Titus Cloelius Siculus
During the first decades of the Roman Republic, the relations between Rome's hereditary aristocracy, the patricians, and the common people, or plebeians, had grown increasingly difficult, leading to what historians refer to as the conflict of the orders. Following the abolition of the Decemvirs in 449 BC, the patricians were determined to exclude plebeians from holding the consulate, the chief magistracy of the Republic, while the plebeians were equally determined to obtain the consular authority.[i] In 445, during the consulship of Marcus Genucius Augurinus[ii] and Gaius Curtius, a compromise was reached, calling for the election of tribuni militum consulari potestate, or military tribunes with consular power (traditionally shortened to "consular tribunes") in place of consuls. Either patricians or plebeians could be elected to this new position, which satisfied the plebeians by opening the consular authority to their order, while at the same time reserving the dignity of the consulate itself to the patricians.
At the ensuing elections, three[iii] consular tribunes were chosen: Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Titus Cloelius Siculus, and Lucius Atilius Luscus. Despite the promise of the new magistracy opening the consular authority to the plebeians, all of the consular tribunes elected were patricians.[iv] But within three months, the augurs announced that the tribunes had been wrongly elected: the consul Curtius, who had presided at the election, had taken the auspices without having properly selected his position. The consular tribunes were obliged to resign their authority, and consuls were elected in their place.
Two years later, during the consulate of Marcus Fabius Vibulanus and Postumus Aebutius Elva in 442, Cloelius was one of the triumviri coloniae deducendae appointed to establish a Roman colony at Ardea, an ancient city of Latium. Serving alongside Cloelius were Agrippa Menenius Lanatus and Marcus Aebutius Elva.
Ardea had long been allied to Rome, but following the annexation of some of their land, the leading faction of the Ardeates had revolted in 445. The following year, the pro-Roman party at Ardea had regained control, and sent ambassadors to renegotiate the treaty with Rome, and seek the restoration of their territory. The treaty was renewed, but the rival factions at Ardea descended into civil war, with one side taking refuge inside the city walls and appealing to Rome for assistance, while the other enlisted the help of the Volscians, who laid siege to the town. The Romans raised the siege, and put the leaders of the anti-Roman faction to death.
The senate agreed to assist the remaining people of Ardea, whose population had been severely reduced by the fighting, and were now vulnerable to attack from the Volscians, by establishing a Roman colony. But in deference to the ancient treaty, and the loyalty of the remaining Ardeates, and in order to resolve the dissension over the city's territory, the senate and the consuls agreed that the majority of the colonists should be Rutuli,[v] the original inhabitants of the land, and that the commissioners should allocate land to the native Ardeates before the Romans. Cloelius and his colleagues faithfully carried out their mandate, but they and the consuls became deeply unpopular with the Roman people, who felt that the Ardeate territory should have remained in Roman hands. The tribunes of the plebs passed a bill of impeachment against the triumvirs, but Cloelius and his colleagues avoided both trial and dishonour by enrolling themselves among the colonists, and settling at Ardea.
- An argument for the exclusion of plebeians from the consulate was that no plebeian had ever held the office; this was accepted as fact by the Roman historians of later times, and the assertion was widely accepted until the nineteenth century, when scholars began to question the appearance of a number of names that were traditionally regarded as plebeian in the consular fasti down to the time of the first consular tribunes. Some of this apparent discrepancy may be resolved by supposing that some of the gentes involved had both patrician and plebeian branches, and that the early consuls belonged to the older, patrician families; but even so it seems likely that a few of the early consuls were indeed plebeians.
- Some scholars note that the later Genucii were plebeians, and therefore point to Marcus as an example of a plebeian who held the consulship prior to the establishment of the consular tribunes; but Marcus' brother, Titus, had been elected consul and subsequently one of the first decemvirs in 451; their family is generally supposed to have belonged to a patrician branch of the Genucii.
- No ancient authority mentions any law fixing the number of consular tribunes, or indicates how the number to be elected on each occasion was determined; in subsequent years the number was always four or six (Diodorus Siculus names eight in 379, probably in error, as Livy only mentions six of them).
- Modern scholarship has suggested that Atilius may have been a plebeian, but he could also have belonged to an older patrician family of the Atilii.
- The Rutuli were Latins, and Ardea their ancient capital. According to legend, Aeneas had fought against the Rutuli after settling in Latium.
- Livy, iv. 6.
- Dionysius, xi. 53–61.
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 52.
- Livy, iv. 7.
- Dionysius, xi. 61.
- Broughton, vol. I, pp. 52, 53.
- Dionysius, xi. 62.
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 53.
- Livy, iv. 11.
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 54.
- Livy, iv. 1.
- Livy, iv. 9, 10.
- Livy, iv. 11.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia (Roman Antiquities).
- Titus Livius (Livy), History of Rome.
- T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, American Philological Association (1952).
Marcus Genucius Augurinus,
and Gaius Curtius Philo
as Consuls of the Roman Republic
| Consular Tribune of the Roman Republic
with Aulus Sempronius Atratinus,
and Lucius Atilius Luscus
Lucius Papirius Mugillanus,
and Lucius Sempronius Atratinus
as Suffect Consuls of the Roman Republic