Roman Republic

Rome in the Early Republic (509 - 241 BC)

Licinio-Sextian Rogations (376 - 367 BC)


Livy gave an extended account of a programme of constitutional reform at Rome that was set out in a series of rogations (formal legislative proposals) put forward the two radical tribunes of the plebs:

  1. C. Licinius Stolo; and

  2. L. Sextius Sextinus Lateranus. 

If Livy is to be believed, they put forward these proposals in 376 BC, and were re-elected in each of the next nine years, finally driving through their passage into law in 367 BC.

As we shall see, one of these laws allowed plebeian nobles like Licinius and Sextius to aspire to consulship, an office that had been open only to patricians in the early Republic, and which had long fallen into disuse.  Thus:

  1. in 376 BC (as in most of the preceding years back to 391 BC), when Licinius and Sextius were elected as tribunes of the plebs:

  2. the most senior elective office in Rome was that of ‘military tribune with consular power’ usually shortened to ‘consular tribune‘, an office that lacked the religious element that was inherent in the consulship;

  3. six men were elected to this office; and

  4. they were all patricians; while

  5. after the Licinio-Sextian Rogations became law in 367 BC:

  6. the most senior elective office in Rome was that of consul;

  7. pairs of consuls were elected each year;

  8. plebeian nobles were frequently elected to the consulship.

This is concrete proof that there was indeed a profound change in the structure of Roman government in 367 BC, and there is no reason to doubt that Licinius and Sextius were indeed responsible for it.  Pairs of consuls were elected in each year from this point until the end of the Republic and the college comprised a patrician and a plebeian consul in each of the eleven years from 367 BC (albeit that) the pattern became erratic thereafter.  Fittingly, the plebeian consul of 367 BC was none other than L. Sextius Sextinus Lateranus, who was followed by C. Licinius Stolo in either 364 0r 361 BC. 

Livy is our main source for both:

  1. the protracted process by which the tribunes’ proposals passed into law; and

  2. the content of the laws themselves.

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 649) observed:

  1. “A large part of [his] narrative seems implausible and self-contradictory, and all too often betrays its late republican origin.”

By Livy’s time, the finer points of Roman government in the 4th century BC were something of a mystery, and historians naturally relied on their knowledge of the subsequent situation when trying to unravel it.  In what follows, I have followed Livy’s narrative, and relied heavily on Stephen Oakley’s analysis of what he characterised (in 1997, at p. 649) as ‘the truth that lies behind the narrative’. 

It is important to bear in mind that the tortuous process that Livy described was not as simple as ‘the plebeians’ versus the ‘the patricians’: as we shall se below, the largely plebeian electorate chose colleges of six patrician consular tribunes in almost every year in which the rogations were on the political agenda.  It is impossible for us (as it was for Livy and his contemporaries) to understand the nuances of socio-economic forces that created this situation.  However, among them must have been the fact that the interests of plebeian nobles such as Licinius and Sextius only occasionally (and then, only tangentially) coincided with those of the plebeian citizenry as a whole.  Furthermore, as we shall see:

  1. Licinius and Sextius could not always rely on the other eight plebeian tribunes elected in any year to support their political agenda; and

  2. in times of military emergency, plebeians of military age (who seem to have been more radical than their class as a whole) could sometimes extract political concessions by obstructing military recruitment.

In the account below, I label years by their ‘Varronian’ number (as in the fasti Capitolini) and associate each with the most senior magisterial college of that year (which is how the Romans themselves defined them).  This allows a measure of chronological coherence (since we can then be reasonably confident about the order in which things occurred), albeit at the expense of precise chronological accuracy.  Thus, for example, as we shall see below, the consular tribunes elected in 370 BC Varronian (the first year of our period for which the record in the fasti Capitolini survive) correspond to those recorded by Diodorus Siculus in the third year of the 103rd Olympiad (366 BC).

Events of 376 BC

Financial  Crisis and its Political Consequences

Livy started his account of events at Rome in 366 BC by lamenting the fact that:

  1. “The tranquillity that now prevailed abroad after [the] successful operations [of 377 BC] was balanced by the violence of the patricians and the miseries of the plebeians: their ability to pay [what they owed] was made more difficult by the fact that payment was [now] compulsory [see below for my guess at what had actually changed].  [Many debtors] no longer had resources [on which to draw], so that, if judgment was given against them, [they were forced to satisfy] their creditors by surrendering their good name and their personal liberty; punishment had taken the place of payment.  [The problem was not restricted to] the humbler classes: even the leading plebeians were reduced to such a state of submission that they:

  2. lacked the spirit to ... stand for office as plebeian magistrates; and

  3. were sill less inclined to seek places alongside the patricians as consular tribunes, an honour that they had previously done their utmost to secure. 

  4. It seemed as though the patricians had recovered, in perpetuity, their monopoly over access to an honour that the plebs had merely usurped for a few years”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 34: 1-4).

Dextor Hoyos (in Yardley and Hoyos, referenced below, at p. 305) observed that:

  1. “In 379 BC, three of that year’s six consular tribunes had been plebeians [see my page on the Sedition of M. Manlius Capitolinus and its Aftermath], so either:

  2. the debt situation had worsened severely between 379 and 376 BC;  or

  3. Livy [exaggerated] for effect. 

  4. But, continuing [financial] hardship for the plebeians cannot be doubted.”

It seems to me that, if 376 BC really had marked the end of a three-year war with the Volsci, then the debt problem might well have re-emerged with a vengeance, when the concessions of 378 BC, which had deferred the ‘war tax’ and prohibited lawsuits for debt recovery for the duration, came to an end: in other words, it is possible that the notice of these concessions was reliable, and that they had simply exacerbated the underlying financial situation.  However, Livy almost certainly exaggerated the extent of the change in the political position of the plebeians: if the statistics given above are broadly correct, then the plebeians had ‘usurped’ the patrician’s monopoly over access to the consular tribuneship to any significant extent only once in the previous two decades or more: in 379 BC (which had seen the election of three plebeians).

Election of Consular Tribunes

In the passage above, Livy clearly implied that consular tribunes had been elected in 367 BC, and that they had all been patricians.  The record for this year in the fasti Capitolini no longer survives, but there is other evidence that this was indeed the case:

  1. Diodorus Siculus recorded that, in this year:

  2. “... four military tribunes with consular power were elected in Rome: L. Papirius; L. (sic) Menenius; Servius Cornelius; and Servius Sulpicius”, ‘Library of History’, 15: 71: 1); and 

  3. the Chronography of 354 AD records “Lanato IIII” and “Praetextato” (for 378 AUC).

We can therefore reasonably assume that at least four patrician consular tribunes were elected:

  1. Licinus Menenius Lanatus IV (see 378 BC, above);

  2. Servius Sulpicius Praetextatus II (see 377 BC, above); and

  3. two men who had been recorded in the fasti Capitolini as having held the same office in 380 BC:

  4. L. Papirius Mugillanus (II in 380 BC; ?III in 376 BC); and

  5. Ser. Cornelius Maluginensis (IV in 380 BC; ?V in 376 BC).

Surprisingly, Livy recorded neither the number elected nor their names: Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 105) suggested that this was:

  1. “... perhaps through carelessness, or perhaps for artistic reasons.”

Instead, having described the miserable plight of the plebeians, he simply observed that:

  1. “As a check to any undue exaltation on the part of the patricians, an incident occurred, which, although insignificant in itself, ... had important consequences”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 34:5).

