|1. Dionysius of Halycarnassus, Roman Antiquities, 8.77-8.80, 8.79.3 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)
| 8.77. 1. The following year, at the beginning of the seventy-fourth Olympiad (the one at which Astylus of Syracuse won the foot-race), when Leostratus was archon at Athens, and Quintus Fabius and Servius Cornelius had succeeded to the consulship, two patricians, young indeed in years, but the most distinguished of their body because of the prestige of their ancestors, men of great influence both on account of their bands of supporters and because of their wealth, and, for young men, inferior to none of mature age for their ability in civil affairs, namely, Caeso Fabius, brother of the then consul, and Lucius Valerius Publicola, brother to the man who overthrew the kings, being quaestors at the same time and therefore having authority to assemble the populace, denounced before them Spurius Cassius, the consul of the preceding year, who had dared to propose the laws concerning the distribution of land, charging him with having aimed at tyranny; and appointing a day, they summoned him to make his defence before the populace.,2. When a very large crowd has assembled upon the day appointed, the two quaestors called the multitude together in assembly, and recounting all his overt actions, showed that they were calculated for no good purpose. First, in the case of the Latins, who would have been content with being accounted worthy of a common citizenship with the Romans, esteeming it a great piece of good luck to get even so much, he had as consul not only bestowed on them the citizenship they asked for, but had furthermore caused a vote to be passed that they should be given also the third part of the spoils of war on the occasion of any joint campaign. Again, in the case of the Hernicans, who, having been subdued in war, ought to have been content not to be punished by the loss of some part of their territory, he had made them friends instead of subjects, and citizens instead of tributaries, and had ordered that they should receive the second third of any land and booty that the Romans might acquire from any source.,3. Thus the spoils were to be divided into three portions, the subjects of the Romans and aliens receiving two of them and the natives and domit race the third part. They pointed out that as a result of this procedure one or the other of two most absurd situations would come about in case they should choose to honour any other nation, in return for many great services, by granting the same privileges with which they had honoured not only the Latins, but also the Hernicans, who had never done them the least service. For, as there would be but one third left for them, they would either have no part to bestow upon their benefactors or, if they granted them the like favour, they would have nothing for themselves. 8.78. 1. Besides this they went on to relate that Cassius, in proposing to give to the people the common possessions of the state without a decree of the senate or the consent of his colleague, had intended to get the law passed by force â a law that was inexpedient and unjust, not for this reason alone, that, though the senate ought to have considered the measure first, and, in case they approved of it, it ought to have been a joint concession on the part of all the authorities, he was making it the favour of one man,,2. but also for the further reason â the most outrageous of all â that, though it was in name a grant of the public land to the citizens, it was in reality a deprivation, since the Romans, who had acquired it, were to receive but one third, while the Hernicans and the Latins, who had no claim to it at all, would get the other two thirds. They further charged that even when the tribunes opposed him and asked him to strike out the part of the law granting equal shares to the aliens, he had paid no heed to them, but continued to act in opposition to the tribunes, to his colleague, to the senate, and to all who consulted the best interests of the commonwealth.,3. After they had enumerated these charges and named as witnesses to their truth the whole body of the citizens, they then at length proceeded to present the secret evidences of his having aimed at tyranny, showing that the Latins and the Hernicans had contributed money to him and provided themselves with arms, and that the most daring young men from their cities were resorting to him, making secret plans, and serving him in many other ways besides. And to prove the truth of these charges they produced many witnesses, both residents of Rome and others from the cities in alliance with her, persons who were neither mean nor obscure.,4. In these the populace put confidence; and without either being moved now by the speech which the man delivered â a speech which he had prepared with much care, â or yielding to compassion when his three young sons contributed much to his appeal for sympathy and many others, both relations and friends, joined in bewailing his fate, or paying any regard to his exploits in war, by which he had attained to the greatest honour, they condemned him.,5. Indeed, they were so exasperated at the name of tyranny that they did not moderate their resentment even in the degree of his punishment, but sentenced him to death. For they were afraid that if a man who was the ablest general of his time should be driven from his country into exile, he might follow the example of Marcius in dividing his own people and uniting their enemies, and bring a relentless war upon his country. This being the outcome of his trial, the quaestors led him to the top of the precipice that overlooks the Forum and in the presence of all the citizens hurled him down from the rock. For this was the traditional punishment at that time among the Romans for those who were condemned to death. 8.79. 