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ROME-THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC

hundred new senators should be chosen from the Equites, and that jurymen or

judges should henceforth be chosen from the body thus enlarged. The

measures were met with plausible objections. It was said that there were no

more lands in Italy and Sicily to be colonized. The Senators resented the

proposal to dilute their dignity by the addition of three hundred new

members, and the knights were too shrewd to be deceived by the bait which

dangled before them. Nevertheless the measures of Drusus were supported by

many of the best men of the state, who were willing, in the desperate

condition of the Republic, to accept almost any plan which seemed to

promise relief.

In the midst of great political agitation the laws proposed by the tribune

were carried. Other clauses of more doubtful expediency such as the one

providing for a distribution of corn, or that legalizing the plating of

copper coins in imitation of silver were added before the vote was taken;

but all the provisions were included in one statute, so that, however

objectionable certain parts might be, the whole had to be accepted or

rejected together. So repugnant to the capitalists and traders Were those

enactments relating to the coinage that the consul Philippus induced the

Senate to declare the laws of Drusus unconstitutional. Thus by their own

act did the senators annul the legislation which, at least in its initial

stages, had been leveled against the exclusive rights of the Equestrian

order.

A crisis was now at hand. In about two months more Drusus must retire from

the tribunate. It was necessary, therefore, that his measure for the

enfranchisement of the Latins must be immediately carried, or else fail.

The spirit of partisanship ran so high that civil war seemed imminent.

Nevertheless, Drusus attempted to secure the passage of his bill of

citizenship; but on the day before the meeting of the assembly to vote on

the proposed enactment he was assassinated in his own house. He fell a

victim to the merciless lust of capital, which, blind to its own true

interest, would sooner glut itself to satiety than to secure perpetuity to

the Republic by the loss of a few denarii.

The fall of Drusus, though it disconcerted, did not wholly paralyze the

work which he had undertaken. His colleagues in the tribunate still

supported his measures, and the Italians were called to the capital to aid

in securing the right of franchise. The Marsians rose to the number of ten

thousand men, and marched towards Rome; but they were met en route by

ambassadors of the alarmed Senate, and were promised their rights if they

would return. In many of the towns there were unmistakable symptoms of

revolt. The Roman praetor, Caius Servilius, learning that an insurrection

was brewing in the Picenian town of Asculum, menaced the discontented

people with threats of punishment. Thereupon they rose and put him to

death. The other Romans who lived in Asculum were also killed. Then the

flame of revolt broke out everywhere.

The rebellion had been carefully planned. All the details had been

discussed. Rome was to be destroyed. The town of Corfinium, on the river

Aternus, was, under the new name of Italica, to become the capital of

regenerated Italy. The forms of the government that was to be were all

determined. The Samnite language was to be revived, but Latin was to remain

the medium of official intercourse. The rebels were well armed and

disciplined according to the Roman tactics. The day of the judgment of

battle was at hand.

The peril of the state evoked a certain measure of the old spirit of the

Romans. Marius offered his services to his country, as did also Lucius

Sulla and Publius Sulpicius. In a short time an army of one hundred

thousand men was at the disposal of the consuls, while the forces of the

Latins were fully equal in numbers and discipline. Hostilities began in the

year B. C. 90, and continued with varying successes through several

campaigns. The principal fields of operation were in the region between

Picenum and Campania and in Samnium. At the first onset the results were

rather favorable to the insurgents, but in the next two campaigns the

Romans gained several victories. It appeared that the insurrection would

soon be suppressed and peace restored by force; but Rome had at last

discovered in the struggle the elements of a