As we are about to see, this incident involved a petty humiliation suffered by one of the daughters of a patrician, M. Fabius Maximus Ambustus.

M. Fabius Ambustus and his Daughters

According to Livy, the patrician M. Fabius Ambustus, who had served as consular tribune in 381 BC, had given one of this daughters in marriage to:

  1. “... C. Licinius Stolo, a distinguished man, but a plebeian”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 34: 5).  

When she began to feel humiliated by her plebeian marriage following an incident that had apparently happened in 376 BC, Fabius promised her that:

  1. “... she would very soon see, in her own house, the same honours that she [had witnessed in the house of her older sister, who was married to the patrician Ser. Sulpicius Praetextatus].  From that time, he began to form plans with his [plebeian] son-in-law, and he also took into his confidence L. Sextius, an enterprising young man who [lacked nothing in order to fulfil his highest ambitions] except patrician blood”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 34: 10-11).

In other words, Fabius and his young plebeian friends decided to champion the cause of the plebeian poor in order to open the way for plebeian nobles like Licinius and Sextius to participate at the highest level in the management of the state. 

Election of Licinius and Sextius as Tribunes of the Plebs

Fabius, Licinius and Sextius soon recognised that an opportunity of furthering these plans:

  1. “... presented itself in the form of the terrible pressure of debt, a burden that the [plebeians] had no hope of alleviating until men of their own order were able to reach the highest magistracies. ... [As the first step in this direction, Licinius and Sextius] decided to become tribunes of the plebs, so that, once in this office, they could clear for themselves the way to [the more prestigious magistracies]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 35: 1-4).   

Obviously, the details of this story are highly improbable.  However, as Stephen Oakley pointed out:

  1. “Whoever invented [it] in its current form (and it may ... have started as a Fabian [family] legend) is likely to have done so because he knew that Licinius Stolo had married into the Fabii, and wished to make use of that fact: for the connection between Stolo and Fabius Ambustus is likely to be historical.”

There is certainly no reason to doubt that Licinius and Sextius were indeed elected as two of the ten plebeian tribunes of 375 BC.

Licinio-Sextian Rogations (Proposals)

Livy recorded that:

  1. “All the measures that [Licinius and Sextius] brought forward after their election were directed against the power and influence of the patricians and calculated to promote the interests of the plebs:

  2. One dealt with the debts, and provided that the amount paid in interest [on loans] should be deducted from the principal, and the balance repaid in three equal yearly instalments.

  3. The second restricted the occupation of [public] land, and prohibited any one from holding more than 500 iugegra.

  4. The third provided that:

  5. no more [military tribunes with consular power] should be elected, [but that their function should be undertaken by a pair of consuls, as they had been for almost all of 509-445 BC]; and  

  6. [unlike the earlier situation, when the consuls were both patricians], one consul should be elected from each order. 

  7. These were all questions of immense importance, which could not be settled without a tremendous struggle”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 35: 4-6).  

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at p. 340) suggested that Livy’s claim that these proposals were ‘calculated to promote the interests of the plebs’ should be qualified, since:

  1. “... the rogations contained two very different kinds of reform ...”

His point is that, while debt relief and easier access to public land benefitted the plebeian poor, wider access to high political office benefitted only the plebeian nobility (to which [Licinius and Sextius both belonged).  He further suggested that:

  1. “... there is every reason to suppose that Licinius and Sextius found some way of ensuring that [the plebeian electorate] would not be able to enact the laws on land and debt unless they also passed the measure on the consulship.  ... [In other words], the plebeian leaders gained what they wanted because, [as Peter Brunt (referenced below, at p. 55) pointed out], they linked the interests of the masses with those of their own small class.”

Events of 375/1 BC

Cessation of Elections of Consular Tribunes


According to Livy, Roman politics descended into chaos, as a result of which:

  1. “No elections were held beyond those of the tribunes and aediles of the plebs.  Licinius and Sextius ... would not allow any curule magistrates to be appointed [for 375 BC] and, since the plebs constantly re-elected them, and since hey continuously blocked the election of consular tribunes, this dearth of [curule] magistrates lasted ... for five years, [375-70 BC inclusive]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 35: 10).

Diodorus Siculus

  1. 103:2: this was a year in which:

  2. “... anarchy prevailed at Rome because of civil dissensions”, ‘Library of History’, 15: 75: 1); and

  3. 103: 3: Diodorus recorded the election of essentially the same college of consular tribunes as Livy  and the fasti Capitolini recorded for 370 BC (see below).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 647) argued that:

  1. “It is with the five-year anarchy that Livy’s tale becomes truly absurd.  That there was an anarchy is quite probable, but its extension to five years is the result of juggling by ... annalists and chronographers [in the 1st century BC, when the synchronisation of ancient calendars was on the scholarly agenda]. ... We may be certain that Livy himself found it hard to imagine this five year [period without curule magistrates, which would explain why he] described it in only 18 words.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 105) argued that a much briefer period than Livy’s five years of anarchy:

  1. “... is the best way for the modern historian to account for the evidence [in the surviving sources].  ... only Diodorus, with an anarchy of one year, approached the brevity required.  ... [His version] ... is likely to be the oldest, and to reflect some genuine tradition.”

In other words, Livy’s account in 6: 35 almost certainly covers the events of a single year, which I designate 375/1 BC: significantly, Livy recorded nothing that happened outside Rome during what could hardly have been a period of five years. 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 650) reasonably assumed that it was the plebeians who favoured the change from consular tribunes to consuls, albeit that their reasons for this are hard to discern.  It is possibly that the anarchy that Diodorus had presumably found in at least one of his sources for this year marked the start of the movement that apparently culminated in the year that I designate below as 375/1 BC.

Events of 370 BC

In the absence of curule magistrates, the Romans had been unable to enlist men for military service, and Livy recorded that, as a consequence:

  1. “The colonists of Velitrae,  ... [took this opportunity to mount] an attack on Tusculum.  The Tusculani, allies of old and [citizens since 381 BC], begged for  help, and their situation filled both the Senate and the plebs  with a sense of shame”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 1).

This apparently led to the end of the political impasse:

  1. “The tribunes of the plebs gave way, and elections were conducted by an [unnamed] interrex.  The consular tribunes elected were:

  2. L. Furius [DS: L. Furius; Chron 354 AD: Medullino: = L. Furius Medullinus II];

  3. A. Manlius [DS: Paulis (sic) Manlius: = A. Manlius Capitolinus V];

  4. Ser. Sulpicius [fC: ... Praetextatus III; DS: Servius Sulpicius: = Sulpicius Praetextatus III];

  5. Ser. Cornelius [fC: ... Maluginensis VI; DS: Servius Cornelius: = Ser. Cornelius Maluginensis VI]

  6. P. Valerius [fC: ... Publicola V; Chron 354 AD: Potito: = P. Valerius Potitus Poplicola V]; and

  7. C. Valerius  [= C. Valerius Potitus]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 1-3).

In the square brackets above: fC - fasti Capitolini; Chron 354 AD - Chronography of 354 AD (385 AUC); DS = Diodorus Siculus, ‘Library of History’, 15: 76: 1).

Livy quickly summarised the tribunes’ achievements:

  1. “They did not find the plebeians as amenable in the [military] enlistment as they had been in the elections, and they raised an army only after a struggle.  They dislodged the Velitrians from the siege of Tusculum and forced them to take refuge behind their own walls, ... [but the Romans] were unable to capture [Velitrae itself] before the election of new [consular] tribunes”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 4-5).

