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ARISTOCRACY.                                        23
had few political aspirations. They seem to have been quiet,
unambitious citizens, as much afraid of the lower strata of
their own order as they were desirous of a higher place in
the state*
At an early day, after the banishment of the Tarquin fam-
ily, the right of appeal was given to all citizens, and, accord-
ing to tradition, by a member of the Valerian family, which
ranked among the leading patrician gentes. Formerly, the
king had decided a cause and had determined whether the
person condemned should be allowed to appeal for pardon.
The Valerian law of 245 A. u. C. — 5O9 B. C., ordered that the
consul should allow capital sentences and those requiring cor-
poral infliction to be brought by appeal before the comitia
of the centuries. This was reckoned by the Romans one of
the great safeguards of personal liberty, and the proposer
of it was gratefully remembered.
But a much greater step in favor of plebeian rights was
taken, when, after the first secession of the plebeian order, in
260 A, U. C,, by a treaty between the senate and the leaders
of the plcbs, the choice of two tribunes, afterwards increased
in number to five and then to ten, was provided for, who
were to be elected from the plebeian order exclusively, to be
sacrosanct in their persons, and to have the right of giving
aid to individual plebeians oppressed by patrician magistrates,
and of doing business with the people—the "jus agenda cum
plebe." For the purpose of choosing them, a new assembly,
that of the tribes, was afterwards instituted, in which the tri-
bunes presided, and which could pass decrees that were at
first binding on plebeians alone, or plebiscites,* As the
* The question where the tribunes were elected before 282, is a
much vexed one. Some, however, follow Cicero (frag, orat, i*, pro
C, Cornelia), who says, " itacjue auspicate postero anno decent tribuni
plobia comitiis curiatiu creati aunt,"—where the number of ten rests
on another tradition than that which Livy follows, Dion* Hal,,
vi., 89, has the same tradition in regard to the composition of the
body where the tribunes were chosen* " The deniua, being distri-
buted into the then existing ^ptfipot, or however one cboase* £0 call
them, which they now call curia, appointed as yearly magistrates the