Adapted from the translation by S. Speed (1678). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.
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I now come to the principal glory, and chief establishment of the Roman empire, remaining to this day in a healthy continuation of inviolable liberty, knitted together with the most firm and lasting cords of her military discipline, in the safeguard of whose bosom peace and tranquillity securely repose.
[7.1] L P. Cornelius Scipio, who received his grandfather's surname from the ruin of Carthage, was sent as consul to Spain, so that he might curb the insolent spirit of the citizens of Numantia, who were grown proud and lofty through the remissness of the previous generals. As soon as he entered the camp, he made a law, that they should throw away all things whatsoever which they had about them, that were brought only for pleasure, and otherwise unnecessary. Thereupon more than two thousand whores, sutlers and pedlars were turned out of the camp. As a result, the soldiers, being cleared of all that luggage and filth, although recently for fear of death they had shamed themselves with an ignominious truce, were now refreshed; recovering new vigour and courage, in a short time they razed the fierce and haughty Numantia level to the ground. Thus Mancinus, miserably surrendering himself, was an example of discipline neglected; Scipio, gloriously triumphing, displayed the reward of discipline revived.
[7.2] L Metellus, following his example, when as consul in the war with Jugurtha he took the command of the army, which had been corrupted through the laxity of Sp. Albinus, laboured with all his might to restore the ancient discipline. Nor did he merely aim at particular parts, but immediately reduced the whole into order. First he removed the sutlers out of the camp, and forbade the sake of cooked meat. He permitted none of the soldiers to have servants or horses to carry their arms on the march, or to fetch and provide them victuals. Then he frequently changed the place of his camp, and fortified it in the same manner, as if Jugurtha had been at hand, with ditches and breastworks. Now what was the outcome of continence restored, and toil revived? It obtained frequent victories, and innumerable trophies from that enemy, whose back the Roman soldiers had not chanced to see under their previous ingratiating commander.
[7.3] L And those men had great concern for military discipline, who not regarding the affectionate ties of family, did not refuse to avenge the breach and neglect of discipline to the dishonour of their families. For P. Rupilius the consul, in that war which he waged in Sicily against the fugitive slaves, banished his son-in-law Q. Fabius out of the province, for negligently losing the citadel of Tauromenium.
[7.4] L C. Cotta the consul caused P. Aurelius Pecuniola, his close relative, to be publicly flogged and to serve as a common infantryman afterwards, because through his fault the fortification was burnt and the camp almost taken, when he was left in command of the siege of Lipara by the consul, who was going to Messana to consult the auspices.
[7.5] L Q. Fulvius Flaccus as censor turned his brother out of the senate, because he had presumed to send home a cohort of the legion in which he was a tribune, without the leave of the consul. These examples would not deserve to be told so briefly, if I were not hastening to include other greater examples. What could be more difficult for a man to do, than to send back with ignominy to his country a person so closely related by family and marriage; or to use the severity of stripes to a person connected in a long series of blood and kinship; or to turn his censor's frown upon brotherly affection?
[7.6] L If any one of these were given to a state, however famous, it would then seem to be abundantly furnished with military discipline. But our city, which has filled the world with wonderful examples of all sorts, with a dubious face beholds her axes reeking with the blood of her own commanders - which, lest the disturbance of military discipline should go unpunished, is splendid abroad, but it is the cause of private grief enough, to those who are uncertain whether to perform the office of congratulating or comforting. And therefore with doubtful thoughts have I coupled you two together, most severe observers of warlike discipline, Postumius Tubertus and Manlius Torquatus. For I am fearful of sinking under that weight of praise which you have merited, and revealing the weakness of my wit, while I presume to represent your virtue as it should be. For you, Postumius, as dictator, caused your victorious son A. Postumius to be beheaded - your son whom you begot to propagate the succession of your renowned family and your household rites; the charm of whose infancy you had cherished in your bosom and with your kisses; whom as a child you had instructed in learning, as a man in weapons - to be good, courageous, and obedient both to you and to his country; and only because without your command, without your leave, he had defeated his enemies, your fatherly command was to send him to the executioner. For I am certain that your eyes, overwhelmed with darkness in the brightest light, could not look upon the great work of your mind. But you, Manlius Torquatus, consul in the Latin war, commanded your son to be carried away by the lictor, and to be slain like a sacrifice, though he obtained a noble victory, because he had presumed to fight with Geminus Maecius, general of the Tusculans, when provoked to combat by him. You thought it better that a father should lack a courageous son, than that your country should lack military discipline.
