The complex relationship between the patricians and plebeians is central to our appreciation of the 460s BCE. In this episode we’ll get to consider the complexities first hand with the entrance of Caeso Quinctius (remember this name, he’s going places!).
We jump back into the narrative history of c. 461 BCE with our guides of the moment, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Both are writing long after these events, which means that their accounts leave a lot to be desired at times. Nevertheless, both are interested in presenting a narrative on the theme of power. How is it distributed? Who has it and who doesn’t? And what are the mechanisms of political power in this system of armies, consuls, patricians, and plebeians?
Young Versus Old?
Livy makes mention of the some generational differences in attitude of the elder patricians and their scions. These simmering tensions influence the way politics plays out in the forum. Dionysius is more interested in discoursing upon the variety of patrician attitudes towards the tribunes, including trying to undermine their legitimacy by noting that they have no connection to the gods. It’s at this point that the young patricians start to emerge with a reputation for public violence…
Enter Caeso Quinctius
Young, handsome, dangerous, and patrician – he not only has a reputation for words, but he seems like the kinda man who’d back himself in a fight. As a ringleader amongst the young patricians, Quinctius has earned himself a bit of a reputation. Things start to get rough for this youthful specimen of Roman masculinity when Aulus Verginius, tribune of the plebs, seeks to bring charges against him…
Our Key Players
- Publius Volumnius M. f. M. n. Amintinus Gallus (pat.)
- Servius Sulpicius – f. Ser. n. Camerinus Cornutus (pat.)
Tribune of the Plebs
- Aulus Verginius
- Marcus Volscius
- Caeso Quinctius
- Lucius Quinctius “Cincinnatus”
Lintott, A. W. 1970. ‘The Traditions of Violence in the Annals of the Early Roman Republic’ Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 19.1.12-29