Events of 369 BC

According to Livy:

  1. “The new consular tribunes were:

  2. Q. Servilius [fC: Q. Servilius Fidenas; Chron 354 AD: Fidenas III; DS: Quintus Servilius = Q. Servilius Fidenas III];

  3. C. Veturius [DS: C. Veturius = C. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus II];

  4. A. Cornelius [DS: Aulus Cornelius = A. Cornelius Cossus];

  5. M. Cornelius [fC: ... Maluginensis VI; Chron 354 AD: Maluginense; DS: M. Cornelius = M. Cornelius Maluginensis];

  6. Q. Quinctius [= Q. Quinctius Cincinnatus]; and

  7. M. Fabius [fC: M. Fabius Ambustus II; DS: M. Fabius = M. Fabius Ambustus II”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 6).

In the square brackets above: fC - fasti Capitolini; Chron 354 AD - Chronography of 354 AD (385 AUC); DS = Diodorus Siculus, ‘Library of History’, 15: 77: 1).

External Affairs

Livy found even less to say about the external affairs in this year:

  1. “Even under these tribunes, nothing worth mentioning took place at Velitrae”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 6).

Putative Eighth Plebeian Tribuneship of Licinius and Sextius

At home:

  1. “... Sextius and Licinius had been re-elected tribunes of the plebs for the 8th time, and, as [consular] tribune, Fabius [Ambutus] ... overtly advocated the adoption of the [three] rogations that he had himself suggested. ... [However, despite his eloquence, a majority of the plebeian tribunes insisted that, since] most of the plebeians were absent at Velitrae with the army, ... the assemblies ought to be put off until the return of the soldiers, so that the entire body of the plebs might vote on matters that concerned them”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 7-8).

Sextius and Licinius had to give way, but they put forward an additional proposal (which was passed in the following year, as discussed below): this new proposal involved:

  1. an increase (from two the ten) in the membership of the priestly college of viri sacris faciundis [men who presided over the sacred rites]; and

  2. plebeian access to this enlarged college.

Events of 368 BC

Election of Consular and Plebeian Tribunes

According to Livy:

  1. “The year passed away before the legions were brought back.  Thus, the new measures were ... left for the new consular tribunes to deal with.  They were:

  2. T. Quinctius [fC: ... Capitolinus; Chron 354 AD: Capitolino; DS: Titus Quinctius = T. Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus];

  3. Ser. Cornelius, [fC: ... Maluginensis VII; DS: Servius Cornelius = Ser. Cornelius Maluginensis VII];

  4. Ser. Sulpicius [fC: ... Praetextatus IV; DS:  Servius Sulpicius = Sp. Servilius Structus];

  5. Sp. Servilius [fC: Sp. Servilius  tSructus; Chron 354 AD:  Structo = Sp. Servilius Structus];

  6. L. Papirius [fC: L. Papirius  Crassus = L. Papirius Crassus]; and

  7. L. Veturius [fC: L. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus = L. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 1).

In the square brackets above: fC - fasti Capitolini; Chron 354 AD - Chronography of 354 AD (386 AUC); DS = Diodorus Siculus, ‘Library of History’, 15: 78: 1).

Putative Ninth Plebeian Tribuneship of Licinius and Sextius

According to Livy:

  1. “The plebs re-elected the same tribunes or, at any rate, [Sextius and Licinius], who had brought forward the new rogations”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 2).

Camillus’ Fourth Dictatorship

Livy’s Accounts

According to Livy:

  1. “At the very beginning of the year, the final stage in the [political] struggle was reached.  When the tribes were summoned and [Licinius and Sextius] refused to be thwarted by the veto of their [apparently pro-patrician] colleagues, the patricians, now thoroughly alarmed, took refuge in their last line of defence: ... they resolved to nominate a dictator, and M. Furius Camillus was nominated; he chose L. Aemilius as his master of the horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 3).

The fasti Capitolini record that Camillus served as dictator for the 4th time in 368 BC, with L. Aemilius Mamercinus as his master of horse and that this was a dictatorship rei gerundae caussa.

According to Livy, Licinius and Sextius then:

  1. “... gave notice of [another ?] meeting of the assembly and summoned the tribes to vote [on the rogations].  Camillus, full of anger and menace and surrounded by a body of patricians, took his seat.  The proceedings commenced as usual with a struggle between:

  2. those who were bringing in the bills [i.e. Licinius and Sextius];

  3. those who were interposing their veto against them [i.e. their pro-patrician colleagues].

  4. The latter were in the stronger legal position, but they were undermined by the popularity of both the rogations and the men who were proposing them”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 5).

The scene was thus set for Camillus to act as the patricians had intended:

  1. “The first tribes were already voting their assent [to the passage of all three rogations] when Camillus, ... [who claimed to be] acting in the interests [of the plebeians] quite as much as in those of the State, ... [ruled that], if ... [Licinius and Sextius were] bent on imposing their measures on the State, as though it had been subjugated in war, [then he would] not allow the tribunician power to work its own destruction”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 6).

In other words, Camillus threatened to use his absolute authority to prevent the ratification of a plebiscite that encompassed all three rogations.  When Licinius and Sextius stood firm:

  1. “... Camillus, excessively angry, sent lictors to disperse the plebeians and threatened, if they [refused to disperse], to bind the fighting men by their military oath and march them out of the City”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 9).

It seems that Camillus did indeed act on this threat: later in his narrative, had Licinius and Sextius look back of these events when they disingenuously claimed reluctance to stand for their putative ninth term of office [see below]:

  1. “They pointed out that they had been fighting now for nine years, ... , [during which time], their rogations (like the tribunes themselves), had grown old and useless:

  2. first the intercession of their [pro-patrician] colleagues had been employed to attack their [rogations];

  3. then the [plebeians of military age] had been sent from Rome to the theatre of war at Velitrae [so that they could not vote for them]; and

  4. finally, they themselves had been menaced with the dictator’s thunderbolt”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 5-7

Camillus’ Muster

The fasti Capitolini record that, before Camillus resigned [see below], he had issued:

  1. “... an edict about military service, according to a decree of the Senate.”

Plutarch similarly recorded that:

  1. “Having discovered on which day [Licinius and Sextius] intended to propose their law, Camillus issued a proclamation making it a day of general muster, and summoned the people from the forum into the Campus Martius, with threats of heavy fines upon the disobedient.   The tribunes [retaliated] by swearing that they would fine him ... if he did not cease trying to rob the people of its vote and its law”, (Life of Camillus’, 39: 3-4).

Livy (at 6: 39: 7) had Camillus succeed in enlisting an army and deploying it in the territory of Velitrae, although, as we shall see, Plutarch had Camillus finally taking Velitrae itself as dictator for the fifth time in the following year.

All three sources agree that Camillus resigned at this point: the likelihood is that, in the original version of these events, he did so:

  1. after the Senate decreed an edict compelling military service (fasti Capitolini); and

  2. in the face of the plebeians’ defiant refusal to comply with it (Plutarch).

Livy’s assertion (at 6: 39: 7) that he actually assembled an army and deployed it in the territory of Velitrae is probably a mistake taken for a source that actually related to his fifth dictatorship.  However, as we shall see, there were other sources that asserted that Camillus’ resignation hah nothing to do with these events.