1. Such is the more probable of the accounts that have been handed down concerning this man; but I must not omit the less probable version, since this also has been believed by many and is recorded in histories of good authority. It is said, then, by some that while the plan of Cassius to make himself tyrant was as yet concealed from all the world, his father was the first to suspect him, and that after making the strictest inquiry into the matter he went to the senate; then, ordering his son to appear, he became both informer and accuser, and when the senate also had condemned him, he took him home and put him to death.,2. The harsh and inexorable anger of fathers against their offending sons, particularly among the Romans of that time, does not permit us to reject even this account. For earlier Brutus, who expelled the kings, condemned both his sons to die in accordance with the law concerning malefactors, and they were beheaded because they were believed to have been helping to bring about the restoration of the kings. And at a later time Manlius, when he was commander in the Gallic war and his son distinguished himself in battle, honoured him, indeed, for his bravery with the crowns given for superior valour, but at the same time accused him of disobedience in not staying in the fort in which he was posted but leaving it, contrary to the command of his general, in order to take part in the struggle; and he put him to death as a deserter.,3. And many other fathers, some for greater and others for lesser faults, have shown neither mercy nor compassion to their sons. For this reason I do not feel, as I said, that this account should be rejected as improbable. But the following considerations, which are arguments of no small weight and are not lacking in probability, draw me in the other direction and lead me to agree with the first tradition. In the first place, after the death of Cassius his house was razed to the ground and to this day its site remains vacant, except for that part of it on which the state afterwards built the temple of Tellus, which stands in the street leading to the Carinae; and again, his goods were confiscated by the state, which dedicated first-offerings for them in various temples, especially the bronze statues to Ceres, which by their inscriptions show of whose possessions they are the first-offerings.,4. But if his father had been at once the informer, the accuser and the executioner of his son, neither his house would have been razed nor his estate confiscated. For the Romans have no property of their own while their fathers are still living, but fathers are permitted to dispose both of the goods and the persons of their sons as they wish. Consequently the state would surely never have seen fit, because of the crimes of the son, to take away and confiscate the estate of his father who had given information of his plan to set up a tyranny. For these reasons, therefore, I agree rather with the former of the two accounts; but I have given both, to the end that my readers may adopt whichever one they please. 8.79.3. And many other fathers, some for greater and others for lesser faults, have shown neither mercy nor compassion to their sons. For this reason I do not feel, as I said, that this account should be rejected as improbable. But the following considerations, which are arguments of no small weight and are not lacking in probability, draw me in the other direction and lead me to agree with the first tradition. In the first place, after the death of Cassius his house was razed to the ground and to this day its site remains vacant, except for that part of it on which the state afterwards built the temple of Tellus, which stands in the street leading to the Carinae; and again, his goods were confiscated by the state, which dedicated first-offerings for them in various temples, especially the bronze statues to Ceres, which by their inscriptions show of whose possessions they are the first-offerings. 8.80. 1. When the attempt was made by some to put to death the sons of Cassius also, the senators looked upon the custom as cruel and harmful; and having assembled, they voted that the penalty should be remitted in the case of the boys and that they should live in complete security, being punished by neither banishment, disfranchisement, nor any other misfortune. And from that time this custom has become established among the Romans and is observed down to our day, that the sons shall be exempt from all punishment for any crimes committed by their fathers, whether they happen to be the sons of tyrants, of parricides, or of traitors â treason being among the Romans the greatest crime.,2. And those who attempted to abolish this custom in our times, after the end of the Marsic and civil wars, and took away from the sons of fathers who had been proscribed under Sulla the privilege of standing for the magistracies held by their fathers and of being members of the senate as long as their own domination lasted, were regarded as having done a thing deserving both the indignation of men and the vengeance of the gods. Accordingly, in the course of time a justifiable retribution dogged their steps as the avenger of their crimes, by which the perpetrators were reduced from the greatest height of glory they had once enjoyed to the lowest depths, and not even their posterity, except of the female line, now survives;,3. but the custom was restored to its original status by the man who brought about their destruction. Among some of the Greeks, however, this is not the practice, but certain of them think it proper to put to death the sons of tyrants together with their fathers; and others punish them with perpetual banishment, as if Nature would not permit virtuous sons to be the offspring of wicked fathers or evil sons of good fathers. But concerning these matters, I leave to the consideration of anyone who is so minded the question whether the practice prevalent among the Greeks is better or the custom of the Romans is superior; and I now return to the events that followed.