Episode 138 – The Four Horsemen

This episode, we are dealing with 422 and 421 BCE. The previous year had been a very dramatic for Rome. They seem to have come perilously close to a disastrous military defeat. Luckily, they had the four horsemen on their side…

“The Four Horsemen” is our affectionate name for the group of cavalry commanders who dismounted and led the Roman army on foot when everything turned against them during the battle against the Volsci in 423 BCE. The most notable amongst them was a plebeian hero Sextus Tempanius.

In 422 BCE, these men were elected to serve as plebeian tribunes. But will they continue to be exalted by the Roman people? Or will they demand change from the patricians and become just as troublesome as many of their predecessors?

Join us as we explore the fallout from the Volscian conflict.

Episode 138 – The Four Horsemen

Things to Listen Out For:

  • Bad Italian accents
  • Aequians coming out of nowhere
  • Angry patricians acting like your parents
  • Too many interreges to count (or name apparently)
  • Moderatio everywhere

Need a more detailed recap of Sempronius’ misdeeds? Check out our previous episode on 423 BCE.

Our Players 422 BCE

Military Tribunes with Consular Power

  • L. Manlius – f. – n. Capitolinus (Pat)
  • Q. Antonius (T.f. – n.) Merenda
  • L. Papirius (L.?f. – n.) Mugillanus (Pat) Cos. 427

Tribunes of the Plebs

  • (Ti.) Antintius
  • (M.) Asellius
  • (Ti.) Spurillius
  • Sex. Tempanius
  • L. Hortensius


  • C. Sempronius – f. – n. Atratinus (Pat)

Our Players 421 BCE


  • Cn. (or N.) Fabius Q.f.M.n. Vibulanus (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 415, 407
  • T. Quinctius T.f.L.n. Capitolinus Barbatus (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 405


  • Lucius Papirius Mugillanus
Four bronze horses known as the "Triumphal Quadriga". Thought to be created in the first or second century CE but modelled on classical Greek sculptures.

The “Horses of Saint Mark”, also known as the “Triumphal Quadriga” or “Horses of the Hippodrome of Constantinople”. The bronze sculptures are thought to date to the second or third centuries CE and modelled on much earlier statues from classical Greece c. fourth century BCE. The precise date is uncertain. Photo credit to Tteske via Wikimedia Commons.

Our Sources

Sound Credits

Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman. Sound effects are courtesy of Pixabay and Orange Free Sounds.

Automated Transcript

Dr Rad 0:16
Welcome to The Partial Historians,

Dr G 0:19
we explore all the details of ancient Rome.

Dr Rad 0:23
Everything from the political scandals, the levels as the battles waged, and when citizens turn against each other. I’m Dr. Rad.

Dr G 0:33
And I’m Dr. G. We consider Rome as the Romans saw it by reading different authors from the ancient past and comparing their stories.

Dr Rad 0:43
Join us as we trace the journey of Rome from the founding of the city. Hello, and welcome to a brand new episode of the Partial Historians. I am one of your hosts, Dr. Rad.

Dr G 1:12
And I am Dr. G. And we are following the history of Rome from the founding of the city.

Dr Rad 1:19
Boy, are we and you know what? We’re getting so close to 100 years of the Republic.

Dr G 1:25
Maybe we should do a special episode 100 year reap recap on the early republic.

Dr Rad 1:29
Totally doable. It’s only taken us what seven years to get here. That’s gonna be fine. Yeah, stay tuned. Watch this space. Yeah. So Dr G, in our grand narrative of Rome’s history. Last episode, we were up to 423 BCE, and it was actually kind of a memorable year.

Dr G 1:47
Yeah, some things happened, particularly with Sempronius Atratinus, who was one of the consuls for that year.

Dr Rad 1:55
He was groped into waging a military campaign, and it didn’t go so well for him against the Volscian strategy.

Dr G 2:04
And he seems to have come into a bit of a cropper with the cavalry in some regard, maybe not paying attention to where they are maybe getting cut off from them. Yeah. And anyway, one of the military tribunes saves the day, Tempanius.

Dr Rad 2:17
Yeah, one of the cavalry decuriones.

Dr G 2:21
I love a good decurio.

Dr Rad 2:22
Yeah, yeah, he is the saviour of the day. And it really looked for a second like Rome was going to be slaughtered. And instead Tampanius Very unusual name managed to turn the tide, at least to the extent that it was a draw, that it was safe to run away, and find a nice place to get another day as they like to say so. And then, of course, when they got back, everyone was like, what happened out there and they tried to work Tempanius into testifying against Sempronius for like his gross incompetence, but he refused, Dr G. A man of honour through and through.

Dr G 3:00
And I think what we’re gonna see as a bit of foreshadowing for what’s coming up is some of the fallout from 423 in this year coming up.

Dr Rad 3:07
Yeah, I think the tribune of the plebs are gonna like walk away from such a ripe case of patrician incompetence. How could they?

Dr G 3:16
Stand firm tribunes of the plebs! Stand firm.

Dr Rad 3:20
Yeah. So, with that under our belts, let’s dive in to 422 BCE

Dr G 3:32
422 BCE! What are time to be alive for a Roman.

Dr Rad 3:37
Is it though? Do you have any source material?

Dr G 3:42
I mean, it’s been thin on the ground for a while. Let’s just say that the Fasti Capitolini has a little bit of information.

Dr Rad 3:52

Dr G 3:53
I have a little excerpt from Valerius Maximus, which might be exactly the same excerpt as I had for the previous year.

Dr Rad 3:59
I was gonna say!

Dr G 4:00
Diodorus Siculus is missing. And Dionysius of Halicarnassus who can say who can say?

Dr Rad 4:07
Siculus is missing now?

Dr G 4:08
Well yeah, yeah.

Dr Rad 4:10
You know what, I’m starting to think that the sources aren’t missing, you’re just careless.

Dr G 4:16
I’ve decided to no longer prep for episodes. I’m just rocking up.

Dr Rad 4:20
Alright, well, with that in mind, shall we perhaps just start with the magistrates? And then I will give you what Livy has to offer.