Camillus’ Resignation

Both Livy and Plutarch had variant sources for the reasons for Camillusl resignation:

  1. Livy recorded that, although the plebs had been alarmed, Licinius and Sextius remained undaunted.  However:

  2. “... while the contest was still undecided he resigned office:

  3. owing to some irregularity in his nomination, as certain writers maintain [which was Livy’s preferred version]; or

  4. because the tribunes [presumably Licinius and Sextius] proposed [to arrange for him to be fined if he] took any action as dictator [to thwart them]”, (History of Rome’, 6: 38: 9).

  5. Plutarch recorded that, when the tribunes [presumably Licinius and Sextius] intended to arrange for him to be fined if he blocked their legislation:

  6. “Then, either:

  7. because he feared a second condemnation to exile, a penalty unbecoming to a man of his years and achievements; or

  8. because he was not able ... to overcome the might of the people, who were now become resistless and invincible;

  9. he withdrew to his house, and after alleging sickness for several days, resigned his office”, (Life of Camillus’, 39: 4).

Camillus’ Fourth Dictatorship: Conclusions

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 648 and note 1) suggested that:

  1. “... even if the dictatorship [of 368 BC] was genuine, no [reliable] information about what [Camillus actually did as dictator and why he resigned] survived.”

He characterised (at p. 86) the accounts that Camillus resigned because he had been threatened with a fine as absurd, and suggested that Livy’s preferred version (that Camillus resigned because of a flaw in his appointment):

  1. “... may be no more than Livy’s own attempt to explain why he achieved so little.”

Finally, he concluded (at p. 687) that:

  1. “It is, in fact, doubtful whether Camillus was [appointed] as dictator in this year.  And, although a defence of the tradition is possible, we must recognise that there may be no factual basis for anything in these passages by Livy and Plutarch.”

Interestingly (as discussed in my page Sack of Rome to Renewal of Peace with the Latins (390 - 358 BC)), Cassius Dio/ Zonzras (‘Roman History’, 7: 23: 10) date Camillus’ 4th dictatorship to 384 BC, during the sedition of M. Manlius Capitolinus, when he (Camillus) was in fact more probably consular tribune for the 5th time.


According to Livy, after Camillus' resignation from his 4th dictatorship and before Manlius' appointment as his replacement [see below]:

  1. “... the tribunes held a council of the plebs as though an interregnum had occurred.  Here, it became evident:

  2. which of the [three rogations] were preferred by the plebs; and

  3. which [was most important to] their tribunes.

  4. [It seemed that the plebs were about to]:

  5. adopt the measures dealing with usury and the allotment of public  land; and

  6. reject that providing that one consul should always be a plebeian. 

  7. [Indeed], the first two measures would probably have been carried into law if [Licinius and Sextius] had not said that they were putting all three  forward en bloc”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 1-2).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at pp. 691-2) pointed out that:

  1. “It is unclear whether we are to think of

  2. a gap of one or more days [after the assembly described above]; or

  3. a bizarre assembly convened only hours after the previous one, [which had presumably been halted when Camillus had resigned].”

As discussed below, I think that this floating passage more probably related to the assembly at which Licinius and Sextius were elected to their putative ninth plebeian tribuneship.

Dictatorship of P. Manlius Capitolinus

Livy (History of Rome’, 6: 38: 10) noted that P. Manlius Capitolinus immediately succeeded Camillus as dictator.  He then recorded that:

  1. ... on his nomination as dictator, [Manlius] strengthened the cause of the plebs by appointing a plebeian, C. Licinius, who had been a consular tribune, as his master of the horse.  I gather that the patricians were much annoyed, but [Manlius] defended his action on the grounds that Licinius was a relative.  He also pointed out that a master of the horse had no more authority than a consular tribune [an office that, according to Livy, Licinius had already held]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 3).

The relevant entry in the fasti Capitolini is damaged and, although it still identifies the dictator as “.... Capitolinus”, the name of his master of horse is lost.  However, the surviving part of the entry records that:

  1. Manlius replaced Camillus as dictator after the latter’s resignation;

  2. although Camillus had been dictator rei gerundae caussa, Manlius was appointed seditionis sedendae et rei gerundae caussa (in order to quell unrest and manage public affairs); and

  3. Manlius’ master of horse was the first plebeian to hold this office.

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 2015, at p. 112) observed that the caussa given for Manlius’ dictatorship is a unique in the surviving parts of the fasti

Both Plutarch (‘Life of Camillus’, 39: 5) and Cassius Dio (‘Roman History’, 7: 29: 5) identified Manlius’ master of horse as C. Licinius Stolo.  However, Livy himself identified him here only by the facts that:

  1. he had previously served as consular tribune; and

  2. he was a relative of Manlius.

According to Livy, Licinius Stolo, the son-in-law of the patrician M. Fabius Ambustus, was already serving as tribune of the plebs for the eighth consecutive year: had Livy also identified Stolo as Manlius ‘ master of horse here, he would surely have made more of Stolo’s political importance and his excellent patrician connections.  Nevertheless, in his account of a speech given by the plebeian P. Decius Mus in 300 BC, Livy had Decius celebrate a number of plebeian ‘firsts’, including:

  1. “... C. Licinius Stolo, ... the first plebeian master of the horse, ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 8: 8).

Other possible candidates for the ‘C. Licinius’ who was the first plebeian master of horse include:

  1. C. Licinius Calvus, consul in either 361 BC (Livy, 7: 8: 9) or 364 BC (fasti Capitolini);

  2. P. Licinius Calvus Esquilinus, who was. at least according to Livy (5: 12: 9-10), was elected as the first plebeian consular tribune in 400 BC.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 692) pointed out that C. Licinius Stolo and C. Licinius Calvus were easily confused because they have the same filiation (C.f. P.n) and were thus virtually homonymous.  He argued that, despite the testimony of Livy (at 10: 8: 8), Plutarch and Cassius Dio in favour of Stolo, Manlius’ master of horse was more likely to have been C. Licinius Calvus.  He acknowledged (in the addendum in Stephen Oakley, referenced below, 2007, at pp. 534-5) that the alternative to this:

  1. “... is to argue that Livy made a mistake [at 6: 39: 3], and he should have written ‘P. Licinio’, a reference to the consular tribune of 396 BC, who would [have been] very old [by 368 BC], although no more so than Camillus.” 

Since Livy himself never identified a consular tribune called C. Licinius, this possibility cannot be discounted.  Dexter Hoyos (referenced below, at p. 307) found P. Licinius Calvus to be a plausible candidate, since:

  1. “... the Romans had high regard for aged experience”.

In short, on the basis of the surviving evidence, the identity of the first plebeian master of horse must remain an open question. 

However, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 651 and note 2) observed:

  1. “Several arguments suggest that [Manlius’] dictatorship ... is genuine [and this represents the scholarly consensus.  Furthermore, the surviving sources are] unanimous that he appointed [the plebeian] C. Licinius (whether Stolo or Calvus) as his master of horse.”

Events of the Putative Ninth Plebeian Tribuneship of Licinius and Sextius

Ultimatum of Licinius and Sextius

According to Livy, Licinius and Sextius disingenuously proclaimed their reluctance to stand for re-election for a putative ninth term of office:

  1. “When notice had been given for the election of plebeian tribunes [for the following year, Licinius and Sextius ... [disingenuously] professed an unwillingness to be re-elected, while furnishing the plebs with the strongest incentives to give them what they pretended not to covet.  They said they had been fighting now for nine years, ... , [during which time, the] measures they had proposed ... (like the tribunes themselves) had grown old and useless”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 5-6).