[7.7] L Again, what great spirit do you think that Quintus Cincinnatus the dictator had, at that time when, after the Aequiculi were vanquished, he compelled Minucius to lay down the consulship, because the enemies had besieged his camp? For he thought him unworthy of the greatest command, whom not his virtue, but his trenches and his breastworks secured, and who was not ashamed to see the Roman arms, trembling for fear, shut up in their fortifications. Thus those imperious twelve fasces, with whom remained the chief honour of the senate, of the order of knights, of all the people, at whose nod all Latium, and all the strength of Italy was governed, were now shattered and broken, and submitted to the punishing authority of the dictatorship. And so that the breach of military honour should not go unpunished, the consul, punisher of all crimes, must himself be punished. By these propitiatory sacrifices, if I may so say, O Mars the father of our empire, when we degenerated from your auspicious discipline, your deity was appeased. By the infamy of kinsmen, relatives and brothers, by the murder of sons, and the ignominious degrading of consuls.
[7.8] L To the same purpose is that which follows. Papirius the dictator, when Q. Fabius Rullianus master of the horse had contrary to his command brought forth the army to battle, even though he returned a victor over the Samnites, yet was neither moved by his virtue, with his success, nor with his nobility; he caused the rods to be made ready, and the conqueror to be stripped. A spectacle of wonder! to behold Rullianus, master of the horse, and a victorious general, his clothes pulled off, his body naked, being lacerated with blows, to no other end than to sprinkle the glorious honour of his victories, so lately obtained, with the fresh blood of those wounds, which he had received in the field of battle, drawn from his body by the knotted stripes of the lictor. At length the army, moved by his entreaties, gave him the opportunity of fleeing to the city, where in vain he implored the aid of the senate; for Papirius nevertheless persevered in requiring his punishment. Therefore his father, after having been dictator, and three times consul, was compelled to appeal to the people, and upon his knees to beg the assistance of the tribunes of the plebs on the behalf of his son. But neither by this means could the severity of Papirius be restrained; but being entreated by the whole city, and by the tribunes themselves, he announced that he remitted the punishment not to Fabius, but to the city of Rome, and the authority of the tribunes.
[7.9] L L. Calpurnius Piso also, who as consul was making war in Sicily against the runaway slaves, when C. Titius the prefect of the cavalry was surrounded by the multitude of the enemy and forced to surrender his weapons, proceeded to punish the prefect with several marks of ignominy. He commanded him to stand by the headquarters, from morning till night, barefoot with the fringes of his gown cut off, and his tunic unloosened: he forbade him also to meet with other men, or to use the baths; and the troops which he commanded, having taken away their horses, he divided among the slingers. Thus by the disgrace of those who were guilty did Piso avenge the great dishonour of his country, having brought it so to pass, that they who out of a desire of life had allowed their weapons to become the trophies of fugitives - men fit to be crucified - and who were not ashamed to permit the ignominious yoke of servitude to be laid upon their liberty by the hands of slaves, might experience a life full of bitterness, and covet that death which they had so effeminately avoided.