Dr G 4:28
Yeah, yeah, I’m super excited. So what I’ve tried to do to compensate for my absolute lack of source material is, first of all, consult Broughton, who has the list of who’s in what position is the year that we even have any idea about-

Dr Rad 4:40

Dr G 4:43
Me and Broughton. I mean, it might be 1950, but I’m happy. And from that point onwards, I might just interject every now and then with a little bit of tidbit about names.

Dr Rad 4:56
You know, my Latin is subpar. So let’s do it.

Dr G 5:02
Alright, so we’ve got some military tribunes with consular power.

Dr Rad 5:06

Dr G 5:07
Sometimes you might hear if these, listeners, as referred to as “consular tribunes”, that’s fine. Those two titles are interchangeable. We’ve got Lucius Manlius Capitolinus. We’ve got Quintus Antonius Merenda. And Lucius Papirius Mugillanus.

Dr Rad 5:27
You got my hopes that for a second there, Dr. G, when you said that we had military tribunes with consular power, and yet, I feel like every name on that list is patrician.

Dr G 5:37
Yes, yeah. Although Antonius is a plebeian name, so Quintus Antonius Merenda, “Antonius” is a plebeian gens,

Dr Rad 5:46

Dr G 5:47
But there is like problems with this because our literary sources – unreliable though they may be and controversial for their record rejections into the past, etc, etc, all the usual caveats. The feeling from the ground from those writers looking back at this period is that the first plebeian tribute with consular power doesn’t get elected until 400 BCE, so we’re a little ways away from that at the moment. Yeah, so who is this Antonius? I don’t know.

Dr Rad 6:18
Hmm. I wonder if he’s a distant relative of Mark Antony.

Dr G 6:22
Surely. Does he have the nose? Let’s check for the nose. So they are our military tribunes.

Dr Rad 6:30

Dr G 6:30
Then we’ve got a nice little list of tribunes of the plebs.

Dr Rad 6:35
I thought you might say this.

Dr G 6:36
Yeah. Which is pretty exciting. We’ve got a guy called Tiberius Antintius, so we’re expecting plebeian names in this section.

Dr Rad 6:43
For sure.

Dr G 6:44
Marcus Asellius. Tiberius Spurillius

Dr Rad 6:49
Sounds like a pasta

Dr G 6:49
or Spurillus.

Dr Rad 6:51
Less like a pasta.

Dr G 6:53
And a name that may be familiar to you, Sextus Tempanius.

Dr Rad 6:57
Well, of course, I mean, you know, he was the hero of the previous year, of course, he’s gonna wind up being a tribune of the plebs.

Dr G 7:03
The hero of the previous year now in charge on a political front, not a military front.

Dr Rad 7:08
There is a real pattern with these plebeians that rise to the top in our sources, and that is they have this moment in the sun and they always end up being a tribune afterwards.

Dr G 7:19
Yeah, it’s a classic crossover. It’s the – what would be the modern equivalent – the influencer to twitch host? I don’t know.


I’m not sure

Dr Rad 7:30
I didn’t even know what half those words meant. So good job.

Dr G 7:33
I’m not going to pretend I understand any more than what I just said. There are other notables for this year, obviously, Gaius Sempronius Atratinus, consul of the previous year, is going to have a bit of a feature, and somebody called Lucius Hortensius. And you may think to yourself, well, you might know what’s going on the narrative. I’ve got no idea what’s going on with Hortensius in the narrative. But apparently, this guy is also a plebeian, or at least that’s what the name suggests.

Dr Rad 8:04
It does. It does.

Dr G 8:06
But I’ll go into the etymology of that later.

Dr Rad 8:09
Good. Good, because I also have something to say about that name. Okay, so the narrative of all of this, whilst the consuls are away, the plebeians decide to elect this array of tribunes, according to Livy. So this is where we get our Tempanius, our Asellius, our Antistius, and our Spurillus, okay. Now, all of these men, not just Tempanius had allegedly been chosen to lead the cavalry, when they had been forced to dismount from their horses and therefore quite frankly, become infantry against the Volscians.

Dr G 8:43
So all of these troops and some of the plebs are former cavalry leaders? Okay.

Dr Rad 8:49

Dr G 8:49
Oh boy.

Dr Rad 8:50
In fact-

Unknown Speaker 8:51
The four horsemen

Dr Rad 8:51
I was gonna say, the four horsemen.

Dr G 8:53
Is there an apocalypse coming to Rome.

Dr Rad 8:55
It was almost an apocalypse, let’s be honest. So, I have actually looked into this a little bit. And the commentary that I’m consulting Ogilvie says that this is such a weird detail for Livy to have included it must be true.

Dr G 9:12
So strange.

Dr Rad 9:13
Yeah, I think I think he’s referring to the whole idea of obviously them, you know, dismounting and being chosen to lead in some capacity. And that would make sense because Tempanius couldn’t possibly I don’t think have been the only person who was in charge of the cavalry that particular day.

Dr G 9:29
Ah, he was the only one who turns up in the story.

Dr Rad 9:31
Until this moment, Dr G. And he was surrounded by people anyway. The senate sensed – because they’ve so got their finger on the pulse of the people – but there’s some negativity in Rome after the whole Sempronius affair.

Dr G 9:47
The vibes are off

Dr Rad 9:48
The vibes are off. And they’re like you know what? Let’s just not have consuls. It’ll make them feel better.

Dr G 9:58
I mean, we’ll just put patricians in power. But not consular power.

Dr Rad 10:03
That would be an insult too great. Salt, wounds, bad idea. So they decide instead on military tribunes with consular powers and it’s thus that we get the names that you mentioned earlier, some of which are very familiar like Capitolinus.

Dr G 10:21
Capitolinus is a pretty familiar name. We’ve come across those a few times. This is the first time I think we’ve come across an Antonius Merenda

Dr Rad 10:27
Agreed, that is a weird name.

Dr G 10:29
But Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, he was consul in 427.

Dr Rad 10:34

Dr G 10:35
And seems to have been related to a guy who was consul in 443 and another Papirius.

Dr Rad 10:42
Yeah, we’ve heard the name Papirius. We’ve definitely heard Mugillanus before.

Dr G 10:46
Yeah, so there is also a generational legacy here where it’s like there is a flow through of patricians from certain famines coming into power, apparently, according to our sources.

Dr Rad 10:56
Yeah. And therefore, this makes it an entirely meaningless gesture on behalf.

