Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 10.60

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[60] When, therefore, they all saw this token, which was considered to be a mark of the kingly power, they were in great fear, as I said, believing that they had lost their liberty and chosen ten kings instead of one. The decemvirs having by this means struck terror into the masses and made up their mind that they must rule them by fear thereafter, each of them formed a faction, choosing from among the youth those who were most daring and most attached to their persons. 2 Now the fact that most men of no means and low condition showed themselves flatterers of a tyrannical power and preferred their private advantages to the public good, was neither extraordinary nor surprising; but that there were found many even of the patricians who, though they had some reason, on the basis of either wealth or birth, to feel great pride, nevertheless consented to join with the decemvirs in destroying the liberty of their country, that seemed an amazing thing to everybody. But the decemvirs, by humouring people with all the pleasures that are calculated to subdue mankind, governed the commonwealth with great ease, holding the senate and people in no account, but becoming themselves both the lawgivers and the judges in all matters, putting many of the citizens to death and stripping others of their estates unjustly. 3 In order, however, that their acts, illegal and cruel as they were, might have a specious appearance and seem to be carried out in accordance with justice, they appointed courts to try every matter; but the accusers, chosen from among the instruments of their tyranny, were suborned by the decemvirs themselves and the courts filled with men of their factions, who gratified one another by turns in rendering their decisions. 4 Many complaints, and those not the ones of least importance, the decemvirs decided by themselves. Hence the litigants who had less right on their side were under the necessity of attaching themselves to the factions, since they could not otherwise be sure of success; and in time the corrupted and infected element in the city became more numerous than the sound element. For those to whom the doings of the decemvirs pwere obnoxious would not consent even to remain any longer within the city's walls, but retired to the country while awaiting the time for the election of magistrates, in the expectation that the decemvirs would resign their power after completing their year's term and would appoint other magistrates. 5 As for Appius and his colleagues, they caused the remaining laws to be inscribed on two tables and added them to those they had published before. Among these new laws was this one, that it should not be lawful for the patricians to contract marriages with the plebeians — a law made for no other reason, in my opinion, than to prevent the two orders from coming together in harmony when once blended together by intermarriages and ties of affinity. 6 And when the time for the election of magistrates was at hand, the decemvirs bade a hearty farewell to both the ancestral customs and the newly-written laws, and without asking for a vote of either senate or people, continued in the same magistracy.

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