Young Folks' History of Rome HTML version

13. The Plebeian Consulate, B.C. 367
All the old enemies of Rome attacked her again when she was weak and rising out of her
ruins, but Camillus had wisely persuaded the Romans to add the people of Veii, Capena,
and Falerii to the number of their citizens, making four more tribes; and this addition to
their numbers helped them beat off their foes.
But this enlarged the number of the plebeians, and enabled them to make their claims
more heard. Moreover, the old quarrel between poor and rich, debtor and creditor, broke
out again. Those who had saved their treasure in the time of the sack had made loans to
those who had lost to enable them to build their houses and stock their farms again, and
after a time they called loudly for payment, and when it was not forthcoming had the
debtors seized to be sold as slaves. Camillus himself was one of the hardest creditors of
all, and the barracks where slaves were placed to be sold were full of citizens.
Marcus Manlius Capitolinus was full of pity, and raised money to redeem four hundred
of them, trying with all his might to get the law changed and to save the rest; but the rich
men and the patricians thought he acted only out of jealousy of Camillus, and to get up a
party for himself. They said he was raising a sedition, and Publius Cornelius Cossus was
named Dictator to put it down. Manlius was seized and put into chains, but released
again. At last the rich men bought over two of the tribunes to accuse him of wanting to
make himself a king, and this hated title turned all the people against their friend, so that
the general cry sentenced him to be cast down from the top of the Tarpeian rock; his
house on the Capitol was overthrown, and his family declared that no son of their house
should ever again bear the name of Manlius
Yet the plebeians were making their way, and at last succeeded in gaining the plebeian
magistracies and equal honors with the patricians. A curious story is told of the cause of
the last effort which gained the day. A patrician named Fabius Ambustus had two
daughters, one of whom he gave in marriage to Servius Sulpicius, a patrician and military
tribune, the other to Licinius Stolo. One day, when Stolo's wife was visiting her sister,
there was a great noise and thundering at the gates which frightened her, until the other
Fabii said it was only her husband coming home from the Forum attended by his lictors
and clients, laughing at her ignorance and alarm, until a whole troop of the clients came
in to pay their court to the tribune's wife.
Stolo's wife went home angry and vexed, and reproached her husband and her father for
not having made her equal with her sister, and so wrought on them that they put
themselves at the head of the movement in favor of the plebeians; and Licinius and
another young plebeian named Lucius Sextius, being elected year after year tribunes of
the people, went on every time saying Veto to whatever was proposed by anybody, and
giving out that they should go on doing so till three measures were carried—viz., that
interest on debt should not be demanded; that no citizen should possess more than three
hundred and twenty acres of the public land, or feed more than a certain quantity of cattle
on the public pastures; and, lastly, that one of the two consuls should always be a
They went on for eight years, always elected by the people and always stopping
everything. At last there was another inroad of the Gauls expected, and Camillus, though
eighty years old, was for the fifth time chosen Dictator, and gained a great victory upon
the banks of the Anio. The Senate begged him to continue Dictator till he could set their