Sooo … Roman laws and their unintended consequences

Publius Valerius won the name Publicola — “friend of the people” — by putting through the Assembly several laws that remained basic in Rome: that any man who should try to make himself king might be killed without trial; that any attempt to take a public office without the people’s consent should be punishable with death; and that any citizen condemned by a magistrate to death or flogging should have the right of appeal to the Assembly. …

In 486 [B.C.] the consul Spurius Cassius proposed an allotment of captured lands among the poor; the patricians accused him of currying popular favor to make himself king, and had him killed; this was probably not the first in a long line of agrarian proposals and Senatorial assassinations, culminating in Gracchi and Caesar. In 439 Spurius Maelius, who during a famine had distributed wheat to the poor at a low price or free, was slain in his home by an emissary of the Senate, again on the charge of plotting to be king. In 384 Marcus Manlius, who had heroically defended Rome against the Gauls, was put to death on the same charge after he had spent his fortune relieving insolvent debtors.

The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, by Will Durant, pp. 16, 23

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