them that he had done nothing out of the way, using for this purpose many arguments of every sort, which he had prepared beforehand. 2 After answering these accusations, he proceeded to introduce his law concerning the hill. It was to this effect: All the parcels of land held by private citizens, if justly acquired, should remain in the possession of the owners, but such parcels as had been taken by force or fraud by any persons and built upon should be turned over to the populace and the present occupants reimbursed for their expenditures according to the appraisal of the arbitrators; all the remainder, belonging to the public, the populace should receive free of cost and divide up among themselves. 3 He also pointed out that this measure would be advantageous to the commonwealth, not only in many other ways, but particularly in this, that it would put an end to the disturbances raised by the poor concerning the public land that was held by the patricians. For he said they would be contented with receiving a portion of the city, inasmuch as they could have no part of the land lying in the country because of the number and power of those who had appropriated it. 4 After he had spoken thus, Gaius Claudius was the only person who opposed the law, while many gave their assent; and it was voted to give this district to the populace. Later, at a centuriate assembly called by the consuls, the pontiffs being present together with the augurs and two sacrificers and offering the customary vows and imprecations, the law was ratified. It is inscribed on a column of bronze, which they set up on the Aventine after taking it into the sanctuary of Diana. 5 When the law had been ratified, the plebeians assembled, and after drawing lots for the plots of ground, began to build, each man taking as large an area as he could; and sometimes two, three, or even more joined together to build one house, and drawing lots, some had the lower and others the upper stories. That year, then, was employed in building houses.

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