Dr G 11:03
Put all our friends into power to keep you happy. Are you happy?

Dr Rad 11:07
We’ll just label it differently. Anyway, so at the start of the year, one of the tribune of the plebs, who was not mentioned as being part of the Four Horsemen gang – Lucius Hortensius – decides he’s going to go after Gaius Sempronius, the idiot of the previous year who had been such a terrible commander, take the floor, Dr. G.

Dr G 11:30
So Lucius Hortensius is also a tribune of the plebs?

Dr Rad 11:33
He is, but he’s not from the original gang.

Dr G 11:37
Okay, so he’s not one of these four horsemen

Dr Rad 11:40
He is not.

Dr G 11:42
And this may explain why he’s doing the prosecution, because he represents a slightly different political faction, maybe?

Dr Rad 11:48
Oh, he definitely does. Like there’s a whole narrative around this, but I thought you might want to say something about his name.

Dr G 11:54
Yeah, I do. I do. Yes. So the temptation is always to be like, Hortensius, it must come from “hortus” “garden”.

Dr Rad 12:03

Dr G 12:04
Yeah, a beautiful Latin word

Dr Rad 12:06
Didn’t even occur to me because my Latin is so poor.

Dr G 12:08
But that is apparently not where this name comes from. It is thought to come from an ancient Roman town called Hortense or Hortenses.

Dr Rad 12:18

Dr G 12:20
That is somewhere in central Italy. But, sadly, location unconfirmed.

Dr Rad 12:26
Typical. Well, I have a little bit more to add to that, which is that although the name Hortensius probably sounds very familiar to you, and I, because this family becomes quite well known in the later Republic.

Dr G 12:41
These – this family will make a reappearance. This particular Hortensius seems to be the earliest mention of a Hortensius we get in our sources, but scholarship generally discounts this guy as being real.

Dr Rad 12:55
I was gonna say, to say, I know how you feel when I say that these people aren’t real. Is that to make reality? You know, bend. But yeah, there is no other Hortensius mentioned in the sources for hundreds of years.

Dr G 13:09
Yeah. So scholars tend to err on the side of caution here and be like, this guy might not be real.

Dr Rad 13:17
Well, I mean, especially because we know what the Romans are like with their names.

Dr G 13:21
Well, yeah. So the Romans have this idea, much like in the way that they assume people’s characters based on their their appearance. They also assume character based on family. So there’s this idea that there’s hereditary elements of personality that come through. So the acts of this guy might be just a retrojection of the sorts of things that Hortensii are thought to do later on.

Dr Rad 13:46
Yes. Well, the interesting thing is there will eventually be a connection between the Sempronii and the Hortensii in the later Republic. So it’s possible that the reason this particular name has been selected is because there’s this interesting thing happening –

Dr G 14:06
Are you telling me this is all just foreshadowing?

Dr Rad 14:10
Foreshadow, foreshadow. I was like, for centuries for centuries. Okay, so what basically ends up happening in Livy’s account is that the four horsemen (of the apocalypse, I can’t stop it) beg Hortensius not to persecute Sempronius.

Dr G 14:26
He’s our man. We love him. Just doing his best. It was really tough thing. You weren’t there on the battlefield. You didn’t see how this was going down? How dare you step in? He’s not incompetent. He tried his best – it was difficult circumstances. And we know we didn’t prepare before the battle, but it’s not his fault. It’s not his fault!

Dr Rad 14:42
That’s exactly what they say. Literally word for word. Like it’s just bad luck. Anybody could have bad luck on a battlefield. It’s a battlefield, man. You weren’t there. You didn’t see.

Dr G 14:52
The plan is only as good as the first moment of combat.

Dr Rad 14:55

Dr G 14:56
Shhh, we didn’t have a plan.

Dr Rad 14:58
We were fighting at midnight. I mean, sure by then it’ll all gone to hell. But come on!

Dr G 15:03
You can’t even see what you’re doing under those conditions.

Dr Rad 15:05
It is black as night. The enemy just appeared out of nowhere man. Anyway Hortensius refuses to give way. He’s like, nah man, I don’t believe any of it. I think you’re just worried about the appearance of all of this. You’re just thinking about the optics.

Dr G 15:25
Oh, well, these guys are definitely thinking about the optics. This is where Valerius Maximus ends up going.

Dr Rad 15:30
Okay, tell me about the optics.

Dr G 15:32
The optics are that these four who are the tribunes of the plebs – not Hortensius – get together and they’re like, oh, no, if you’re going to persecute and prosecute Sempronius, we’re going to turn up every day at the rostra in mourning. Wearing mourning garb as an intense performative display of loyalty for the man who was and shall always be our commander.

Dr Rad 15:58
Exactly. I mean, the loyalty is bizarre, because I swear, there’s like-

Dr G 16:02
It did sound like they really lost that battle. And it was just a nightmare.

Dr Rad 16:05
Exactly. And I don’t see I don’t have there is no mention of any personal connection between these men before this particular battle.

Dr G 16:15
Look, just because we don’t know about it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

Dr Rad 16:18
This is true, but also, wouldn’t you mention if it was? Anyway Sempronius is clearly counting on the other tribunes using their veto to stop anything bad from happening to him. However, Hortensius calls him out. You’re hiding behind the tribunes! How dare you? What kind of ex-consul are you anyway? Hortensius also turns to the Four Horsemen and says, So what are you going to do? What are you going to do if I continue after Sempronius? Are you just going to undermine the whole idea of the tribunate? How’s that gonna work out for you and all the other random people, if you guys undermine this position that we all hold as tribune of the plebs seems like you’re going to be stripping the people of their rights, am I right?

Dr G 17:14
I don’t know if this feels logical to me. But please continue.

Dr Rad 17:18
Well, the tribune say, We certainly did not intend to overrule whatever the people decide. They’re allowed to vote on things. However – and this is where your story comes in – if you’re going to ignore our pleas for Sempronius’ wellbeing then we are just going to dress in mourning, and as like a show of solidarity, as he’s like, our dad.

Dr G 17:49
Oh, wow.

Dr Rad 17:49
Because he was our commander.

Dr G 17:53
Oh, no, mixing up filial piety with the command structure of the military forces. This is getting messy.

