Translation copyright 2000 Neil W. Bernstein; all rights reserved.

The penalty inflicted by the plebeian aediles (1) on the daughter of Appius Caecus, (2) a noble woman, because she spoke too arrogantly.

  1. Romans used publicly to punish not only crimes, but also words that were too arrogant, because it seemed that the dignity of Roman discipline ought to be kept inviolable.
  2. For example, the daughter of the famous Appius Caecus was returning from the games when she was mobbed by a crowd of people. They flooded and rushed around her from all directions. And when she got free of them, she said that she had been mistreated.”What would have happened to me,” she said, “and how closely and tightly would I have been mobbed, if my brother Publius Claudius had not lost a fleet of warships, with a great number of citizens aboard, in a naval battle? (3) Indeed I would have been killed, because a larger crowd would have crushed me! I wish that my brother were alive again so he could lead another fleet to Sicily! Then he could kill off this crowd that just now disturbed me so awfully!”
  3. In response to the woman’s words, which were so uncivil and shameless, the plebeian aediles Gaius Fundanius and Tiberius Sempronius fined her 25,000 pounds of bronze. (4)
  4. In his commentary “On public judgments”, Ateius Capito (5) says that this incident took place during the first Punic war, when Fabius Licinius and Otacilius Crassus were consuls. (6)


  1. The plebeian aediles were magistrates in charge of several aspects of urban infrastructure and religious life.
  2. Appius Claudius Caecus (censor 312 BCE, consul 307 BCE and 296 BCE) commissioned Rome’s first aqueduct, as well as the building of the Via Appia, the road linking Rome and Capua.
  3. A Carthaginian fleet defeated Publius Claudius Pulcher at Drepana in 249 BCE (cf. Suetonius, Life of Tiberius 2.2, Livy, Epitome 19; Valerius Maximus, 8.1, abs. 4).
  4. Gaius Fundanius was consul in 243 BCE, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 238 BCE.
  5. The works of Ateius Capito (consul 5 CE) on religious and constitutional law have not survived.
  6. Marcus Fabius Licinius and Manius Otacilius Crassus were consuls in 246 BCE.

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