[7.10] L Not less remarkable than that of Piso was the action of Q. Metellus; at the battle of Contrebia he placed five cohorts in a certain position, and when he saw them withdraw on account of the multitude of their enemies, he commanded them immediately to endeavour to recover their ground again. He added severely, that if any of them were found to have fled into the camp, he would be treated as an enemy; he did not hope by this means to regain what they had lost, but to punish them with the manifest hazards of the ensuing combat: Yet they, having received this reprimand, weary as they were, having no other encouragement but despair, renewed the fight, and with the slaughter of their enemies recovered their position. Thus there is nothing like necessity to harden human weakness.
[7.11] L In the same province, Q. Fabius Maximus, wishing to crush the fierce pride of a most haughty people, forced his gentle disposition for a time to lay aside all clemency, and to accustom himself to utmost rigour and severity. For he cut off the hands of all those that ran away from any garrison of the Romans and were taken, so that the sight of their maimed limbs might breed in others a fear of revolting. For those rebellious hands cut from their bodies, and scattered upon the bloody earth, taught others to beware of committing similar desertions.
[7.12] L Nothing could be more mild than the elder Africanus; yet for the establishment of military discipline, he thought it appropriate to borrow something of severity that was alien to his own natural kindness. For having conquered Carthage, and captured all those that had fled from the Romans to the Carthaginians, he more severely punished the Roman than the Latin deserters. For the former, as traitors of their country, he nailed to the cross; the latter, as perfidious allies, he merely beheaded. I shall not urge this act any farther, both because it was Scipio's, and because it is not fitting that a punishment designed for slaves should insult over Roman blood, though deservedly shed, especially when we may pass to other narratives not dipped in civil blood.
[7.13] L For the younger Africanus, having destroyed the Carthaginian power, made the deserters of other nations to fight with beasts in the public shows which he presented for the people.
[7.14] L L. Aemilius Paulus, after he had vanquished Perseus, caused all those that he had taken, who were guilty of this same crime, to be thrown to the elephants, so that by them they might be trod to death. A most profitable example, if we may be permitted modestly to judge of the actions of the greatest men without reproof. Military discipline requires a severe and quick method of punishment. For force consists of armed men, who when they grow disobedient will soon oppress others, unless they be brought low themselves.
[7.15] L But it is now time to make mention, not of what has been done by particular men, but what measures the whole senate took to preserve and defend their military discipline. L. Marcius, a military tribune, having with wonderful courage got together the remains of the two armies of P. and Cn. Scipio, which the victorious Carthaginians had almost destroyed in Spain, and being by them unanimously made general, wrote to the senate an account of his transactions, in which he began thus: "L. Marcius propraetor." The senate would not permit him to take this usurped title, knowing that it was the custom for the people, not the armies, to choose the general. Because this was a time when the commonwealth was in great danger, and had sustained great losses, one would have thought they should have rather flattered the tribune, who they saw so fairly acting for the restoration of their former honour. But no success, no merit could sway the senate more than their military discipline.
And they may have remembered what courageous severity their ancestors used in the Tarentine war. In this war, when the forces of the commonwealth were very much weakened and broken, they received a great number of their captive fellow-citizens, whom Pyrrhus had sent to them of his own accord; but they decreed, that they who had served on horseback, should serve among the infantry; and they who had served as foot-soldiers, should be enlisted among the slingers. Moreover, they enacted that none of them should come within the camp, nor be permitted to fortify the place assigned them outside the camp, nor any of them make use of a tent made from skins. But they offered the restoration of their previous status to all those that took double spoils from the enemy. These punishments made them, who were recently the dishonourable gifts of Pyrrhus, to be his most eager and fierce enemies.
The same rigour was used by the Senate towards those who deserted the commonwealth at Cannae. For when by the strictness of their decree they had reduced them to a worse condition than those who are dead, and at the same time had received letters from Marcellus asking that they would send them to him, to assist him in the siege of Syracuse; the Senate wrote back, that they were not worthy to be admitted into his camp. But they would send them to him provided that he would deal with them as he judged fitting for the honour of the commonwealth, that they should never be freed from service, that they should never receive any military reward, nor be permitted to return into Italy while there were any enemies remaining there. Thus has virtue always despised pusillanimous minds.
