Page images
PDF
EPUB

The ambassadors, thus appointed by the Senate, are then presented by the consuls to the popular assembly. Here they are required to read their instructions, which are, that they shall do everything in their power for reconciling the plebeians with the patricians, without guile or deceit, and for bringing about a speedy return of the seceders. The assembly is satisfied with these instructions, and acquiesces in the act of the Senate.(220)

The fame of the ambassadors goes before them, and they are met, outside the camp, by a body of the seceders. An assembly is formed, wbich is addressed by Manius Valerius, on behalf of the Senate. He explains to it the nature of their mission, and the extent of their powers, and concludes by calling on the seceding party to state their demands. The person who, according to Dionysius, answers this appeal, and comes forward as the organ and representative of the plebeian secession, is a certain Lucius Junius, who, in imitation of the founder of the Republic, assumed the additional name of Brutus. He is described by Dionysius as something between a Thersites and a Cleon ;(221) but the speech which is put in his mouth is a full, clear, and effective statement of the grievances of the plebeians, well suited to the supposed occasion.

After some remarks on the impolicy of placing themselves in the power of the patricians, he gives a sketch of the early history, in which he declares that the plebeians had been well treated under the royal government, particularly under the last kings. He points to the wars with Veii and Tarquinii, and to the war with Porsena, as proofs that the plebeians exposed their lives in defence of their country; and he shows that the threats of invasion afforded them an opportunity of leaving the patricians exposed to the violence of their enemies. The breach of faith under Servilius and that under Valerius are then insisted

authentic, and taken from the libri augurales ; forgeries would indeed have been carried fur, if such names were spurious.' It must however have been unknown to Livy, who speaks of only one ambassador being sent.

(220) Ib. c. 66-9.

(221) vi. 70. In vii. 36, he is called δεινός ανήρ τα τ' άλλα και πόρους ευρείν έν απόροις.

on, as reasons for a distrustful policy; and he describes the wretched condition of the insolvent debtors. He concludes his harangue by exhorting the seceders to separate altogether from the Roman community, and to form a new colony elsewhere; in support of which advice he appeals to the migration of Æneas from Troy to Latium, and the migration of Romulus from Alba to Rome.(2-2)

This speech profoundly agitates the assembly, and draws tears and lamentations from all the plebeian body. When silence is restored, T. Larcius, one of the ambassadors from the Senate, answers the speech of L. Junius : he defends the course taken by the Senate, and alleges that only a small portion of the plebeians really need relief, and that the majority are able, though reluctant, to satisfy the claims of their creditors. These unwelcome truths produce an uproar in the assembly ;(223) after which Sicinius comes forward, and widens the breach by advising that the treaty be broken off, and that the ambassadors be dismissed, unless they state the terms which they are prepared to offer. At this critical point of the negotiation, Menenius Agrippa, the author of the conciliatory motion in the Senate, claims to be heard. He then proceeds to declare that, as the severe measures for the recovery of debts are the cause of the intestine commotion, all subsisting debts shall be forthwith annulled, and all insolvent debtors, reduced to slavery by their creditors, shall be liberated. With regard to the future, he

(222) Ib. c. 70–80. Dr. Arnold says of the seceders on the Mons Sacer : 'Here they established themselves, and here they proposed to found a new city of their own.' Hist. of Rome, vol. i. p. 146. It is highly improbable that the plebeians should have ever contemplated founding a new city at a distance of three miles from Rome. Dionysius represents L. Junius Brutus as proposing removal to some other region; c. 79, 80.

(223) Dionysius describes these statements as αληθείς μεν, ούχ άπασι tois á kovovoi kexaplouévoi ; vi. 81. Dr. Arnold, Hist. of Ronie, vol.i.p. 138, speaks of the extraordinary moderation of the plebeians in remedying their distress ;' and he adds : severity against a careless or fraudulent debtor seemed to them perfectly just; they only desired protection in cases of unavoidable mistortune or wanton cruelty' This is not the view presented by Dionysius : he supposes the remission of debts to be a general measure of indiscriminate relief, applicable to all debtors without reference to their circumstances, Livy and Cicero, as we shall see below, suppose no relief to have been given on this occasion,

promises an amendment of the law of debt. Having thus disposed of the question at issue between the Senate and the plebeians, by conceding everything which was demanded, he concludes his address with the celebrated apologue of the Belly and Limbs, which is intended to illustrate the reciprocal assistance which wealth and labour afford to each other. This apologue, according to Dionysius, was remembered on account of its appositeness to the state of affairs, and was mentioned in all the ancient histories.(224) It will be observed that Dionysius does not represent the ten ambassadors as coming to any agreement as to the terms which they will offer to the plebeians; his narrative rather implies that the concession announced by Menenius is made upon his sole responsibility. We are then told that the seceders are fully satisfied with the promises of Menepius, and are about to return to the city, without taking any guarantee for their fulfilment, when L. Junius checks their eagerness, and recommends, as a measure of security, that they should demand the establishment of plebeian magistrates, with no other power than that of protecting the plebeians, and of defending their rights.(225) This proposal is received with great applause by the assembly, and the ambassadors confer together respecting the answer to be made to the unexpected demand. Menenius then stands forward, and says that the ambassadors do not themselves object to the concession, but they consider it as beyond their powers. He adds however that they are prepared to send Valerius and some of their number to the Senate, for instructions on the question, and to recommend that the request of the plebeians should be granted. This offer is accepted: Valerius and some of his colleagues return to Rome; and a meeting of the Senate is held, which they attend, and at which Valerius recommends that the concession should be made. Appius advises refusal, but the majority of the Senate wish to

(224) όθεν και μνήμης άξιούται ο λόγος, και φέρεται εν απάσαις ταις αρχαίαις iotopiais; vi. 83.

