The captain of the people, acting as head of the ascendant Guelphs or Ghibellines, undertakes the responsibility of proscriptions, decides on questions of policy, forms alliances, declares war.
Even when Rome and Italy smarted beneath his proscriptions and extortions, the provinces were undisturbed.
In England, after receiving such modifications - attributed to Burke - as adapted it to the purposes of the opposition, this pamphlet ran through many editions, and procured for its author, as he said, "the honour of having his name inserted in a long list of proscriptions enrolled in a bill of attainder commenced in one of the two houses of parliament, but suppressed in embryo by the hasty course of events."
With their help he set himself to win the confidence of a public still inclined to distrust the author of the proscriptions of 43 B.C. Brigandage was suppressed in Italy, and the safety of the Italian frontiers secured against the raids of Alpine tribes on the northwest and of Illyrians on the east, while Rome was purified and beautified, largely with the help of Agrippa (aedile in 33 B.C.).
A reign of terror followed; proscriptions, confiscations, and executions became general; some of the noblest citizens were put to death, and Cicero fell a victim to Antony's revenge.
His function as public prosecutor was not so much to convict the guilty as to see that the proscriptions ordered by the faction for the time being in power were carried out with a due regard to a show of legality.