As noted above, Livy then had them recollect the problems of the previous year, when thy had been obstructed by:

  1. the veto of their fellow tribunes of the plebs;

  2. an ongoing siege of Velitrae, which had allowed Camillus to at least attempt to march their plebeian supporters of military age away from Rome; and

  3. the fulminations of Camillus, which had been hurled against them. 

However, these obstructions had since evaporated and, furthermore: 

  1. “... the dictator [Manlius] had actually given them a presage of plebeian consuls by his appointment of a plebeian master of horse.  However, now, it was the plebs themselves who were obstructing ... their own interests.  They could, if they wished, immediately have:

  2. a city and a forum free of creditors; and

  3. [access to public land] free of unlawful occupation ... ;

  4. [but this prospect would disappear = if] they passed only the measures for their own [immediate] advantage and cut off all hope of office for the men who had introduced them.  So, they must now make up their minds and then declare their decision at the election of the tribunes:

  5. if they decided to enact [all three rogations], there would be some purpose in re-electing Licinius and Sextius, since they would [drive] their proposals through to the end; but

  6. if they decided to pass only [the two rogations that] concerned them directly, then there was no point in [Licinius and Sextius seeking re-election, in which case]:

  7. they would [rather] do without the tribuneship; and

  8. the people would, [in the end, have to] do without the [any of] proposed reforms”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 5-12).

This ‘all or nothing’ ultimatum on the part of Licinius and Sextius is redolent of their attitude in the council of the plebs that, according to Livy (above) had been held before Manlius’ appointment): on this occasion, the plebs had been about to pass the first two rogations while rejecting the third, and

  1. “ ... the first two measures would probably have been carried into law if [Licinius and Sextius] had not said that they were putting all three forward en bloc”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 39: 1-2).

It is also reflected in the claim of Cassius Dio that, as a direct result of Manlius’ appointment of a plebeian master of horse:

  1. “...  certain concessions were made [by the various factions] on other matters, and they would perhaps have become reconciled, had not [Licinius] Stolo, the tribune, made some remark to the effect that they should not drink unless they would eat [i.e., they should not pass the first two rogations unless they would also pass the third] and so persuaded them to ... carry through into law all three of the rogations], as indispensable reforms”, (‘Roman History’, 7: 29: 5).

We might reasonably assume that all three passages reflect the same ultimatum, and that Licinius or Sextius delivered it prior to the meeting of the tribal assembly that would elect the tribunes of the plebs for 367 BC. 

Speech of a Quintessentially Patrician ‘Appius Claudius’

Livy then imagined what Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 646) described as:

  1. “... a typically reactionary speech by Appius Claudius ... [at the tribal assembly, which set out] what the patricians had to loose, [should the third rogations pass into law].”

Livy’s Appius set out his ‘pitch’ to the plebs as follows:

  1. “Even if I did not belong to the gens Claudia and had no patrician blood in my veins, but was simply one of the Quirites [i.e., the people], ... even then, I could not keep silent when I see that [Licinius and Sextius], tribunes for life (sic), ... have reached such a pitch of impudence during the nine years of their ‘reign’ that they are refusing to allow you to vote as you please in the elections and in the enacting of laws.  They say:

  2. ‘You shall [be able to] reappoint us as tribunes for the tenth time, but only on one condition.’

  3. What they are saying is:

  4. ‘[An office that] others seek, we so thoroughly despise that we will not accept it without a heavy premium.’

  5. But what premium have we, [the voters], to pay for the privilge of having ypu, [Licinius and Sextius], as tribunes of the plebs in perpetuity: ‘that we adopt all your rogations en bloc, whether we like or loathe them, and whether they are useful or the opposite’”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 40: 6-9).

Appius’ other main point regarded the religious implications of the election of plebeian consuls: 

  1. “Who has the right to take the auspices in accordance with the usage of our fathers? The patricians, surely: for, not a single plebeian magistrate is elected under auspices. ...We, [the patricians], have the auspices even as private citizens, while you, [the plebeians], do not even possess them as magistrates.  ... [The result of passing the third rogation would be to deprive] the State of the auspices. ... [For example], are pontiffs, augurs and sacrificuli reges (kings of the sacrifices). to be appointed indiscriminately ?”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 41: 5-9).

As we saw above, Livy recorded that, when serving as tribunes of the plebs for the 8th time in 369 BC, Licinius and Sextius had put forward an additional rogation that:

  1. “.. provided that the duumviri sacris faciundis [the two patricians who presided over the sacred rites] should be replaced by an elected board of ten, half of whom should be plebeians and half patricians.  The voting on [this and all of the other outstanding] bills was deferred until the return [to Rome] of the army that was [then] besieging Velitrae”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 37: 12).

It seems odd that Livy did not include the duumviri sacris faciundis in his list of the traditional patrician colleges of priests.

Outcome of the Assembly

Livy recorded that:

  1. “The speech of Appius only achieved the postponement of the voting [on the rogations].  Sextius and Licinius were re-elected for the tenth time:

  2. They carried a law providing that five the decemviri sacris faciundis should be chosen from the patricians and five from the plebeians.  This was regarded as opening the path to the consulship. 

  3. The plebs, satisfied with their victory, made the concession to the patricians and. relinquishing for the moment discussion about the consuls, permitted the election of [consular] tribunes”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 1-3).

Achievements of P. Manlius Capitolinus as Dictator

There is no reason to believe that Manlius resigned prior to the election of the new consular tribunes: indeed, as Mark Wilson (referenced below, at p. 532), he might well have presided over these elections before resigning.  Thus, it is entirely possible that, having appointed a plebeian master of horse, he negotiated a deal in which Licinius and Sextius agreed to the election of consular tribunes for 367 BC in return for some kind of undertaking that all four of their rogations (the original three and the fourth on he decemviri sacris faciundis would be ratified by the Senate (see below).  This might well explain why (as we shall see below):

  1. the largely plebeian electorate returned six patricians as consular tribunes; and

  2. one of them, P. Manlius Capitolinus (for the second time), was probably the dictator himself (see Stephen Oakley, referenced below, 1997, at p. 624-5, p. 651  and p. 716 and Mark Wilson, referenced below, at p. 532).

Thus, it seems that Manlius had succeeded in fulfilling his mandate as dictator seditionis sedendae et rei gerundae caussa (in order to quell unrest and manage public affairs).

Putative Tenth Plebeian Tribuneship of Licinius and Sextius (367 BC)

Livy recorded the names of the six patricians who were elected as consular tribunes for 367 BC as follows:

  1. A. Cornelius (for the 2nd time) [fC: ... Cossus II; Chron 354 AD: Cosso II = A. Cornelius Cossus II];

  2. M. Cornelius (for the 2nd time) [fC: ... Maluginensis = M. Cornelius Maluginensis II];

  3. M. Geganius [fC: ... Macerinus = M. Geganius Macerinus];

  4. P. Manlius  [fC: P. Manlius Capitolinus II = P. Manlius Capitolinus II];

  5. L. Veturius [fC: L. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus II; Chron 354 AD: Grasso = L. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus II]; and

  6. P. Valerius (for the 6th time) [fC :P. Valerius Potitus Publicola VI = P. Valerius Potitus Poplicola VI]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 3).

In the square brackets above: fC - fasti Capitolini; and Chron 354 AD - Chronography of 354 AD (387 AUC).  For whatever reason, Diodorus Siculus did not record the consular tribunes of this year.

Plebeian Access to the Decemviri Sacris Faciundis

As we have seen, as soon as they were re-elected, Licinius and Sextius steered through a plebiscite that:

  1. increased the membership of what had been a patrician college of priests from two to ten; and

  2. provided that half of its members would be patrician and half plebeian.

