office other duties, such as the supervision of the finances, the distribution of
lands, the management of public works, the framing of indirect taxes, and the
oversight of the public and private lives of the citizens, were added to the
office, greatly augmenting its importance in the state. For ninety-four years (B.
C. 445-351) the censorship was held exclusively by patricians, and was, of
course, so managed as to uphold the exclusive privileges of that aristocratic
order. Not until B. C. 351 was the office finally opened to the plebeians.
The next step in the development of popular liberty among the Romans was the
increase in the number of quaestors. This was fixed at four instead of two. Of
these one- half were to remain in the city while the others were to serve as
paymasters with the army.
These political struggles of the fifth century B. C. were frequently marked with
violence and bloodshed. One such scene of special note was that in which Spurius
Maelius was the principal actor. He was a plebeian knight and one of the
wealthiest men of Rome. During the famine of B. C. 440 he went into Etruria and
purchased large supplies of corn, which he sold at a nominal price or distributed
gratuitously to the poor of the city. His philanthropy drew to him the hearts of
the people. When it was seen that he was beloved and applauded the jealous
patricians charged him with aspiring to kingly power. Such was their usual method
with those whom they hated. The rumor was spread abroad that the house of Maelius
had been converted into an arsenal, and that the tribunes had been seduced from
their allegiance to the people. In this factitious emergency the Senate prevailed
upon the consuls to nominate a dictator, and the aged Cincinnatus was again
called to that high office. Maelius was summoned to appear in the Forum and
defend himself against a charge of treason. Knowing the probable issue of the
trial he appealed to the people for protection; but before the cause could be
heard he was assassinated by Caius Servilius Ahala, the master of the horse. The
house of Maelius was leveled to the ground, and his property confiscated to the
state. The people were so enraged at the murder of their friend that Servilius,
in order to save his life, was obliged to go into exile.
It was the peculiarity of these intestine commotions that during their
continuance the enemies of Rome were almost constantly victorious in the field.
It was evident that the soldiers of the Republic had learned to yield in battle
for the express purpose of depriving the consuls of a triumph. The neighboring
nations watched their opportunity, and when they saw the Romans engaged in a
domestic broil, were quick to take advantage of the situation. Such were the
AEquians and the Volscians, who time and again invaded the Roman territory. The
former people, shortly after the death of Maelius, gained possession of Mount
Algidus and devastated a considerable district of Latium. The Latin towns, thus
overrun, appealed to Rome for aid, and the people, at that time in a patriotic
mood, on account of the concessions made to them in the Canuleian Law, rallied to
the defense of the state, and the enemy were driven out of the country.
At this time the plan of establishing military settlements in districts conquered
by the Roman arms became a part of the policy of the state.
To the year B. C. 396 belongs the conquest of the Etruscan town of Veii. For a
long time hostilities had been at intervals carried on with this people. The
neighboring town Fidenae was first taken and destroyed. Veii, the capital city of
Southern Etruria, was then subjected to a siege of ten years' duration. The Roman
army was obliged to continue the siege winter and summer. The struggle was
finally ended by the capture of the city, and the large territory belonging to
the Veientines was added to the Roman dominions. Room was thus afforded for the
organization of four new tribes, and the city, being thus relieved of her surplus
population, as well as enriched by her recent conquests, entered upon a new life,
a new prosperity.
In B. C. 390 the Republic suffered an invasion by the Gauls. This wild, semi-
barbarous people was distributed over the greater part of Western Europe. The
principal seats of their power were Gaul and Britain; but in the