How heinously was the senate offended that the soldiers permitted Q. Petellius the consul, most courageously fighting against the Ligurians, to be slain! For they would neither let the legion continue to be paid, nor give them any arrears, because they had not exposed their bodies to the missiles of their enemies in order to ensure the safety of their general. And that decree of so noble an order remains also a glorious and eternal monument of Petellius, under which his ashes rest, renowned in the field of battle by his death, and in the senate by their vengeance.
With the same courage, when Hannibal offered them the liberty to redeem six thousand Romans who had been captured by him and were prisoners of war in his camp, they scorned his proposal; well knowing, that if six thousand young men had resolved to die bravely, they could not have been taken so abjectly. So that it was hard to say, which redounded most to their ignominy, that their country had so little esteem and care of them, or that their enemies showed so little fear of them; whether they fought for one side, or against the other, was considered of little consequence.
But if at any time the senate showed themselves severe in the maintenance of military discipline, then certainly they did so in a high measure, when they imprisoned the soldiers who had rebelliously taken possession of Rhegium, and after the death of Vibellius their leader, had of their own accord chosen M. Caesium his secretary as their next leader; and although M. Fulvius Flaccus, tribune of the plebs, declared that these proceedings against Roman citizens were contrary to ancestral custom, yet they persisted in their resolution. However, so that their actions might cause less offence, they ordered fifty men each day to be whipped and then beheaded; they forbade that their bodies should be buried, or that any lamentation should be made for them.
[7e.1] L This, conscript fathers, was gentle and full of mildness, if we consider the violence of the Carthaginian senate in ordering their military affairs; if their generals imprudently managed a war, even though it proved successful, they were nevertheless nailed to the cross. They imputed what the generals did well, to the assisting favour of the gods; what they did amiss, to their own misconduct.
[7e.2] L Clearchus, general of the Lacedaemonians, preserved his military discipline by a famous and notable saying, continually dinning into the ears of his soldiers, that they ought to fear their general far more than the enemy. He openly declared, that they must expect to suffer the same doom in flight, which they were fearing to receive in battle. Nor were they surprised to be thus threatened by their general, when they called to mind their mothers' language, who when they went to battle used to admonish them, that they should either return alive with their shield, or else be brought back dead upon their shield. Thus instructed within their own homes, the Spartans went out to fight. But enough of these foreign examples - having more plentiful, and those more joyful, examples to celebrate of our own.
Military discipline, being vigorously maintained, was what won all Italy to the Roman empire, together with the command of many cities, great kings, and mighty nations; it opened the straits of the Pontic sea, it delivered up the barricades and fortresses of the Alps and of Mount Taurus; and starting from the little hut of Romulus, made it the pillar of the whole world. Since so many triumphs have flowed out of its bosom, it seems appropriate now to discourse upon the right of triumphing.
[8.1] L Some commanders have requested triumphs to be decreed them for trifling battles: and therefore there was a law made, that no general should triumph unless he had slain five thousand of his enemies in one set battle. For our ancestors believed that the glory of our city consisted not in the number, but in the splendour and magnificence of her triumphs. And lest so brave a law might come to be obliterated by too greedy a desire for laurels, it was supported by another law, which L. Marius and M. Cato brought in as tribunes of the plebs. For that made it criminal for any general to exaggerate in their letters to the senate, the number of enemies slain or citizens lost. And they were also commanded as soon as they entered into the city, to swear before the city quaestors to the truth of what they had written to the senate.