Dr Rad 18:02
I know. It’s really sickening. Now Hortensius, is convinced by this. Yeah, he’s like, okay, okay, put the morning away. We don’t need to get unpleasant.

Dr G 18:13
Let’s not get emotional about it.

Dr Rad 18:16
We don’t need to get fabric involved. Sempronius is free to go. I’m not going to touch him. Because if you guys are so dedicated to him, then he must be worth it. And I was wrong the whole time.

Dr G 18:32
This is – I mean -it just feels the whole thing feels implausible. What kind of story is this?

Dr Rad 18:38
The endnote is the best part because everyone is for once thrilled with the tribune of the plebs – all of them. They’re like, You know what you guys were like super loyal and dedicated. And you, Hortensius, showed yourself to be flexible, reasonable, logical. I think I’ve ever had such a high rating. It’s like five stars across the board for all of the tribunes.

Dr G 19:05
You guys haven’t agreed at all, but you got there in the end.

Dr Rad 19:07

Dr G 19:07
Good job.

Dr Rad 19:08
Yeah. Now, this is where things get really weird in Livy’s account, because it’s like he, most people agree that he abruptly switches his source material, like the main source that he’s consulting, one of the earliest sources. But the one thing that kind of does stay similar all throughout this little next period, is that it seems that maybe Livy’s is dwelling on a theme of moderatio. And this would be a good moment to flag that obviously, because everyone’s being, well, reasonably reasonable. You know.

Dr G 19:46
I don’t think our four horsemen are necessarily demonstrating any moderatio. Like all they’ve done is step up each time. Yeah, and gone. Well, if you’re going to do that, I’m going to do this

Dr Rad 19:59
I guess. I guess

Dr G 20:00
But Hortensius has apparently shown some moderatio.

Dr Rad 20:05
Yeah, he has. I don’t know that everybody is, as you say, but I guess you could say that the other tribunes kind of are in the sense that they don’t use their veto. They’re like we’ll make this a personal show of solidarity. A private-public protest if you will. Yes, anyway. And and now this is where it becomes like an abrupt shift because all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we’ve got this mansion of the Aequians coming in to claim some sort of victory over the Volscians. It seems really weird.

Dr G 20:37
Oh, so when the when the Romans ran away, the Aequians were their being like, Well, I see the Volscii are not quite ready.

Dr Rad 20:48
Well, I don’t even know if it’s like, you know, fresh combat, or if it’s actually what just happened.

Dr G 20:54
Wasn’t there some kind of – I didn’t know the Aequians were involved, but it seems like maybe they inserted themselves when the opportunity arose.

Dr Rad 21:01
I think they did. But also, I think Livy’s also just like, really quickly changed horses, and it doesn’t have the nice flow that I’ve come to expect from Livy’s narrative.

Dr G 21:13
Maybe, yeah, it sounds like Livy’s might be struggling.

Dr Rad 21:16
Indeed. And that’s where he ends the year, which is why it’s even stranger.

Dr G 21:21
P.S. the Aequians. The end.

Dr Rad 21:23
That’s basically what it reads like he’s like, Aequians, and we’re like, wait, what, have we talked about the Aequians? Anytime recently?

Dr G 21:30
Yeah, nothing in any of the material that I’ve been able to scrounge together in preparation has mentioned the Aequians.

Dr Rad 21:35
Exactly. And so without further ado, Dr. G. That means that I am ricocheting into 421 BCE.

Dr G 21:41
Oh, okay. Well, before we head into that direction, I’ll give you some lowdown on some the name Asellius. So we’ve got these tribune of the plebs. One of them is Marcus Asellius. Now, this is the only one for which there is more history attested for the family name.

Dr Rad 21:58

Dr G 21:59
So, but not until the second century CE.

Dr Rad 22:04
Once again, we’ve got these later names.

Dr G 22:07
Yeah. So I think this is really interesting, because this is a family that crops up into prominence well after the source material that even we’re consulting. And but so this family is hanging around, but it seems that there are long threads that go back quite a long way for that particular gens. And that is that’s it. That’s my other my other little tidbit of detail.

Dr Rad 22:32
Love it.

Dr G 22:32
And I’m ready to move on

Dr Rad 22:33
I would not have known that without you. And that’s the whole point of the fixes.

Alright, so 421 BCE. We’re back to consuls, I’m afraid.

Dr G 22:42
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Look, my source material. I’m glad you asked.

Dr Rad 22:48
I didn’t. I just assumed.

Dr G 22:52
Didorus Siculus – still missing.

Dr Rad 22:54
Right. Yeah.

Dr G 22:54
Dionysius of Halicarnassus? Missing.

Dr Rad 22:57

Dr G 22:58
I’ve got a little bit of Festus.

Dr Rad 23:00
Yeah, so. There is a little bit of Festus that is relevant here. But I’ll let you take that.

Dr G 23:04
And I’ve also got a little bit of Tacitus’ Annals.

Dr Rad 23:07
Yes, I think I know you’re coming. But again, I’m not going to tread on your toes for that. I’m going to let you, I’m gonna let you take that. But do you want to tell us the names of the consuls for this year?

Dr G 23:16
All right. There’s some controversy.

Dr Rad 23:18

Dr G 23:19
So it’s Gnaeus or Numerius

Dr Rad 23:22
That is what Livy prefers

Dr G 23:24
Yeah, but nobody else prefers that really. So but we’ll come to that.

Dr Rad 23:29
Well, everyone else has disappeared. So I think they can take a flying leap.

Dr G 23:32
As a praenomen “Numerius” is a little bit a bit unusual.

Dr Rad 23:37
I’ll give you that.

Dr G 23:37
So Gnaeus or Numerius Fabius Vibulanus

Dr Rad 23:43
Definitely heard this name.

Dr G 23:45
Yeah. The Fabii. Well, one of our favourite gens-es at this point in time. Yeah. Well attested, yeah, dramatically, almost dead. And then we also have Titus Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus.

Dr Rad 24:01
Definitely a name we recognise.

Dr G 24:04
Sound familiar.

Dr Rad 24:05
I mean, for heaven’s sakes, there’s just the previous year it was we’ve had a Capitolinus didn’t we?

Dr G 24:09
Yeah, yeah, the beardy ones.

