Cassius Dio
Roman History


Fragments of Book VI

When the Romans thus fell into discord, their adversaries took courage and came against them. And in the next year, when Marcus Genucius and Gaius Curtius were consuls, they turned against each other. For the popular leaders desired to be consuls, since the patricians were in the habit of becoming tribunes by transference to their order; but the patricians clung tenaciously to the consular office. And they indulged in many words and acts of violence against each other; so, in order to prevent the populace from proceeding to some greater extremity, the nobles yielded to them the substance of authority, though they did not let them share the name; in place of consuls they named them consular tribunes, in order that the honour of the former title might not be sullied by contact with the vulgar throng. It was agreed that the consular tribunes should be chosen from each of the classes in place of the two consuls. However, the name of consul was not lost entirely, but sometimes consuls we appointed and at other times consular tribunes. This, at all events, is the tradition that had come down regarding what took place. Yet not only did the consuls nominate dictators, though themselves far inferior to these, but even the consular tribunes likewise did so sometimes. It is further said that none of those tribunes, though many of them won many victories, ever celebrated a triumph.

It was in this way, then, that consular tribunes came to be chosen at that time. Censors were appointed in the following year, during the consulship of Barbatus and Marcus Macerinus; those chosen were Lucius Papirius and Lucius Sempronius. The reason for their appointment was that the consuls were unable to attend to all their duties, on account of the vast number of these; for the duties now assigned to the censors had until that time been performed by the consuls. Two was the original number of the censors, and they were chosen from the patricians. They held office at first and at the last for five-year periods, but in between for a year and a half; and they came to be greater than the consuls, though they had taken over only a part of the authority of the latter. They had the right to let the public revenues, to supervise roads and public buildings, to make complete records of each man's wealth, and to note and investigate the lives of the citizens, enrolling those deserving of praise in the tribes, in the equestrian order, or in the senate, as seemed to fit the case of each one, and similarly erasing from any class the names of those whose lives were evil; this power was greater than any left to the consuls. They made declarations attested by oath, in regard to every one of their acts, that no such act was prompted by favour or by enmity, but that their deliberations and acts were both the result of their unbiassed opinion of what was advantageous for the commonwealth. They convened the people when laws were to be introduced and for other purposes, and employed all the insignia of the greater offices save lictors. Such was the office of the censors. If any persons did not have their property and themselves registered in the census lists, the censors sold the property and the consuls the men. This arrangement held for a time, but later it was determined that a man once enrolled in the senate should be a senator for life, and that his name should not be erased, unless he had been convicted of some crime and been deprived of his citizenship, or had been shown to be leading an evil life; the names of such persons were erased and others entered in their stead.

Of the occasional magistrates dictators were given first rank, censors second, while masters of the horse had third place. This same principle was followed, whether they were still in office or had retired; for if one descended from a higher office to a lower one, he still retained the rank of his former position undiminished. There was, however, one man, styled princeps of the senate (he would be could protikos by the Greeks), who was superior to all for the time that he was thus honoured (a person was not chosen to this position for life) and surpassed the rest in rank, without, however, wielding any power.

For a time they maintained peace with each other and with the neighbouring tribes; but then a famine overwhelmed them, so severe that some, unable to endure the pangs of hunger, threw themselves into the river, and they fell to quarrelling. The one class charged the prosperous with unfairness in the handling of the grain, and the other class charged the poor men with unwillingness to till the soil. Spurius Maelius, a wealthy knight, observing this, attempted to set up a tyranny, and buying corn from the neighbouring region he lowered the price of it for many and gave it free to many others. In this way he won the friendship of a great many, and procured arms and a bodyguard. And he would have gained control of the city, had not Minucius Augurinus, a patrician, appointed to have charge of the grain-distribution and censured for the dearth of grain, reported the proceeding to the senate. That body, on receiving the information, nominated at once and at that very meeting Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, though past his prime,— he was eighty years old,— to be dictator. But they spent the whole day sitting there, as if engaged in some discussion, to prevent news of their action from getting abroad. At night the dictator made the knights occupy the Capitol and the remaining points of vantage, and then at dawn he sent Gaius Servilius, master of the horse, to Maelius pretending to summon him for some other purpose. But as Maelius suspected something and delayed, Servilius, fearing that he might be rescued by the populace, who were already running together, killed the man, either on his own responsibility or because ordered to do so by the dictator. At this the populace broke into a riot, but Quinctius addressed them and by providing them with grain and refraining from punishing or accusing any one else he stopped the riot.

