There was, further, the remnant of the old liberal minority
in the senate, which in former times had laboured to effect
a compromise with the reform party and the Italians, and was now
in a similar spirit inclined to modify the rigidly oligarchic
constitution of Sulla by concessions to the Populares.
There were, moreover, the Populares strictly so called,
the honestly credulous narrow-minded radicals, who staked property
and life for the current watchwords of the party-programme,
only to discover with painful surprise after the victory
that they had been fighting not for a reality, but for a phrase.
Their special aim was to re-establish the tribunician power, which Sulla
had not abolished but had divested of its most essential prerogatives,
and which exercised over the multitude a charm all the more mysterious,
because the institution had no obvious practical use and was
in fact an empty phantom--the mere name of tribune of the people,
more than a thousand years later, revolutionized Rome.