A Protest Over a Conquered State

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita  6.38

“When the dictator, surrounded by a squad of patricians, was full of rage and threats as he sat down, the matter was pursued with the typical struggle among the tribunes of the plebs—for some of them were proposing a law while others were proposing it. As much as the force of the veto was more powerful, it was still overcome by the attraction of the laws themselves and the people who sponsored them.

Some were already voting “as you say” at the moment when Camillus said, “Romans, since the passion of the tribunes controls you and not authority, you are practicing that veto earned by the secession of the plebs with the same force by which you obtained it, I will support the veto as dictator no more for the whole republic than for your own sake and I will keep safe what has been overturned with my authority.

If at that point Gaius Licinius and Lucius Sextus yield to their colleagues veto, I will not impose a patrician office on the council of the plebs. But, if they try to force their protest as if over a conquered state, I will not allow the power of the tribunate to effect its own destruction.”

Cum dictator, stipatus agmine patriciorum, plenus irae minarumque consedisset atque ageretur res solito primum certamine inter se tribunorum plebi ferentium legem intercedentiumque et, quanto iure potentior intercessio erat, tantum vinceretur favore legum ipsarum latorumque et “uti rogas” primae tum Camillus “Quando quidem” inquit, “Quirites, iam vos tribunicia libido, non potestas regit, et intercessionem secessione quondam plebis partam vobis eadem vi facitis inritam qua peperistis, non rei publicae magis universae quam vestra causa dictator intercessioni adero eversumque imperio tutabor. Itaque si C. Licinius et L. Sextius intercessioni collegarum cedunt, nihil patricium magistratum inseram concilio plebis; si adversus intercessionem tamquam captae civitati leges imponere tendent, vim tribuniciam a se ipsa dissolvi non patiar.”

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