(Ronald Syme: The Roman Revolution, Chapter XXV, The Working of Patronage.)
And what a conjecture that would be!
Appius Claudius Caecus, "the blind" (ca. 340 - 273 BC), was a formidable character. As censor he attempted reforms but is better known to us for building the Via Appia (Appian Way) and the first aqueduct to Rome, the Aqua Appia.
They did things differently in the early Republic: Appius Claudius was censor first (312), an office he somehow managed to hold onto for five years, then consul (twice, 307 and 296) and finally praetor (295). During those latter two years he fought in Etruria.
The most complete information I found is in The Beginnings of Rome: Italy From the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (Circa 1,000 to 264 B.C.) by T.J. Cornell, our upcoming read in September/October.
Cornell calls Appius "the dominant figure in Roman public life either side of 300 BC" and devotes three-and-a-half pages to him aside from mentioning him elsewhere when applicable. He also cites G. DeSanctis (Storia dei Romani I-II) who calls Appius Claudius "the first living personality in Roman history." Cornell ascribes to Appius a "life history with authentic touches," as opposed to Furius Camillus, Manlius Torquatus, Valerius Corvus, "and other lifeless heroes of the early Republic."
Appius' bold reforms of the tribes and the Senate during his censorship were short-lived, but his building projects endured. He is also known for his writings and for his oratory, as an advocate, and in 280 when as a – by now blind – elder statesman he persuaded the Senate not to negotiate with Pyrrhus. In 296 he vowed the Temple of Bellona on the Campus Martius. [Also on Wikpedia: Temple of Bellona (Rome)]
His five daughters are listed as Claudiae Quinque on the stemma next to his four sons, three of whom became consuls (see also Claudia). The stemma shows Appius as the direct ancestor (through his second son P. Cl. Pulcher) of that famous/infamous tribune of the plebs of the late republic, Publius Clodius Pulcher. Who was slain on the Appian Way …
Livy: The History of Rome, Vol. II, 1905 9.29 ff.
Mommsen on Appius Claudius Caecus
The Appian Way (Wikipedia, as usual, handle with care.)
Sextus Julius Frontinus: The Aqueducts of Rome
Aqueducts of Rome under Augustus
Appius Claudius Caecus and the Letter Z (see below)*
Peter Stothard blogged Give Gordon a Livy, telling us that "Appius Claudius Caecus, like Tony Blair, was an absolute master at keeping his job when most of his colleagues thought he ought to have retired."
JSTOR (limited access) has:
- Appius Claudius Caecus and the Via Appia.
Bruce MacBain,The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1980), pp. 356-372,
stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/638505.
Despite the title, it's a reassessment of Appius as historical figure.
- Pyrrhus' Negotiations with the Romans, 280-278 B. C.
Mary R. Lefkowitz,Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 64, (1959), pp. 147-177
stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/310940
- A Classical Source for David's 'Oath of the Tennis Court'.
Andrew A. Kagan, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 116, No. 856 (Jul., 1974), pp. 395-394
stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/877736
- *(added later) The Origin of the Latin Letters G and Z
George Hempl, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 30, (1899), pp. 24-41
stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/282560