Dr Rad 24:11
Yeah, I particularly like the way that Livy introduces this guy to me because he says the consuls are Numerius Fabius Vibulanus and Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, the son of Capitolinus, and I was like, thanks so much for clearing that up Livy, it’s super clear now who this guy is and who he’s related to.

Dr G 24:28
Nothing quite like those details to really lock you into the narrative.

Dr Rad 24:31
Now, of course, we start in this random place that we finish where – by a lot – Fabius is chosen to be the commander against the Aequians. What?

Dr G 24:42
Well, fair enough.

Dr Rad 24:43
Like what is happening? but nothing is really achieved. So it’s not a glorious battle, because what happens is that Fabius goes off to war with the Aequians. The Aequians, having come in maybe claiming someone else’s victory. I don’t know what’s going on there. They also give a very half hearted effort against the Romans. And so the Romans just super easily managed to triumph over them. It’s a completely shameful defeat from the Aequians. You have to retreat and therefore Fabius is left with nothing to brag about.

Dr G 25:15
So, no triumph?

Dr Rad 25:16
No triumph, but he does get an ovatio (or an ovation), because he had somewhat helped to waft away the stench of Sempronius’ behaviour on the battlefield.

Dr G 25:32
You didn’t lose, and that was good.

Dr Rad 25:34
Yeah. And it wasn’t, you know, disastrous and shameful. We like that. Yeah. More of that.

Dr G 25:43
An ovatio is like a lesser triumph.

Dr Rad 25:46
Yeah, I mean, like, to be honest, it sounds like more than I feel like he deserved.

Dr G 25:49
Yeah, it is still quite a substantial celebration, but the commander walks through the city as part of the procession, rather than being in a chariot.

Dr Rad 25:56
Yes. Obviously, walking in

Dr G 26:00
Walking is not as prestigious.

Dr Rad 26:02
It’s really not. So it’s a bit of a win. But I think everyone feels very ambivalent about this, because everyone is expecting more from the Aequians. Although we certainly didn’t, because the Aequians seem to be randomly placed. So they do. Yeah, it’s it just seems like such a non affair. But then, Dr. G, Mawhahaha the peace was shattered with unexpected and serious quarrels between the plebeians and the patricians. And to that I say, Livy, really? You don’t need to be Cassandra to see this one coming.

Dr G 26:36
I was like, unexpected, surprising?

Dr Rad 26:39
Like, surely this is the most predictable thing in the history of the world.

Dr G 26:44
It has been happening for a while, according even to Livy.

Dr Rad 26:47
Yeah. And of course, it could only happen over a truly hot button issue, which is the doubling of the quaestors.

Dr G 26:57
I wondered where this was going. I was like, is land allotment back on the agenda? No. Okay. Wait, I have a source for this. Excellent.

Dr Rad 27:05
Wait, before you go into it. Are you going to tell us what quaestors are, to begin with? Because we might need to remind people, it’s been a while since we mentioned them.

Dr G 27:12
I’m not sure that I am going to I mean, I, it’s tricky. Quaestors end up being in charge of things. Like, what the treasury?

Dr Rad 27:23
Yeah, like that. What they ended up being in charge of much like aediles is very little, like related to what they do now. Yeah, they are mentioned, actually all the way back in the regal period, as being in charge of helping out with cases of parricidum. So where a family member has killed a family member.

Dr G 27:42
See, I’m glad you’re here, because it’s like of all of the things I decided to look up looking at what the quaestors was did in the early republic was not one of them,

Dr Rad 27:50
Typically, of all the magistracices of this time period, we don’t really know what they do. But because they actually predate-

Yeah, they have a quasi legal function.

Yeah. And they are mentioned in the Twelve Tables. They are mentioned as the quaestores parridici no no, I know that

Dr G 28:10

Dr Rad 28:10
Para-kid-i-ii – quaestores parricidii! Yeah, I don’t know why I’m saying it in Italian

Dr G 28:18
Every time an Italian dies.

Dr Rad 28:18
I just had to do it.

Dr G 28:25
Right. I enjoyed it. So the quaestors. So yeah, we get Tacitus weirdly, as a source for this. This is a guy that’s writing in the like, early second century and late first century CE. So he’s like, you know, a while away, even from Livy, like, over a century later, definitely. And he talks about the quaestors going back to Brutus in 509 BCE. But also notes that two are added to take care of things at Rome, in 421 BCE. So the idea is that they were supposed to accompany the military chest. So that’s Tacitus’ read. So that’s a really interesting sort of progression for where the quaestorship is going to maybe end up.

Dr Rad 29:20
Exactly. Treasury money.

Dr G 29:21
Yeah, treasury and money. And so that’s where Tacitus is. And he’s like, Well, he assumes that in this very early period of the republic that they’ve had two, to look after the war booty essentially like, like the really precious stuff that’s picked up in the battlefield, the quaestors are in charge of like managing that and the security around that. Yeah. And then they decide in this moment that they need to more in Rome itself. Yes. I don’t know who’s been stealing the booty to suggest that that might be necessary.

Dr Rad 29:52
It’s not actually that per se. Basically how this all comes about, is that the consuls say there’s too much paperwork. And you know what? I’m sick of hearing the constant complaint about that. This has been like what?

Dr G 30:04
Red tape, man, red tape – all I want to do is go out and kill people with an army. Come on, come on, come on. I know round up, round up, round up.

Dr Rad 30:11
It’s like every job has a glamorous side and a not so glamorous side guys but anyway.

Dr G 30:16
Guys, I need a PA.

Dr Rad 30:18
Oh, they completely say that. They say, look, there’s a lot of conflict going on. We’re being drowned in admin.

Dr G 30:27
Between the levee; between having to like clean my own leather. It’s a nightmare, I tell you what.

Dr Rad 30:34
What I mean, quite frankly, look at Sempronius. Why didn’t he prepare? Too busy with admin.

Dr G 30:40
I just couldn’t get through the emails. The backlog was shocking.

Dr Rad 30:43
It was choking me. So they want two more quaestors because they just can’t cope. There’s just too many wars going on. And the Senate like totally, completely reasonable, of course, for a number that we need. Now the tribunes of course get wind of this. And they say, well, whoa, whoa, look, while we’re adding two quaestors. I mean, that would make a total of four. Why don’t we say that 50% have to be plebeian, because traditionally quaestors have always been patricians.