This would have been a significant victory for the plebeian nobles: as Susan Satterfield (referenced below, at p. 218) observed:

  1. “To many Romans, the complete reorganisation of the duumvirate, a priesthood founded in the monarchical period and therefore even older than the consulship, must have been as startling as any of the tribunes' subsequent reforms.  The priesthood was instantly transformed from the smallest major college in Rome to the largest by far, with more than double the membership of the pontifices and augures.  [From this point] until the passage of the Ogulnian plebiscite in 300 BC, it was the only major priesthood with plebeian members.”

She argued (at pp. 234-5) that many plebeian nobles would have:

  1. “... sought [this] priesthood because it was closely connected to one of their primary goals: the sharing of political power through [access to] the consulship.  Through the decemvirate, they [became custodians of the Sibylline Books and thereby] gained access to Rome's greatest divinatory tool and best-guarded secret.  They [also] became involved in expiation, one of the most important religious duties of the consul, and they assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the pax deorum, the relationship between Rome and its gods. The decemvirate was not a consolation prize ... ; it was intimately connected to the consulship and to the Roman centre of power.”

Gregory Pellam (referenced below, at p. 290) observed that

  1. “... the duties [of the decemviri] were not the same as the auspicia of the consuls, but it could be argued that they were both very similar in nature (i.e., [both involved the] receipt and interpretation of divine communication) ... [He suggested] that, as Livy understood it, the plebeians’ gaining seats in this vital priesthood would have [had] a strong influence on those plebeians who had been reluctant to guarantee one annual consulship for plebeians: if élite plebeians could serve as decemviri sacris faciundis, a position vital for the survival of the Republic in times of crisis, then why, in the minds of plebeians, should they not be allowed to hold the consulship, whose primary obligation was to protect the state from foreign enemies?”

Evidence for the Creation of the Decemvirate in 368 BC

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 652) asserted that:

  1. “This notice is not problematic ... [For example], the date 368 BC [for the change from duumvirate to decemvirate] ... is guaranteed by the absence of  references to the duumviri [sacris faciundis] after this year ...”

In fact:

  1. Livy’s last explicit reference to the duumvirate related to 388 BC, when:

  2. ”... the temple of Mars, which had been vowed in the Gallic War war, was dedicated by T. Quinctius [Cincinnatus Capitolinus], duumviro sacris faciundis”, (‘History of Rome, 6: 5: 8); and

  3. his first explicit reference to the decemvirate after that in the passage under discussion here related to 348 BC, when:

  4. “... pestilence attacked [Rome], and the Senate found it necessary to direct the decemviri to consult the Sibylline Books.  On their advice, a lectisternium [a propitiatory rite that had been introduced in similar circumstances in 399 BC] was held [for the fourth time in Roman history]”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 2).

In other words, it is almost certain that the change from duumvirate to decemvirate took place in the period 388 - 348 BC, but Livy is our only surviving source of the information that the change took place in 368 BC.

Evidence for Plebeian Decemviri Sacris Faciundis

George Szemler (referenced below, p. 28) observed that:

  1. “Originally, all [Roman] priesthoods were of the patrician order ... The college of the decemviri sacris faciundis was most l[probably] opened to the plebeians by the Licinio-Sextian law. The plebeians next secured [access to] the pontificate and the augurate through the lex Ogulnia in 300 BC, in accordance with the gains made after 366 BC.”

Susan Satterfield (referenced below, at p. 226, note 35) observed that:

  1. “Unfortunately, we have almost no evidence of the [identities of viri sacris faciundis]... before ... [300 BC]:

  2. ancient sources identify only two [ of the patrician duumviri] by name:

  3. M. Atilius, a duumvir of the regal period, who was killed by Tarquin for copying Sibylline oracles; and

  4. T. Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus, [in 388 BC, see above]; and ...

  5. we are likewise ill-informed of the identities of the early decemviri; we do not know the names of any of the priests who served between 367 ... and 300 BC ...  If we had some of these names, we might see that this priesthood served as an important means of designating rising political leaders, especially among plebeians, who could not serve in the other priestly colleges.  [Furthermore], our sources identify only two decemviri before 218 BC (when the Second Punic War and Livy's third decade began):

  6. Manius Aemilius Numida; and

  7. M. Livius Salinator.”

In fact, even this relatively late information about the decemviri is not completely reliable: as Satterfield (as above) noted (at p. 228, note 40):

  1. “[A marginal entry in] the fasti Capitolini identifies two magistri decemvirorum for the Ludi Saeculares of 236 BC:

  2. M. Livius Salinator (a plebeian); and

  3. Manius Aemilius Numida (a patrician).

  4. ... This celebration of the Ludi Saeculares was invented by Augustan antiquarians, but the identities of the priests may be accurate for this year.”

In other words, it is possible that the Augustan fabricator of saecular games in 236 BC might well have claimed that two of the actual decemviri of that year had presided over them.  (Furthermore, it is possible that the records that were available to this Augustan fabricator identified Livius and Aemilius as (respectively) the plebeian and patrician magistri of the college in this year.)

In other words, while it is almost certain that plebeians could hold office as decemvir sacris faciundis before 300BC, Livy is our only surviving source of the information that:

  1. the plebeians’ access to the college began in 368 BC; and

  2. five of the serving decemviri were always plebeian.

Plebeian Access to the Decemviri Sacris Faciundis: Conclusions

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 715) argued that Livy mentioned the enlarged college only once more before the end of Book 10 (at 7: 27: 1 - see above):

  1. “... this quirk of our [surviving] evidence is hardly likely to reflect [the] true importance [of the decemviri] in the 4th century BC.

He concluded (at p. 652) that :

  1. “[Livy’s] notice is is not problematic and needs little defence or discussion. ... [Despite the lack of support in the surviving sources], the date  368 BC [for the plebiscite that created the new college] is not problematic ... [albeit that] the details of Livy’s account are ... suspicious ...”

In other words, Livy or his sources might well have incorporated an account of an authentic legislative change in ca. 368 BC to fit in with an otherwise unreliable narrative of the events that led up to the clearly authentic change from consular tribunes to consuls in 367 BC.

Camillus’ Fifth Dictatorship

Appointment in Response to a Gallic Raid ?

According to Livy, soon after the election of the consular tribunes for this year:

  1. “... the City was startled by rumours of the hostile advance of the Gauls.  M. Furius Camillus was nominated dictator for the fifth time ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 4).

The fasti Capitolini record this as a dictatorship rei gerundae caussa (for managing public affairs).  Two other sources support Livy’s account of the reason for this appointment:

  1. According to Plutarch, terror at the news of a Gallic raid:

  2. “... put an end to the dissension in the City, and brought together into conference both the rich and the poor, the Senate and the people.  All,  with one mind, chose Camillus to be dictator for the 5th time”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 40: 2).

  3. According to Cassius Dio/ Zonaras, internal dissension would have continued:

  4. “...  had not news arrived that the Gauls were again marching upon Rome.  Accordingly, [the Romans] dropped all their quarrels with each other, chose Camillus as dictator for the 5th time, and marched against the barbarians”, (‘Roman History’, 7: 24: 10).

However, these two accounts are probably both compressed since, in Livy’s narrative, the dissension in Rome was probably already under control before Camillus’ putative appointment.

There is uncertainty as to the identity of Camillus’ master of horse on this occasion:

  1. According to Livy:

  2. “... he named T. Quinctius Poenus as his master of horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 4).

