Episode 86 – Volero and Laetorius

Our jaunt through the history of ancient Rome continues apace! In this episode we cover c. 472-1 BCE. Dr Radness is reading Livy and Dr G is reading Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the comparisons of our sources is quite something! The main stars are the tribunes Volero and Laertorius.

Our Starring Players

  • Lucius Pinarius Mamercinus Rufus and Publius Furius Medullinus Fusus, the consuls of c. 472 BCE
  • Titus Quintius (Quinctius) Capitolinus Barbatus and Appius Claudius Sabinus, the consuls of c. 471 BCE
  • Volero Publius and Gaius Laertorius, our plebeian heroes.
  • The Vestal Virgin Urbinia, noble or not?

Hark, Pestilence!

Dr G gets excited about disease running rampant in Rome and connections with the Vestal Virgins, particularly Urbinia. The pestilence seems to be attacking pregnant women leading to widespread fear. This leads to a discussion of the vagaries of pontifical investigations into the Vestal college. But it is significant that Livy doesn’t mention it and the pestilence seems to be something of a narrative device for Dionysius…

The Tribunes Make Their Move

Volero experiences a political rise in fortune becoming tribune of the plebs. And boy does he go for it! We delve into the differences between the comitia curiata and the comitia tributa because Volero starts to push for changes to the voting system for tribunes. This proposal garners quite a lot of tribunician support. But it will come as no surprise that this move doesn’t sit well with the patricians.

While the patricians stall proceedings, Volero is chosen tribune for a second time. The upshot of this is that the tribunes need to push for changes to the voting system under the highly traditional patrician Appius Claudius. Fortunately, perhaps for the plebeians, Titus Quinctius, is more amenable to their plight.

Politics and Violence

Dr Radness gets political as Gaius Laetorius takes a highly critical stance against Appius Claudius in Livy’s account. Unfortunately he also seems to trail off while in the middle of his invective! With threats of violence and death on the table, the scene is set for some great clashes. Appius criticises the plebeians. Laertorius hits back with some great counter-points. It isn’t long before the situation descends into public violence.

Learn all about how this plays out here: Volero and Laetorius

Relief of a lictor – Garden of Museo archeologico a Verona © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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