Second Secession of the Plebs.The tragic death of Virginia, it is said, aroused the people to vengeance. With his bloody knife in hand, Virginius rushed to the camp outside of the city and called upon the soldiers to resist the infamous power of the decemvirs. With the memory of the Sacred Mount still in mind, the army once more seceded from the city, and, followed by a multitude of citizens, took up their station again on this hill, determined no longer to fight in defense of tyranny. The Roman state seemed again on the point of ruin, and the decemvirs were forced to resign. The old government was restored. Two new consuls were elected, both of whom were friendly to the plebeians. These were Valerius and Horatius, names which the Roman people ever delighted to honor.
The Valerio-Horatian Laws (B.C. 448).The second secession of the plebeians resulted in the overthrow of the decemvirate and the restoration of the consulship; but it also resulted in making the plebeians more respected than they had been before. The patricians were becoming more and more convinced that the plebeians were not only brave in fighting the enemies of Rome, but were also determined to defend their own liberties. The new consuls, Valerius and Horatius, came forward as their champions. Two of the rights of the people had been continually disregarded, namely, the right of appeal to the people, and the right of the tribunes to be sacredly protected in the exercise of their duties. These two rights were now solemnly reaffirmed. But what was quite as important, the assembly of the plebeians (concilium plebis) was now given power to make laws binding upon the whole people. It is supposed that this assembly had by this time been reorganized and based upon the tribal districts so as to include the patricians as well as the plebeians. This newly organized assembly came to be known as the comitia tributa, and we shall see it grow in influence and dignity, until it becomes the most important assembly of the republic. These laws of Valerius and Horatius we may call the “second charter of Roman liberty.”
The Right of Intermarriage.The patricians and plebeians had long lived side by side; but they had been kept socially distinct because it was not legal for them to intermarry. This prejudice was now passing away, as the plebeians were showing a spirit worthy of the patricians themselves. A great step toward equalizing the classes was now taken by the passage of a law (lex Canuleia, B.C. 445) which granted the right of intermarriage between the two orders. This insured their social and civil equality, and paved the way for their political equality, and finally their union into a harmonious people.
SELECTIONS FOR READING
Arnold, Hist., Ch. 13, “The Terentilian Law” (2).1
Ihne, Early Rome, Ch. 18, “Decemvirs and the XII. Tables” (5).
Mommsen, abridged, pp. 58-61, “The Decemvirate” (2).
Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 8, “Efforts to obtain Equal Laws” (1).
Livy, Bk. III., Chs. 36-38, Tyranny of the Second Decemvirate (4).
THE TWELVE TABLES.How and Leigh, p. 70 (1); Shuckburgh, pp. 101-104 (1); Mommsen, Vol. I., pp. 363-368 (2); Liddell, Ch. 11 (1) ; Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Twelve Tables” (8); Morey, Roman Law, pp. 25-43 (15).
1 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.