Appius Claudius Chassis, a Roman decemvir from 451 to 449 B. C. He belonged to the Claudii of Sabine origin, a patrician family noted for its sanguinary cruelty, and for its unrelenting opposition to the plebeians, and to laws extending their political rights. When first a consul, he opposed the Publilian law, enacted in favor of the plebeians. Afterward, when he led the legions of Rome against the enemy, he was twice defeated, the plebeians being unwilling to fight under his command. He punished many officers by flogging and death, besides ordering every tenth man to be beheaded. After the end of his consulate he opposed the revival of an agrarian law, and was sent into temporary exile. On returning he became consul for the second time, then one of the decemvirs who promulgated the ten tables, and in the following year the leading member of the new decemvirate, which added two tables to the ten. It is supposed that these decemvirs, and Appins among them, wished to make their power perpetual; at any rate, they proved themselves arbitrary oppressors both of patricians and plebeians. On account of an inroad of the Sabines and the .AEqui, the decemvirs enlisted troops, and marched against the enemy; but Appius and Opins, his colleague, remained at Rome to maintain the power of the decemvirs.
Appius now fell in love with Virginia, daughter of Lucius Virginius, who was with the army, having left his daughter under the protection of Icilius. Marcus Claudius, a client of Appius, swore before the tribunal of the decemvirs that Virginia was the daughter of one of his female slaves, taken secretly by the childless wife of Virginius as her child. This scheme had been devised by Appius to bring the girl into his power. She was arrested and brought before the decemvir, who decided that she must follow her pretended master. But the people, incited by Icilius and her uncle Numitorius, threatened an outbreak, and Appius ordered Virginia to be brought to his own house, announcing that a final inquiry and decision in her case should take place the next day. During the night Virginius arrived from the camp, and appeared with Icilius and Numitorius - all three in mourning - in the forum. Appius finally adjudged the girl to his. client, notwithstanding the oath and the evidence of her father, and ordered the lictors to seize and deliver her to Marcus. Virginius, seizing a knife from a butcher standing near him, stabbed his daughter, and fled to the army with Icilius and Numitorius. Two senators, Horatius and Valerius, called on the people in the city to rise against the tyrant.
At the same time Virginius, Icilius, and Numitorius appealed for vengeance to the army in their camps, which, under their leading, marched upon Rome. The decemvirs resigned, and the senate decreed the restoration of the consuls and the tribunes in their stead. Appius was put in prison, and died there; according to Livy by suicide, but according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, he was strangled by the order of the tribunes.