(225) Concerning this character of the tribunate, see Becker, ii. 2, p. 264.

a

put an end to the secession, and a decree is passed, not only confirming the measures promised by the ambassadors respecting the debts of the plebeians, but also creating the new plebeian magistracy. On the following day the ambassadors repair again to the camp, and report the decision of the Senate : whereupon a deputation, composed of L. Junius Brutus, Marcus Decius, and Spurius Icilius, on the part of the plebeians, and five of the ambassadors, proceed to Rome, and on the next day, L. Junius makes a solemn treaty with the Senate, by means of the Feciales. Menenius remains in the camp, in order to draw up the law which is to regulate the elections of the new magistrates. The election is then held by the people in curiæ; and five tribunes of the plebeians are appointed, namely, L. Junius Brutus, C. Sicinius Bellutus, C. Licinius, P. Licinius, and C. Icilius Ruga. These five tribunes entered upon their offices upon the 4th day before the ides of December, as was still the practice in the time of Dionysius. A law was then passed making the person of the tribune sacred; and it was enforced by the most binding religious solemnities. (2-6) Before the plebeians left the Mons Sacer, they erected upon it a memorial altar to the 'Jupiter of Terrors :'(227) and they afterwards obtained from the patricians the additional concession, that two plebeian ædiles should be annually elected.(228) The Senate are likewise stated by Dionysius to have added a third day to the Feriæ Latinæ, in commemoration of the return of the Plebs. The first day had, according to his account, been consecrated by Tarquinius Superbus, and the second at the expulsion of the kings.(229)

[ocr errors]

(226) Concerning this law, see Becker, ib. p. 269-70. Dionysius traces the subsequent custom to this origin. έκ τούτων κατέστη τους Ρωμαίοις έθος, τα των δημάρχων σώματα ιερά είναι και παναγή, και μέχρι του καθ' ημάς χρόνου olaj évet; vi. 89. (227) ώς ή πάτριος αυτών σημαίνει γλώσσα, Διός Δειματίου; vi. 90.

There was probably an altar to Jupiter Pavens' (or some such epithet) upon the Mons Sacer, the origin of which Dionysius referred to the plebeiar. secession. Hartung, Religion der Römer, vol. ii. p. 58, translates the Greek epithet by • Pavorius.' Tullus Hostilius is said to bave vowed temples to Pallor and Pavor; Livy, i. 27.

(228) Dion. Hal. vi. 45—90. Concerning the plebeian ædiles, see Becker, ib. p. 291.

(229) Dion. Hal. vi. 95. In this passage, Tarquin is said to have

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

§ 17 On reviewing this copious, minute, and interesting narrative, we are naturally led to inquire what authority Dionysius could have had for it. He states that the apologue of Menenius was found in all the ancient histories.' But how ancient were these histories with reference to the event described? The secession to the Mons Sacer is placed in the year 494 B.C., nearly three centuries before the time of Fabius Pictor and Cincius, the earliest Roman historians of their country. It is inconceivable that a detailed history of this transaction, accounting for each day, describing the successive debates in the Senate, and in the camp, and reporting the speeches delivered on each side, could have been written from authentic materials, even by the earliest Roman historian. The secession is placed at a time when our knowledge even of Athenian history is only general. It is four years before the battle of Marathon, ten years before the birth of Herodotus,(230) and twenty-three years before the birth of Thucydides. It is only sixteen years after the expulsion of the Pisistratidæ; concerning which event the Athenians had, according to Thucydides, most imperfect ideas in his time. It may however be said that, although the details of the transaction, and particularly the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

instituted the first day, at the time when the Romans conquered the Etruscans. His detailed account however, in iv. 49, does not agree with this statement; he there says that it was instituted in consequence of a league with the Latins. Various uncertain and improbable conjectures of Niebuhr respecting the Feriæ Latinæ may be seen in his Hist. vol. ii. p. 33–6. His statement that they lasted six days (for which number he discovers a syinmetrical reason) is founded on a conjectural restoration of a corrupt passage of Festus, which is rejected by Müller. Itaque scit ejus dies feriatos liberos servosque; p. 194. Niebuhr followed the restored text, which had, 'Itaque per ser eos dies.' Müller reads: . Itaque solitos iis diebus. The words are however too corrupt to serve as the basis of any historical statement. The passage from the Scholiast to Cicero, cited by Niebuhr in n. 65, exhibits the confusion between the two Tarquins, already adverted to. It also speaks of another origin, from the Prisci Latini. Plutarch mentions the addition of a fourth day to the Feriæ Latinæ in the time of Camillus : Camill. 42; Compare Livy, vi. 42. The origins assigned for the Feriæ Latinæ, like those of so many ancient festivals, were doubtless unhistorical. See above, vol. i. p. 512, n. 112.

(230) The received date for the birth of Herodotus (though subject to some doubt) appears to ine to be sufficiently vindicated by the arguments of the critic in the North British Review ; No. XL. p. 108—413.

« PreviousContinue »