The Romans, after meeting with many reverses as well as successes in the course of the numerous battles they fought with the Faliscans, came to despise their ancestral rites and turned eagerly to foreign ones with the idea that these would help them. Human nature is for some reason accustomed in trouble to scorn what is familiar, even though it be divine, and to admire the untried. For, believing that they are not helped by the former in their present difficulty, men expect no benefit from it in the future either; but from what is strange they hope to accomplish whatever they may desire, by reason of its novelty.

For they the consular tribunes reached such a pitch of emulation and next of jealousy with one another that they no longer all held office as one body, as had been the custom, but each of them individually in turn; and the consequence was by no means beneficial. Since each one of them had in view his own profit, and not the public weal, and was more willing that the state should be injured, if it so happened, than that his colleagues should obtain credit, many unfortunate occurrences took place.

Democracy consists not in all winning absolutely the same prizes, but in every man obtaining his deserts.

Wars were now waged against them by various nations, in some of which the Romans were victorious within a few days; but with the Etruscans they waged a long-continued contest. Postumius had conquered the Aequi and captured a large city of theirs, but the soldiers neither had had it turned over to them for pillage nor were awarded a share of the plunder when they requested it. Therefore they surrounded and slew the quaestor who was disposing of it, and when Postumius reprimanded them for this and strove to find the assassins, they killed him also. And they assigned to their own use not only the captive territory but all that at the time happened to belong to the public treasury. The uprising would have lasted a very long time but for the fact that war against the Romans was renewed by the Aequi. Alarmed by this situation, they became quiet, endured the punishment for the murders, which touched on a few, and took the field against their opponents, whom they engaged and conquered. For this achievement the nobles distributed the plunder among them, and voted pay first to the infantry and later also to the cavalry. Up to that time they were used to undertaking campaigns without pay and lived at their own expense; now for the first time they began to draw pay.

In a war which arose with the Veientes the Romans won frequent victories and reduced the foe to a state of siege so long as the latter fought merely with their own contingent; but when allies had been added to their force, they came out against the Romans and defeated them. Meanwhile the lake situated close to the Alban Mount, which was shut in by the surrounding hills and had no outlet, overflowed its banks during the siege of Veii to such an extent that it actually poured over the crests of the hills and went rushing down to the sea. The Romans, judging that something supernatural was surely signified by this event, sent to Delphi to consult the oracle about the matter. There was also among the inhabitants of Veii an Etruscan soothsayer whose prophecy coincided with that of the Pythia. Both declared that the city would be captured when the overflowing water should not fall into the sea, but should be used up elsewhere; and they also ordered sacrifices to be performed because of the occurrence. But the Pythian god did not specify to which of the divinities nor in what way these should be performed, while the Etruscan appeared to have the knowledge but would explain nothing. So the Romans who were stationed about the wall from which he was wont to converse with them pretended friendliness toward him, encouraged him to feel thoroughly at ease, and allowed him to walk abroad in security. Thus they succeeded in seizing him and forced him to give all the requisite information. And in accordance with his advice they offered sacrifices, tunnelled the hill, and conducted the superfluous water by an underground channel into the plain, so that all of it was used up there and none ran down into the sea.

