Finally, Plebeians have a Consul of their own. And just about in the right moment, because the Samnites are knocking on Rome’s doors. We also see the passing of Marcus Furius Camillus.
Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.
The Tale of Rome, Episode 29 — The First Plebeian Consul.
We are in the year 368 BC.
A young man of high stature, named Lucius Sextus Lateranus, dismounted from his horse in front of the Senate building. Three big parchments of paper were rolled under his shoulder.
Lucius Sextus Lateranus was a Tribune of the Plebes.
In other words, he was automatically an enemy of 100% of Rome’s Patricians, and nothing that was in his possession was welcome in the Senate.
Much less, three parchments, containing laws that would change Rome.
When Lucius Sextus Lateranus walked up those stairs, he was conscious that all Rome was staring at him.
Three of his projects were about to become laws, and this time, not even Camillus himself would get in the way.
The first law ruled all that all moneys paid in the form of interest, became the capital of a debt, and thus the payment of debts would no longer be like a treadmill, or a mule tied to a post, endlessly turning and grinding grain.
The second law forbade any person, Patrician or Plebeian, to possess more than 300 acres of unused land, within the confines of Rome.
It also forbade having more than 100 cows, or goats, using public lands surrounding Rome.
The third law — the most important one, said that one of the Consuls elected every year in Rome, was to be of Plebeian origin.
Patricians knew they were going to lose, and they sent for Marcus Furius Camillus to save them, once more.
So, while the deliberations of all that began, secret messengers went at full speed toward Camillus’ residence.
If you look at any chronological map of the history of Rome from the 4th Century BC, the first two things you will notice is — ONE — the year 390 — the year of the looting, and — TWO — a gap that goes from 375 to 370 BC.
Yep. A gap of five years.
There were no Consuls, or Tribunes in Rome during those years, according to Livy.
It’s like Rome skipped those years. A total vacuum.
And to explain this — as always, there are two versions.
On one hand, Livy used those years to reconcile his own dates, that is, the stuff that he has been writing in his first five books, with the reality of what was happening, because now the chronicles were true, and impossible to hide, deny, or invent. So, he found that his tale was some five years — off record.
So, a gap.
The other version is that, here there was a space where certain Plebeian Tribunes blocked votes in the Roman Senate, to the point where they gave a veto to each and every one of the decisions taken by Senators.