  3. However, the fasti Capitolini record his master of horse as [T, Quinctius Cincin]natus Capitolinus.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 717) suggested that the fasti are more likely to be correct, and that this T, Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus was perhaps the man of this name who was one of the consular tribunes of 368 BC (see above).  However, he noted (at p. 685) that:

  1. “Decision [between Livy and the fasti Capitolini] on this matter is impossible and, [in any case, much of the surviving] evidence relating to this dictatorship is suspect.” 

In particular, a number of scholars doubt that the authenticity of a Gallic raid on Roman territory in 367 BC.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 364) himself was cautious in this respect: he pointed out that, although the surviving accounts of Camillus’ victory are clearly exaggerated, an incursion into Roman territory in this year by Gallic raiders based in Apulia is not absolutely incredible.  He nevertheless concluded that:

  1. “It is best to remain undecided on [this matter], though inclined to scepticism.”

I discuss Livy’s account of Camillus’ putative Gallic victory in this year in my in my page Sack of Rome to Renewal of Peace with the Latins (390 - 358 BC).  What is important here is that, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997 at p. 651) pointed out, doubts about the authenticity of this raid:

  1. “... [do not] necessarily invalidate the claims of Camillus to a dictatorship in this year; [albeit that], once the details in Livy are rejected, we can have little idea of what he might have achieved.”

I return to this point below.

Camillus’ Return to Rome

According to Livy, when Camillus returned to Rome after his victory over the Gauls:

  1. “By the joint consent of the Senate and plebs, a triumph was decreed to [him]”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 8).

It is likely that a fragmentary entry in the fasti Triumphales for 367 BC relates to this triumph.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 720) observed that:

  1. “At this juncture in Roman history, ... a consensus [as described by Livy between the Senate and the plebs] would have been noteworthy, but it is doubtful if this passage ... [rests] on secure testimony.”

However, it seems to me that, since Manlius had arguably secured consensus in the previous year sufficient to allow:

  1. the appointment of a plebeian master of horse and of five plebeian decemviri sacris faciundis; and

  2. the election of six consular tribunes for the year under discussion here;

it is at least possible that there was a consensus for the award of a triumph to Camillus, assuming, of course, that he had indeed secured a significant victory over Gallic raiders.

Near Secession of the Plebs 

For Cassius Dio/ Zonarus, Camillus’ victory marked the end of his career:

  1. “After this, Camillus returned to Rome and resigned his office.  From this time, the consular tribunes, who had replaced the consuls [of the early Republic], ceased to be elected, and consuls were chosen [once more]: sometimes patricians; sometimes plebeians; and occasionally from both orders at the same time.  Furthermore, a pestilence visited Rome [in 363 BC], in the course of which Camillus died; and the Romans grieved greatly at his death”, (‘Roman History’, 7: 24: 13).

However, both Livy and Plutarch had Camillus remain in office as dictator to deal with a return of the internal dissension  that almost led to a secession of the plebs.  Unfortunately, since both accounts contain gaps, it is necessary to combine them to arrive at a coherent (albeit, not necessarily authentic) narrative of the events that led up to this putative crisis.

As we have seen, Livy recorded that, before Camillus’ appointment as dictator:

  1. Sextius and Licinius were re-elected as plebeian tribunes for the 10th time, apparently after the plebeian electorate had agreed that they would vote fin favour of all three of their original rogations en bloc;  and

  2. immediately after their election:

  3. the plebs passed the  more recent rogation of Licinius and Sextius (which related to plebeian access to the decemviri sacris faciundis) into law;  and 

  4. apparently as a quid pro quo, they did not obstruct the election of six new consular tribunes, all of whom were patrician.

I suggested above that this consensus was probably the work of P. Manlius, dictator seditionis sedendae et rei gerundae caussa (in order to quell unrest and manage public affairs).  Then came:

  1. the Gallic raid;

  2. Camillus’ appointment as dictator (according to the fasti Capitolini, as dictator rei gerundae caussa; and

  3. his victory;

after which, according to Livy, there was a clear consensus that Camillu should celebrate a triumph.   However:

  1. “He had hardly disposed of that war before a more alarming commotion awaited him at home”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 9).

Plutarch agreed that Camillus was appointed to his 5th dictatorship to deal with the Gauls, and that he succeeded in doing so (although, unlike Livy, he did not mention the consequent award of a triumph).  He too had Camillus continue in office to face:

  1. “... the greatest of his civil contests ... , and it was harder to wage now against [men who] had come back flushed with [their Gallic] victory and were bent on electing a plebeian consul, contrary to the established law.  The Senate, which  opposed their demands, would not allow Camillus to [resign his dictatorship], thinking that they could more easily defend their position with the aid of his [dictatorial] power and authority”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 1).

Plutarch then immediately described an unspecified occasion on which:

  1. “... Camillus was seated in state and despatching public business in the Forum, [when] the tribunes of the plebs sent an officer [to summon him to the comitium.  This inflammatory action provoked a riot] ...”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 2).

This was presumably Livy’s ‘commotion’.  In his account, Livy then noted that:

  1. “After tremendous conflicts, Camillus and the Senate were beaten.  The tribunes’ rogations were adopted and, against the wishes of the nobles, an election of consuls was held.  It resulted in the choice of L. Sextius, [who thus became] the first of the plebeians to attain that honour”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 9-10).

It seems incredible that the eventual passage en bloc of the original three rogations put forward by Licinius and Sextius was:

  1. not explicitly mentioned by Plutarch; and

  2. recorded by Livy in such a matter-of-fact way. 

If the combined narrative leading up to this event was even roughly correct, then, there would have been only two possibilities from this point: either:

  1. the patricians would accept this plebiscite; or

  2. the plebeians would secede.

In both accounts, the focus now switched to the reaction of the patricians:

  1. We left Plutarch’s account at the point at which Camillius had been rudely ordered to present himself to the plebeian assembly, apparently after the passage of the rogations, and this had caused a riot in the Forum. He  continued:

  2. “Camillus, perplexed at [these events], did not renounce his office but, taking the senators with him, marched off to their place of meeting [i.e. to the curia].  Before he entered this building, turning to the Capitol, he prayed that the gods would bring the present conflict to the optimum conclusion, solemnly vowing to build a temple to Concord [see below] when the crisis was over.  In the Senate, there was a great conflict of opposing views ...”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 2-3).

  3. Plutarch give no indication as to the subject that the Senate debated, but the opposing views must have been those of :

  4. the patrician senators and other senators who supported them; and

  5. the anti-patrician senators (who might well have been in the minority).

  6. Livy was briefer but more specific and perhaps more dramatic: the passage of the rogations:

  7. “...was not the end of the conflict.  The patricians refused to confirm the appointment [of Sextius as consul for the following year].  Matters were approaching a secession of the plebs ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 9-11).

  8. This implies that ‘the patricians‘ as a class had a veto over the passage of plebiscites, although Livy might have meant that the Senate, with its the pro-patrician majority, had some sort of veto at this time.  He might have had only a hazy idea of what this amounted to.  Modern scholars have a similar problem: for example, Arnaldo Momigliano and Timothy  Cornell (Oxford Classical Dictionary: patrum auctoitas), citing, inter alia,  Livy, 6: 42: 10 , observed that:

  9. Patrum auctoritas was the assent given by the ‘fathers’ (patres) to decisions of the Roman popular assemblies.  The nature of this assent is unclear, but it may have been a matter of confirming that the people's decision contained no technical or religious flaws.  The ‘fathers’ in question were probably only the patrician senators, not the whole Senate.”

