[Illustration: VIEW OF A ROMAN HARBOR.]
However, the tribune Publilius gained for the plebeians that there should be five tribunes instead of two, and made a change in the manner of electing them which prevented the patricians from interfering. Also it was decreed that to interrupt a tribune in a public speech deserved death. But whenever an Appius Claudius was consul he took his revenge, and was cruelly severe, especially in the camp, where the consul as general had much more power than in Rome. Again the angry plebeians would not fight, but threw down their arms in sight of the enemy. Claudius scourged and beheaded; they endured grimly and silently, knowing that when he returned to Rome and his consulate was over their tribunes would call him to account. And so they did, and before all the tribes of Rome summoned him to answer for his savage treatment of free Roman citizens. He made a violent answer, but he saw how it would go with him, and put himself to death to avoid the sentence. So were the Romans proving again and again the truth of Agrippa’s parable, that nothing can go well with body or members unless each will be ready to serve the other.
CORIOLANUS AND CINCINNATUS.
All the time these struggles were going on between the patricians and the plebeians at home, there were wars with the neighboring tribes, the Volscians, the Veians, the Latins, and the Etruscans. Every spring the fighting men went out, attacked their neighbors, drove off their cattle, and tried to take some town; then fought a battle, and went home to reap the harvest, gather the grapes and olives in the autumn, and attend to public business and vote for the magistrates in the winter. They were small wars, but famous men fought in them. In a war against the Volscians, when Cominius was consul, he was besieging a city called Corioli, when news came that the men of Antium were marching against him, and in their first attack on the walls the Romans were beaten off, but a gallant young patrician, descended from the king Ancus Marcius, Caius Marcius by name, rallied them and led them back with such spirit that the place was taken before the hostile army came up; then he fought among the foremost and gained the victory. When he was brought to the consul’s tent covered with wounds, Cominius did all he could to show his gratitude—set on the young man’s head the crown of victory, gave him the surname of Coriolanus in honor of his exploits, and granted him the tenth part of the spoil of ten prisoners. Of them, however, Coriolanus only accepted one, an old friend of the family, whom he set at liberty at once. Afterwards, when there was a great famine in Rome, Coriolanus led an expedition to Antium, and brought away quantities of corn and cattle, which he distributed freely, keeping none for himself.