Dr G 31:14
Mm hmm. Well, cat amongst the pigeons right there.

Dr Rad 31:18
Well, it seems like a fairly simple request. But the consuls and the senate, of course, have their default reaction of, “I would rather die than see that happen.” And they put up a huge fight, absolutely refused. They’re like no way. No How. However, finally, they decided to make a compromise. They’re going to apply the same rule that they used for military tribunes with consular power, which is that the people can elect whoever they want, maybe to be patricians, maybe to be plebeians. Good luck. That compromise is rejected.

Dr G 31:57
Well, fair enough. I mean, we’ve yet to see any evidence of some real plebeians inside the military tribunate with consular power.

Dr Rad 32:05
Precisely. So they decide we’re just going to have to let go of the whole idea of having more quaestors. We’d rather like neither of us are going to have any more quaestors because we can’t agree where they’re coming from.

Dr G 32:21
So they’re not going to increase them?

Dr Rad 32:23
No, they’re like, You know what,

Dr G 32:24
We’ll just stick with two.

Dr Rad 32:25
Let’s just drop it

Dr G 32:26
Two is fine. The consuls are like, I’ll do my paperwork. Yeah, I hate emails, whatever.

Dr Rad 32:30
Yeah. However, the tribune of the plebs is less keen to kind of let this all go. And their like, you know, all of this has reinvigorated me, refreshed me. And so I’m now going to pursue all these other dangerous and revolutionary ideas that tribunes typically do, such as pushing for an agrarian law.

Dr G 32:57
Uh oh

Dr Rad 32:57
Yeah, instead of like, Whoa, how did this happen? We were just talking about, like, trying to reduce our admin and now we’re back at an agrarian law??

Dr G 33:06
All we said was, if you’re gonna have more quaestors, we want two of them to be us. Not gonna give it to us? Fine. I want all of the public land re allotment to be fixed up yesterday.

Dr Rad 33:18
So the senate like okay, well, clearly, we can’t risk having military tribunes with consular power. We’re going to need to organise consular elections for the next year because we need things to be you know, super stable, really under lock and key. Patricians only. The tribunes however, say, You know what? No, we’re gonna use our vetoes. And so they stop consular elections from being held. Apparently, this is something they can do.

Dr G 33:45
It seems a little bit too early.

Dr Rad 33:49
I know. And also, this is where it starts get really murky. Clearly, I think there is some overlap between the events of 421 and 420 is really unclear. Like when all of this is going down, and how, and that’s because the fricking tribunes stop the consuls being elected and therefore I don’t have a clear end date here.

Dr G 34:06
This is the year that goes forever.

Dr Rad 34:08
Yeah. And so instead of having consuls coming in instead, we have an interrex, and not just an interrex, we have lots of them.

Dr G 34:19
Oh, yes. We’re about to enter very baffling period.

Dr Rad 34:23
It is so weird. So weird

Dr G 34:25
Because an interrex – as the name would suggest – is somebody who comes between kings.

Dr Rad 34:31
Exactly, exactly right. But look, we have heard them use this before in the Republic, but yeah, the fact that it’s still hanging around almost 100 years later, it’s like guys

Dr G 34:43
As a stop gap solution. Yeah. When things really go wrong.

Dr Rad 34:46
You got rid of the kings, you’re designing the new system, be better

Dr G 34:52
At least give people new titles

Dr Rad 34:54
Exactly, like Jesus Christ, like we’ve given you 100 years like freshen up the place a bit. But anyway, so there’s this whole series of interreges apparently taking place. And even this did not happen smoothly because the tribunes are apparently trying really hard to stop the patricians from meeting at all. So when they have to meet to talk about,

Dr G 35:12
They start together in public and patricians just run out them to disperse the crowd.

Dr Rad 35:16
In private as well, like they just seem to be stopping them from having meetings everywhere, because they’re trying to gather so they can appoint the next interrex, because – we probably should remind our listeners of this strategy – the whole idea of an interrex is that the idea is that elite men each take turns holding the ultimate imperium for short periods of time.

Dr G 35:37
Yes, it’s kind of like it’s done by a lot. Or it’s done by time. That’s kind of like there are different systems for measuring it. But the idea is, it’s rotational and everybody understands the nature of the rotation.

Dr Rad 35:48
Yeah, it’s like a patrician hot potato basically. And so they are using their veto to stop them from gathering, to stop them from appointing people, to stop them from ordering consular elections. Exhausting.

Dr G 36:02
Yeah, I mean, it’s been very confusing. I mean, I’ve got I’m just overwhelmed by the confusion of it all. I’ve got no narrative. So I’ve got nothing to base my response on.

Dr Rad 36:11
I’m winding it up, don’t worry. So eventually, we get a guy called Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, who’s made the interrex. Now he decides he’s going to have a go with everyone. So he tells off the senators, he tells off the tribunes of the plebs. He’s like, hello. You’re lucky that the gods have been looking out for Rome because you guys sure as hell haven’t been. You just freaking lucky. I mean, what if? What if they decided once again, to call off the truce? What if the Aequians weren’t complete losers, as they seem to be right now, for the sake of this narrative? Things could go south really quickly for us, guys. We’re not preeminent yet. Okay, what happens in case of an emergency? What happens if you don’t have patricians in charge? Are you mad? No army, no generals to conduct a levy? Oh, my God, you all need to compromise. You all need to give in just a little bit. Just a little bit.

Demonstrate some moderatio, guys.

Oh, yeah, no, that’s exactly what happens. The Senate agree that the whole military tribunes with consular power thing can happen. And the tribunes allow for quaestors provided that they are chosen at the will of the people and can be either patrician or plebeian. Yes, that’s right.

Dr G 37:41
We’re back at square one.

Dr Rad 37:42
That’s right, we’re back at square one, where they could have been months ago, maybe years ago. Who knows how much time has passed while I’ve been dealing with this incompetence?

Dr G 37:50
So many dinner parties broken up and for nothing, just to get back to the beginning again.

Dr Rad 37:54
I know, I know. Now, look, this is one of those episodes in the whole struggle of the orders that definitely some scholars have been like, really? Did this really happen? It also doesn’t seem like the tribunes could actually stop the patricians from eating?