In short, it is likely that Camillus found himself presiding over a debate in the Senate as to whether (and, if so how) the Senate should act in order to thwart:

  1. the passage of the third rogation; and

  2. the election of Sextius as the first plebeian consul.

Intervention of Camillus

This was the point at which, according to both Livy and Plutarch, Camillus rescued the Republic:

  1. According to Livy, Camillus:

  2. “... was able to quell the disturbances by arranging a compromise:

  3. the [patricians] made a concession in the matter of a plebeian consul; while

  4. the plebs made a concession in the matter of the appointment of a patrician praetor to administer justice in the City.

  5. Thus, after a long period of conflict, concord between the orders was restored”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 11-12).

  6. According to Plutarch:

  7. “... the milder course prevailed [among the senators, who finally agreed] to elect one of the consuls from their own body.  When [Camillus] announced this to the people, ... they were delighted to be reconciled with the Senate and escorted [him] to his home with loud applause”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 3-4). 

The matter-of-fact nature of these accounts is again unexpected.  In particular, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 722) observed:

  1. “Livy’s brevity at this climatic moment in Roman history is surprising ... ”

However, as he pointed out, there is no reason to doubt the essential accuracy of his account, as evidenced by (inter alia):

  1. “ ... the return of the consulship in 366 BC, [which] was a momentous event.”

Furthermore, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 19) observed:

  1. “The plebeian settlement of 367 BC led to the plebeians gaining eleven consulships in the eleven years 366-56 BC.”

Plutarch ended his account of this year by recording that:

  1. “At the elections held by Camillus:

  2. M. Aemilius was chosen consul from the patricians; and

  3. L. Sextus [became] the first consul [chosen] from the plebeians.

  4. This was the last public act of Camillus [before his death in 365 BC]”, (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 5). 

I discuss the magistrates elected for 366 BC below.  What is significant here is the fact that Plutarch is our only surviving source for the information that Camillus conducted the consular elections. presumably before resigning his office.  Mark Wilson (referenced below, at p. 376) observed that :

  1. “[Camillus’] 5th dictatorship in 367 BC [appears] in the narrative as it is come down to us as the first clear instance of a military dictator being held over to hold elections after the battle [for which he had been appointed].  In this case, these particular, very fraught elections were a part of [a wider] second mandate [that related to] the constitutional crisis over plebeian access to the imperium. ... [Subsequently], holding elections became a simple second mandate [given to dictators in its own right]”.

Commemoration of the Resolution of the Conflict

Temple of Concord ?

On the following day, they held an assembly and voted to build a temple of Concord, as Camillus had vowed, and to have it face the forum and the comitium, to commemorate what had jus happened.

This tradition is reflected in Ovid’s poetic record of the dedication of this temple in the Forum on 16th January:

“Camillus, famed for his Etruscan conquests, had vowed the original Temple [of Concordia here - see below] ... when the people had taken up arms and seceded from the nobles, and Rome had had reason to fear the force of her own aggression”, (‘Fasti’, 1: 641-4, based on the translation by James Frazer, referenced below, at p. 49) .

It is also reflected in the work of L. Ampelius in the early 3rd century AD, which recorded that:

“... the fourth secession [of the plebs], which Sulpicius (sic) Stolo incited, took place in the Forum, ... so that plebeians could become consuls”, (see the translation in Christopher Francese, referenced below, at p. 50).

Extension of the Ludi Romani ?

CamillusThey also voted to add a day to the so‑called Latin festival, and thereafter to extend its celebration to four days ...” (‘Life of Camillus’, 42: 4).


“The Senate decided that this event deserved to be commemorated .... by the celebration of the ludi maximi, [see below] and a fourth day was added to the three previously devoted to them.  The plebeian aediles refused to superintend them, whereupon the younger patricians were unanimous in declaring that they would gladly allow themselves to be appointed aediles for the honour of the immortal gods.  They were universally thanked, and the Senate made a decree that Camillus should ask the people to elect two aediles from amongst the patricians, and that the Senate should confirm all the elections of that year”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 11-12).

Effect of the Licinio-Sextian Laws (366 BC)

Election of Magistrates


Livy then recorded that 366 BC was:

  1. “... noteworthy for the first consulship held by a plebeian, and also for two new magistracies, the praetorship and the curule aedileship, which the patricians created in their own interest as an equivalent for their concession of one consulship to the plebs:

  2. the plebs bestowed ‘their’ consulship on L. Sextius, the man who had secured it for them; while

  3. the patricians secured the praetorship for Sp. Furius, the son of old Camillus, ... and L. Aemilius Mamercus was elected from the patricians as colleague to L. Sextius”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 1: 1-2).

The fasti Capitolini record that, in this year:

  1. “[Consuls] began to be elected from the plebs for the first time: [those elected were]

  2. L. Aemilius] Mamercinus; and

  3. L. Sextius Sextinus Lateranus  (the first from the plebs)”

New Patrician Praetorship

Corey Brennan (referenced below, at pp. 58-63) gave a detailed account of the creation of the patrician praetorship in 367 BC.  He explained (at p. 58) that the praetor:

  1. “... was a third colleague to the two traditional chief magistrates who were now (or were soon to be) called [consuls] ... he could do all that the consuls could do, except for holding the elections of major magistrates  ... and [fulfilling] certain religious obligations. ... In the absence of the consuls, the praetor will have looked after the defence of the City, regulated the Roman civil and criminal process, presided over the Senate and, when necessary, held assemblies of the People.  And, as the holder of imperium, the praetor could exercise a military command when required.”

Brennan noted (at p. 59) that, according to Livy (above):

  1. “The first man to be elected as praetor was Spurius Furius Camillus, the son of the dictator of 367 BC, who had pushed through the great compromise that created the office.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 30) observed that, although Spurius is otherwise unknown, his brother and son are documented in our surviving sources.  He argued that Livy’s notice of his appointment as praetor in 366 BC:

  1. “... is entirely credible, given the prominence of [his father] in 367 BC.”

Read more: 

Wilson M., "The Needed Man: Evolution, Abandonment, and Resurrection of the Roman Dictatorship" (2017) thesis of City University of New York

Cornell T. C., “Crisis and Deformation in the Roman Republic: The Example of the Dictatorship”, in:

  1. Gouschin V. and Rhodes P. (editorss),  “Deformations and Crises of Ancient Civil Communities”, (2015)  Stuttgart, at pp. 101-26

Pellam G., A Peculiar Episode From the 'Struggle of the Orders' ? Livy and the Licinio- Sextian Rogations”, Classical Quarterly, 64:1 (2014), 280-92

Satterfield S., “The ‘Viri Sacris Faciundis’ and the Consulship”, The Classical World, 107:2 (2014) 217-35

Yardley J. C. (translator) and Hoyos D. (introduction and notes), “Livy: Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10”, (2013), Oxford World's Classics

Francese C., “Ancient Rome in So Many Words”, (2007) New York

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume IV: Book X”, (2007) Oxford

Brennan T. C., “The Praetorship in the Roman Republic”, (2000) Oxford

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume II: Books VII and VIII”, (1998) Oxford

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume I: Book VI”, 1997 (Oxford)

Cornell T. C., “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (ca. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London and New York

Szemler G., “Priests of the Roman Republic”, (1972) Brussels

Brunt P., “Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic”, (1971) London

Frazer J. (translator), “Ovid: Fasti’, (1931) Harvard MA

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