Livius 3.11.6-14.5

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11

[6] There was a young man, Caeso Quinctius, emboldened not only by his noble birth but also by his great stature and physical strength; and to these gifts of the gods he had himself added many honours in the field, and also forensic eloquence, so that no citizen was held to be readier, whether with tongue or with hand. [7] When this man had taken his place in the midst of the band of senators, towering above his fellows as though wielding all the might of dictators and consuls in his voice and strength of body, he would sustain unaided the attacks of the tribunes and the fury of the rabble. [8] His leadership often drove the tribunes from the Forum and ignominiously routed the plebeians; the man who crossed his path came off bruised and stripped; so that it was clear that if things were allowed to go on in this way the law was beaten. [9] Finally, when the other tribunes had already been pretty well cowed, one of their college named Aulus Verginius summoned Caeso to stand trial on a capital charge.The man's fierce nature was rather aroused by this than terrified; and he continued all the more bitterly to resist the law, to harry the plebs, and to assail the tribunes as if in actual warfare. [10] The accuser permitted the defendant to storm, and to fan the flames of popular resentment, while furnishing fresh materials for the charges which he intended to bring against him; meanwhile he continued to urge the law, not so much from any hope of carrying it as to provoke Caeso to recklessness. [11] In these circumstances it was Caeso alone,5 as being a suspected character, who got all the blame for many a rash word and act which proceeded from the young aristocrats. [12] Nevertheless the law continued to meet resistance. And Aulus Verginius kept saying to the plebeians: “I suppose you see now, Quirites, that you cannot at the same time have Caeso for a fellow-citizen and obtain the law you desire? [13] And yet why do I say law It is liberty he is thwarting; in all the Tarquinian house was no such arrogance. Wait till this man becomes consul or dictator, whom you see lording it over us while a private citizen, by virtue of his strength and impudence!” There were many who agreed with him; they complained of the beatings they had received, and freely urged the tribune to see the business through.


12

[1] The day of the trial now drew near, and it was clearly the general opinion that liberty depended on Caeso's condemnation. Then at last he was obliged, though greatly disdaining such a course, to sue for the support of individuals. [2] He was accompanied by his friends, the chief men of the state. Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, who had thrice been consul, rehearsed the many honours which had come to [3??] himself and his family, and declared that neither in the Quinctian clan nor in the Roman state had there ever been such native qualities, so early ripening into manly worth; Caeso had been his best soldier, and had often fought under his own eyes. [4] Spurius Furius testified that Caeso had been sent to him by Quinctius Capitolinus, and had come to his aid when he was in a dangerous plight; that there was no single person whose services he considered to have been more effectual in saving the day. [5] Lucius Lucretius, the consul of the year before, in the splendour of his new-won renown, shared his glory with Caeso, told of the young man's combats, and recounted his wonderful exploits on raids or in the field of battle; [6] he earnestly advised the people to prefer that a distinguished youth, endowed with every advantage of nature and of fortune, and sure to be an important factor in the affairs of any state which he might join, should rather be their own than the citizen of another nation. [7] Those qualities in him which gave offence, impetuosity and rashness, were diminishing each day, as he grew older: that in which he was deficient, namely prudence, was daily increasing. They should suffer a man of his greatness his worth maturing as he outlived his faults — to grow old in the possession of his citizenship. [8] The young man's father, Lucius Quinctius, surnamed Cincinnatus, was among his advocates. He did not dwell on Caeso's praises, lest he should add to his unpopularity; but, craving indulgence for his errors and his youth, he begged them to acquit the son as a favour to the father, who had offended no man either in word or deed. [9] But some turned away from the petitioner, through either embarrassment or fear; while others complained of the injuries which Caeso had inflicted on themselves or their friends, and showed by their harsh replies how they meant to vote.

13

[1] There was one charge, besides the general dislike of him, which bore hard upon the accused. [2] Marcus Volscius Fictor, who had been a tribune of the plebs a few years before, had certified that shortly after the epidemic had been in the City he had fallen in with a band of young men swaggering through the Subura.There a brawl had arisen, and his elder brother, who had not yet fully recovered from the disease, had been felled by a blow from Caeso's fist; he had been picked up halfalive and carried home, and his death, Volscius considered, had resulted from this hurt; yet under the consuls of previous years he had been unable to avenge that wicked crime. [3] As Volscius shouted out this story, men became so excited that Caeso had nearly perished by the fury of the people. Verginius gave orders to seize the fellow and throw him into prison. [4] The patricians resisted force with force. Titus Quinctius cried out that a man who had been charged with a capital crime and whose day of trial was at hand ought not to suffer violence, uncondemned and unheard. The tribune answered that he did not propose to punish him uncondemned, but that he should keep him in prison notwithstanding, till the day of trial, that the Roman People might have it in their power to punish a homicide. [5] The other tribunes, on being appealed to, asserted by a compromise their prerogative of protection: [6] they forbade the imprisonment of the accused, but declared it to be their pleasure that he be produced for trial, and that money be pledged to the people in the event of a failure to produce him. [7] How great a sum was proper to be guaranteed was a doubtful point; it was referred to the senate, and Caeso was detained in custody till the Fathers could be consulted. They voted that sureties should be furnished, and fixed the responsibility of one surety at 3,000 asses; how many sureties should be given they left the tribunes to determine. [8] They decided on ten, and with this number of sureties the accuser admitted the accused to bail. Caeso was the first that ever gave sureties to the people. Being allowed to leave the Forum, he departed that night and went into exile amongst the Etruscans. [9] On the day of trial, when it was pleaded that he had gone into voluntary exile, Verginius nevertheless attempted to hold the comitia, but an appeal was taken to his colleagues, who dismissed the assembly. [10] The money was exacted from Caeso's father without pity, so that he was obliged to sell all that he had and live for some time on the other side of the Tiber, like one banished, in a certain lonely hovel.

14

[1] This trial and the promulgation of the law kept the citizens in a turmoil: from foreign wars there was a respite. [2] The tribunes, assuming that the rebuff sustained by the patricians in Caeso's exile had given themselves the victory, believed the law to be as good as passed; and so far as the older senators were concerned, they had indeed relinquished their grasp upon the government; [3] but the juniors, especially those who had been of Caeso's fellowship, grew more bitter against the plebs, and their courage ran as high as ever. Yet they greatly promoted their cause by tempering their fury with a kind of moderation. [4] At the first attempt after Caeso's exile to pass the law, they were organized and ready, and fell upon the tribunes with a great army of clients, as soon as the tribunes gave them an excuse by attempting to remove them; in such wise that no single patrician came off with any conspicuous share of glory or unpopularity, and the plebeians complained that a thousand Caesos had sprung up in the place of one. [5] During the intervening days on which the tribunes took no action about the law, nothing could have been more peaceable or quiet than these same youths. They would salute plebeians courteously, converse with them, invite them to their houses, assist them in the courts, and permit the tribunes themselves to hold their other assemblies without interruption. They never displayed arrogance towards any one, either openly or in private, except when the law came up; at other times they were democratic.

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