Dr G 38:11
No, I don’t think so. That does seem rather suspect at this point in time.

Dr Rad 38:15
And yeah, but it could be potentially a way of explaining something that really happened, which is a lot of these interreges.

Dr G 38:23
Yes, yeah. Interesting. So that sounds is that is that the wrap up? Okay.

Dr Rad 38:30
I mean, that’s it for 421. Maybe part of 420?

Dr G 38:34
Fair enough, fair enough. So to put things – different spin on things. Okay. One of the things I’ve been doing while I’ve lacked source material is just to read some scholarship, you know, everybody loves a good time. And one of those books is Drogula’s, “Commanders and Command in the Roman Republic and Early Empire”. Not interested in the early empire at this point, but I’m glad the book covers that as well.

Dr Rad 38:56
Can we get this person on the show? That’s like the second article we’ve read.

Dr G 38:59
Yeah, I Well, first, first name Fred. So I think, well, but I wouldn’t presume gender. But “Commanders and Command in the Roman Republic in Early Empire” is looking at what do we think might have been realistically going on in this very early period, and-

Dr Rad 39:19

Dr G 39:21
History was a blank slate, Rome was a tabula rasa. And it only came into being with the Punic Wars. Before then, it didn’t exist at all.

Dr Rad 39:31
There was some huts, that’s about all I feel confident saying.

Dr G 39:34
There were some huts, they definitely were huts. We’ve got some archaeological evidence for huts, which is great.

Dr Rad 39:39
Yeah, there were some temples.

Dr G 39:40
There were some temples. And one of the theories that Drogula is sort of exploring this early period is that you’ve got prominent families and politics operating through prominent families. Sure, which makes sense. Yeah. And so the Fabii – going back to them for a minute and their disastrous, sort of like private war with Veii. Yeah, that’s going back a little ways now. But seeing that as an example of what might actually be happening, instead of having elections, instead of having formal people coming into positions of power, what you’ve got is a kind of like, yeah, it’s warlords and bandits. And people are raising private armies, and going around the place to defend their property. So Rome has this sort of feature about it. And we see it later on as well, where they kind of don’t ever really get to the spot where they have like a proper sort of like, police force or things like that. It’s kind of like the onus is on the individual to look after themselves

Dr Rad 40:36
Oh definitely

Dr G 40:37
And how you go about that. It’s kind of up to you. And if we take that sort of idea, right back into this early period, you’ve got your land holdings, you’ve got the people who are dependent on that land who are loyal to you. You’re divided up into tribes, you’re a prominent family, you’re a tribune, because you’re a leader of a tribe in some respects, or you’ve been drawn from a tribe. So we’ve talked about this idea of where does the name tribune come from? Coming out of that tribal system? Yeah, some kind of leader. And then you’ve got this idea that we’ve also got not consuls, but praetors. Praetor being kind of like a default name for a leader as well.

Dr Rad 41:16

Dr G 41:17
You’ve got people who are like, well, I need to defend my property, because we’re about to get raided by those guys. And I could see him coming over the hill, who’s with me? Yeah. And there’s everybody’s got a vested interest in the local area to get on board with that, because better to defend it together than not, you got this smelly slaughters individual. Yeah, this swilling mix of people rising to prominence, who are able to raise their own armies. And that driving the politics in this central meeting area of these tribes, which is these little hills that are getting more and more populous, that becomes Rome. Yeah. And this idea, I think, is really useful and interesting for understanding some of this stuff, because Livy has to navigate and Dionysus – whenever, whenever I have him – have to navigate this idea that Rome gets rid of the kings, and is, in their mind kind of already a fully fledged Republic, before it would be really possible for them to have figured out how they’re going to do it.

Dr Rad 42:17

Dr G 42:17
And part of what we’re seeing is this ongoing process as I’m trying to figure it out, not really getting it right. Sometimes it working. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you got to have interreges. What does that even mean if you’re dealing with a period of like war bands or warlords, and like roving armies?

Dr Rad 42:34
I’m down to this idea of the Rome of this period actually being a chaotic mess-

Dr G 42:40
I think it might be

Dr Rad 42:41
-where they haven’t figured out what they’re doing exactly in place of the kings. I mean, you know, you think about the period that’s better documented, like when Rome collapses in the “West”, that whole idea that, you know, feudalism springs up to take its place, because people, as you say, need to defend their local area. And there are some people that are better equipped to be the leaders in that scenario, whether it’s because they already have more people that are pledged to them, or they have more material wealth of some kind. Like, it’s totally clear that that is probably what is happening here. Not necessarily in the sense of, “You, sir, if you pledge yourself to me,”

Dr G 43:17
“I shall advance you.”

Dr Rad 43:19
“Bow down before me.” But in that sense of, “I’m the strongest guy in this area.”

Dr G 43:24
“Better to be on my side, then against me. You on my side?” And you’re like, “Yes, sir. Yes, I am.”

Dr Rad 43:31
And it would explain so much.

Dr G 43:33
“I’m not gonna burn down your farm … yet.”

Dr Rad 43:37
“Those guys might if I don’t help you.”

Dr G 43:40
“If you pay me a little bit of cash, I’ll make sure that I come back if they ever return.”

Dr Rad 43:44
Yeah, exactly. It’s I mean, it makes complete sense that when you get rid of a system, like the kings, that this would be exactly what takes place.

Dr G 43:52
Yeah. And it might also help explain why we’ve got these periods where – and because we’re in the middle of this period now, and it’s going to go on for quite some time where we’ve got military tribunes with consular power, not consuls – And this is part of like this chaotic time where it’s like, there is clearly more than a couple of people who are holding imperium. And running around with an armed force. And this period of Rome sort of chaotic, coming together and trying to figure out who they are while also facing off against just about everybody else in the region.

Dr Rad 44:25

Dr G 44:25
We’re right in the middle of the drama now.

Dr Rad 44:29
100% I love it. All right. Well, should we wrap up there Dr. G?

Dr G 44:32

Dr Rad 44:33
Okay. That means that it’s time for the Partial Pick!

Uhhh, I’m just gonna cut that out.

Dr G 44:47
Why? I’m still so sad

Dr Rad 44:49
Because you’re stealing Igor’s gig. Have you thought about that? He’s in a union.

