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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD,

better military organization, had increased in influence under the later kings

until its functions were nearly equivalent to those of the old comitia curiata.

It had come to exercise the right of electing all magistrates and of passing, at

least negatively, upon all laws proposed by the consuls and Senate. The laws

proposed by Valerius thus came before the popular assembly for adoption or

rejection.

The legislation in question had respect, first of all, to the census which was to

be used as the basis of the new classification of the citizens. This was a

measure in the interest of the wealthy; but as a balance against this increase of

the power of the rich the consul remitted the poll-tax, which had been imposed on

the poor by Tarquinius Superbus. The port dues which had been collected at Ostia

were lowered, and the salt-works in that vicinity taken in charge by the

government. Valerius also introduced the custom of purchasing public stores of

corn and holding the same against the contingencies of famine, war, and

insurrection. An important political measure was that which secured the filling

of the vacancies in the Senate by the admission thereto of noble plebeians from

the ranks of the knights. These were henceforth distinguished from those who were

patres, or patricians by birth, by the title of conscripti', so that for a long

time the style of address in the Senate was, "Patres et Conscripti," The latter,

however, were not entitled to the purple-bordered robe, the red shoe and gold

ring, which were the badges of the patres.

The first law proposed by Valerius was a kind of a personal liberty statute,

amounting in effect almost to a Habeas Corpus. It provided that any person under

sentence of punishment should have the right of appealing to the people in the

comitia centuriata. As an addendum to this extraordinary concession it was

provided that henceforth within the city limits the axes should be omitted from

the fasces borne by the lictors. For the ax was the emblem of consular power, and

the law proposed to remove it while in the presence of the people. Outside of the

city the fasces were still to contain the ax.

The second Valerian law placed a limit on the power of the magistrate to impose

fines. The sum which might hereafter be assessed for a single penalty was

restricted to the value of five cattle and two sheep. The third law limited the

prerogatives of the consuls by providing for the election of two Quoestors, whose

duty it was to manage the finances of the state. The fourth statute compelled the

magistrates to nominate and receive votes for all proper persons who should be

named as candidates by the people; while the fifth law denounced the penalty of

outlawry against any one who should attempt to become consul without a regular

election. For his championship of these measures Valerius was honored with the

title of Poplicola, or Friend of the People.

The condition of Roman society, however, was at this time exactly such as to make

the plebeians the dependents of the noble patricians, who held large tracts of

land and were wealthy in goods and money. The common people by force of

circumstances became borrowers. When war brought home his spoils into Rome they

were divided among the officers and people of higher rank. Thus the resources of

the rich were constantly augmented, and as constantly this easily gotten wealth

was loaned at high rates of interest to the poor. The laws were framed by the

patrician Senate, and were in the interest-as they have always been-of the money-

lending classes. The code was dreadfully severe against the borrower.

At this time the city of Rome probably had a population of six hundred thousand

souls. Of these, according to the census made by the consul Valerius, there were

a hundred and thirty thousand men capable of bearing arms. This enrollment was

exclusive of freedmen and slaves. It was necessary that this large population

should draw its subsistence from about thirteen square leagues of territory.

Agriculture was the only means of doing so. When a plebeian came home victorious

from war his crops had been neglected, and he was obliged to borrow until the

next season. Then the patrician loaned to him under the following code: "Let him

[the debtor] be summoned; if