As soon as this had been accomplished, Marcus Furius Camillus was chosen dictator. He attacked the city Veii, but, meeting with no success, began at a point remote from the walls and constructed a tunnel leading to the citadel. When at length the mine was completed, and many volunteers had joined him, coming even from Rome, he attacked the city with his combined forces and surrounded the wall on all sides; and while the inhabitants were scattered along its entire circuit other troops secretly got inside through the tunnel. And when the city had been captured, etc., setting aside the tenth of the booty, against the will of the soldiers, he offered it to Apollo, in accordance with a vow he had previous made. He also offered a golden mixing-bowl, fashioned out of the women's jewellery. In return for this an immediate honour was decreed them; this consisted in their riding to the festivals in carriages in place of going on foot, as hitherto. Now the people became indignant and angry at Camillus, partly because he had set aside the tenth of the booty for the god, not at the time of its capture, but after a considerable interval, and partly because he not only celebrated his triumph with great magnificence generally, but was the first Roman to parade with a team of four white horses.

Now the celebration of the triumph was somewhat as follows. When any great success, worthy of a triumph, had been gained, the general was immediately saluted as imperator by the soldiers, and he would bind sprigs of laurel upon the fasces and deliver them to the messengers who announced the victory to the city. On arriving home he would assemble the senate and ask to have the triumph voted him. And if he obtained a vote from the senate and from the people, his title of imperator was confirmed. If he still occupied the office which he had held when he won his victory, he continued to hold it while celebrating the festival; but if his term of office had expired, he received some other title appropriate to the office, since it was forbidden a private individual to hold a triumph.

Tzetzes, Epist. 107, p86
Tzetzes, Chil. 13, 43-50
Arrayed in the triumphal dress and wearing armlets, with a laurel crown upon his head, and holding a branch in his right hand, he called together the people. after praising collectively the troops who had served with him, and some of them individually, he presented them with money and honoured them also with decorations. Upon some he bestowed armlets and spears without the iron; to others he gave crowns, sometimes of gold, sometimes of silver, bearing the name of each man and the representation of his particular feat. For example, if a man had been first to mount a wall, the crown bore the figure of a wall; or if he had also captured some point by storm, both of the feats were depicted. A man might have won a battle at sea, in which case the crown was adorned with ships, or he might have won a cavalry fight and some equestrian figure was represented. He who had rescued a citizen from battle or other peril, or from a siege, had the greatest praise and would receive a crown fashioned of oak, which was esteemed as far more honourable than all the other crowns, whether of silver or of gold.

They cause the celebrator of the triumph to mount a car, smear his face with earth of Sinope or cinnabar (representing blood), to screen his blushes, clasp armlets on his arms, and put a laurel wreath and a branch of laurel in his right hand. Upon his head they also place a crown of some kind of material, having inscribed upon it his exploits or his experiences.

After anointing with cinnabar or else Sinopian earth the man who celebrates a triumph, they place him in a chariot and set upon his head a golden crown showing clearly portrayed all his conquests, and in his hand they place a branch of laurel, and they clasp armlets about his arms. They likewise crown all who have gained distinction with crowns made out of silver material and inscribed with their feats of valour.

And these rewards were not only given to men singly, as the result of individual deeds of prowess, but were also bestowed upon whole companies and armies. A large part of the spoils also was assigned to the soldiers who had taken part in the campaign; but some victors have distributed the spoils even among the entire populace and have devoted them towards the expenses of the festival or turned them over to the treasury; if anything was left over, they would spend it for temples, porticos or some other public work.

After these ceremonies the triumphant general would mount his chariot. Now this chariot did not resemble one used in games or in war, but was fashioned in the shape of a round tower. And he would not be alone in the chariot, but if he had children or relatives, he would make the girls and the infant male children get up besides him in it and place the older ones upon the horses — outriggers as well as the yoke-pair; if there were many of them, they would accompany the procession on chargers, riding along beside the victor. None of the rest rode, but all went on foot wearing laurel wreaths.