Dr G 44:53
Wow. Igor. If you’re listening. I want you to know that I’m not trying to steal your job.

Dr Rad 45:02
All right, Dr G., tell us about the Partial Pick.

Dr G 45:04
Well, it is time to see if Rome can win 50 Golden Eagles.

Dr Rad 45:10
I’m not betting anything on it.

Dr G 45:13
They’re up for 10 Golden Eagles across five categories.

Dr Rad 45:16
All right, give me the categories with the first one?

Dr G 45:18
Military clout.

Dr Rad 45:21
Look, I mean, maybe, I guess the whole Aequians thing, something that’s a very confused narrative. And it’s even then, like, even Livy’s like, “look, it’s not great.”

Dr G 45:32
How many points are you going to give it an ovatio?

Dr Rad 45:35
I mean, it’s an ovatio. It’s a pity ovatio. I mean, let’s let’s be real. It’s a patrician pity party, because they’re trying to distract people from the fact that Sempronius really stuffed up. So I feel like I cannot give it more than a three.

Dr G 45:50
All right, fair fair. All right, diplomacy.

Dr Rad 45:54

Dr G 45:55
Well, there was some moments of acquiescence that come through when we get four quaestors that could be elected, two of whom could be plebeian perhaps.

Dr Rad 46:10
And there’s also the whole, you know, Hortensius and the four horsemen of the apocalypse thing.

Dr G 46:15
They do have a moment where they come together and find an accord.

Dr Rad 46:21
Yes. Damn you, Livy, and your theme of moderatio. So I guess I don’t feel like it’s much because there was a lot of fighting before that one that you mentioned. And it was a lot of fighting before the one that I mentioned. So I feel like I don’t know maybe again, another three.

Dr G 46:36
Oh, I feel like a four.

Dr Rad 46:38
Okay, fine.

Dr G 46:38
You know, give them two each.

Dr Rad 46:39
Right. Okay, done.

Dr G 46:43

Dr Rad 46:44
No. Feels like a really long time since we had some fresh territory.

Dr G 46:51
Oh, Rome, Rome, Rome. When shall you’ll be great? Never. That’s a zero. Okay, the fourth category is virtus.

Dr Rad 47:00
Hmmm. Look, there’s some interesting behaviour going on here, I’ll give you that. But I don’t think any of it qualifies as virtus.

Dr G 47:07
I would say that perhaps the very selfless defence of Sempronius by the four tribune of the plebs who served under him under a disastrous campaign, and that filial parallel that they make? That the commander is akin to their father.

Dr Rad 47:25

Dr G 47:25
Fascinating stuff. I feel like that’s got a bit of virtus in it.

Dr Rad 47:28
Okay. Okay. I’m not gonna give them a lot. Maybe like a two? I don’t know. It seems like an empty gesture.

Dr G 47:38
Yeah. Look.

Dr Rad 47:39
Hortensius was fake anyway!

Dr G 47:41
Talking you into it, aren’t I? But I do think there is some element of virtus there because of that parallel with with pietas, so yeah, I don’t mind if it’s low. I’m not wedded to a number on this one. I don’t, I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other. But yeah, I think something,

Dr Rad 47:57
I think it would make a mockery of all Romans who threw themselves into the heat of battle-

Dr G 48:03
gained their wound on the front-

Dr Rad 48:04
and got slaughted. And these guys just said, “Hey, maybe we’ll wear some different clothes.” So I feel like a two is fair.

Dr G 48:13
He threw on his best black dress, and I’m calling that virtue. And our final category is the citizen score.

Dr Rad 48:24
Citizens remarkably absent from all this bickering going on, but I feel like it can’t be pleasant for them.

Dr G 48:32
Look, they’ve had some maybe they’ve been involved in this Aequian situation.

Dr Rad 48:37
They would definitely had to have been.

Dr G 48:38
That would have wouldn’t have been great, but they did win. So that could have been worse.

Dr Rad 48:42
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Dr G 48:43
But then also, if we’ve got now for quaestors, and two can be drawn from the plebeian class. That seems like there’s the potential for greater representation.

Dr Rad 48:53
True. Always the potential though, isn’t it?

Dr G 48:57
I’m emphasising the potential. I’ve been reading a little bit of Rome’s history. And I’m not feeling confident that we’re going to see two quaestors.

Dr Rad 49:06
Maybe a three. Like, you know, I mean, it’s not they’re not really explicitly mentioned, which makes me think that nothing particularly out of the ordinary is happening, either good or bad.

Dr G 49:19
All right. All right. I’m happy to go with that.

Dr Rad 49:21
Okay. That means, Dr G., that we ended up with a grand total of 12 Golden Eagles for Rome, and that’s over two years, so that’s even more pathetic than it sounds.

Dr G 49:34
Oh, Rome. Well, okay.

Dr Rad 49:38
I am very excited though, for you. Because if you join me next episode, Dr. G.

Dr G 49:43
Oh, boy, I’m very excited. There are things on the horizon. Stay tuned listeners.

Dr Rad 49:48
I just gonna say one word: Vestals.

Dr G 49:51
Yes. Hold that thought in your mind. Yeah. Well, before we go, I’d like to thank all of our patrons who are are marvellous and wonderful, and encourage anybody who enjoys our work to think about supporting us as well. We’d love to have you.

Dr Rad 50:08
Why not? Why not? Why not make this a full time gig so that we can really speed through Rome’s history at a much faster pace than we have so far.

Dr G 50:17
But also, if you’re fiscally doing it tough, which I totally understand, and, you know, podcasts are a fabulous free resource. We’d love to have a review written by you if you enjoy our work, because those reviews actually make our day every time we see them.

Dr Rad 50:33
They absolutely do. And you can also just tell someone old school style about the show and say, “Give it a listen.”

Dr G 50:40
“See what you think.”

Dr Rad 50:42
Exactly, yes.

Dr G 50:44
All right. Well, it has been, as always an absolute pleasure to chat with you, Dr. Rad.

Dr Rad 50:50
Agree Dr. G. Now for anyone who wants to know all that our sources for this episode and our credits, please check out our website. That’s where we post it all. And our music is by Bettina Joy de Guzman.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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