Tzetzes, Epist. 107, p86
Tzetzes, Chil. 13, 43-50
A public slave, however, rode with the victor in the chariot itself, holding over him the crown of precious stones set in gold, and kept saying to him, "Look behind!" that is, "Look at what comes after — at the ensuing years of life — and do not be elated or puffed up by your present fortune."

In the chariot a public slave stands behind him holding up the crown and saying in his ear: "See also what comes after."

A public slave, standing in the back part of the chariot, holds up the crown, saying in his ear: "See also what comes after."

Both a bell and a whip were fastened to the chariot, signifying that it was possible for him to meet with misfortune also, to the extent even of being scourged or condemned to death. For it was customary for those who had been condemned to die for any crime to wear a bell, to the end that no one should approach them as they walked along and so be contaminated. Thus arrayed, they entered the city, having at the head of the procession the spoils and trophies and figures representing the captured forts, cities, mountains, rivers, lakes, and seas — everything, in fact, that they had taken. If one day did not suffice for the exhibition out of these things in procession, the celebration was held during a second and a third day. When these adjuncts had gone on their way, the victorious general arrived at the Roman Forum, and after commanding that some of the captives be led to prison and put to death, he rode up to the Capitol.

Tzetzes, Epist. 107, p86
There he performed certain rites and made offerings and dined in the porticos up there, after which he departed homeward toward evening, accompanied by flutes and pipes.

Next he runs thrice about the place in a circle, mounts the stairs on his knees, and there lays aside the garlands. After that he departs home, accompanied by musicians.

Such were the triumphs in olden times; but factions be powerful cliques effected many changes in them.


The Romans, who were besieging the city of the Faliscans, would have consumed much time encamped before it had not an incident of the following nature occurred. A school teacher of the place who instructed a number of children of good family, either under the influence of anger or through hope of gain, led them all outside the wall, ostensibly for some different purpose from his real one. For they had liberty enough left in any case so that the children were still attending school. And he led them to Camillus, saying that in their persons he surrendered to him the whole city; for the inhabitants would no longer hold out when those dearest to them were held prisoners. However, he failed to accomplish anything; for Camillus, mindful of Roman valour and likewise of the vicissitudes in human affairs, would not agree to take them by treachery. Instead, he bound the traitor's hands behind his back and delivered him to the children themselves to lead home again. After this episode the Faliscans held out no longer, but in spite of the fact that they were securely entrenched and had ample resources to continue the war, they nevertheless made terms with him voluntarily. They were confident they should enjoy a remarkable friendship with one, whom, even as an enemy, they had found so just.

Accordingly, Camillus became on this account an object of even greater jealousy to the citizens, and he was indicted by the tribunes on the charge of not having benefited the public treasury with the plunder of Veii; but before the trial he voluntarily withdrew.

To such a degree did not only the populace and all those who were somewhat jealous of his reputation but even his best friends and his relatives feel envy toward him that they did not even attempt to hide it. When he asked some of them to support his cause and others to vote for his acquittal, they refused to assist him with their vote, but promised, in case he were convicted, to impose a fine and to help him pay it. As a result of this he prayed in his anger that the city might come to have need of him; and he went over to the Rutuli before accusation was brought against him.

And even though the people did hate Camillus, as already related, ... And they the Romans prevailed over them the Faliscans and battle ... The Romans were making no progress in the siege ... They would even have given up the siege but for a certain occurrence ... Either out of anger or through hope of gain ... He the schoolmaster declared that in the persons of the boys he surrendered to him the whole city ... They came forth voluntarily and surrendered themselves to Camillus ... As the result of increasing envy the charge was brought against Camillus that he had not enriched the treasury at all with the Etruscan wealth, but had appropriated some of it himself. And they were so enraged against him that none showed pity for him in the calamity that befell him; for one of his sons fell sick and died ... He betook himself to the Rutuli.