[8.2] L Having mentioned these laws, it will be appropriate to relate what was adjudged thereupon, when the right of triumphing was discussed and debated among the most worthy men. C. Lutatius the consul and Q. Valerius the praetor had defeated and utterly destroyed a very great fleet of the Carthaginians near the coast of Sicily, whereupon the senate decreed a triumph to Lutatius the consul. But when Valerius requested that a triumph might be granted to him also, Lutatius opposed it, lest through the honour of triumph, the lesser authority should be made equal to the greater. The contention growing greater and greater, Valerius challenged Lutatius, claiming that the Carthaginian fleet was not defeated by his leadership. Lutatius did not hesitate to stipulate against this. When Atilius Calatinus, by agreement, sat as judge between them, Valerius claimed that the consul had been lame and lay in his litter, and that he himself performed all the duties of the commander. Then Calatinus, before Lutatius made his defence, said : "Tell me, Valerius, if you two were of contrary opinions whether to fight or not, whether were the command of the consul or the praetor to be obeyed?" Valerius answered that he could not deny that the consul was chiefly to be obeyed. "Again," said Calatinus, "if the consul's and your auspices were different, which were first to be followed?" "The consul's," replied Valerius. "Then," said the judge, "seeing that upon these two questions, about the chief command and the priority of auspices, you Valerius have admitted your adversary to be superior in both, I cannot make any further doubt. And therefore, Lutatius, though you have as yet made no defence, I give judgment on your behalf." A noble judge, who in a business that was so clear, would not waste and trifle away his time. More deserving and justifiable was the cause of Lutatius, who defended the right of a most sovereign honour. Yet it was not ill done of Valerius to require the reward of a prosperous and courageously fought battle; but it was not so lawfully demanded by him as by the other.
[8.3] L What shall we say to Cn. Fulvius Flaccus, who when the senate had decreed him the honour of a triumph, so much coveted by others, yet disregarded and refused it? He had enough to do with other things that befell him. For he no sooner entered the city, but he was vexed with public prosecutions, and at length was sent into exile, to expiate the offences which he had committed against religion.
[8.4] L Wiser therefore were Q. Fulvius and L. Opimius, the first of whom having taken Capua, and the latter having forced the Fregellans to a surrender, both requested of the senate permission to triumph. Both had done great things, yet both failed to attain their desire. Not out of any ill will that the conscript fathers had against them, but out of their care of preserving the mandate of the law; wherein it was enacted, that triumphs should be only decreed to those that had enlarged the empire, not to those who had only recovered what was in the possession of the Roman people beforehand. For there is as much difference between adding what was not, and restoring what was, as there is between the beginning of a good turn and the end of an injury.
[8.5] L This law whereof I speak was so carefully observed, that triumphs were denied to P. Scipio and M. Marcellus, though the first had recovered both Spains, and the latter had taken Syracuse; by reason that they were sent to the management of those affairs, without being appointed to any public magistracy. Now let them be approved, who in their longing for glory of any kind, with grasping hands pluck off ignoble twigs of laurel for victories over desert mountains and the beaks of pirate galleys! Spain had been torn off from the empire of Carthage, and the capital of Sicily cut down, yet the commanders could not ride on their triumphal chariots. But to whom was this refused? To Scipio and Marcellus, whose very names resembled an eternal triumph. But the senate, though they coveted nothing more than to see crowned those men of solid and true virtue, carrying upon their shoulders the safety of their country, thought better to reserve them for more justly merited laurels.
[8.6] L In this place I am to add, that it was the custom for the general that triumphed to invite the consuls to dinner, and for them, although invited, not to go; so that no person on the day of triumph should appear of greater authority, at the same feast, than the triumpher.
[8.7] L A commander in a civil war, even if he had done great things and very profitable to the commonwealth, was not permitted to have the title of imperator, neither were any supplications or thanksgivings decreed for him, nor was he permitted to triumph either in a chariot or in an ovation. For though such victories were necessary, yet they were full of calamity and sorrow, not obtained with foreign blood, but with the slaughter of their own countrymen. Mournful therefore were the victories of Nasica over Ti. Gracchus, and of Opimius over C. Gracchus. And therefore Catulus having vanquished his colleague Lepidus, with the rabble of all his followers, returned to the city, showing only a moderate joy. Gaius Antonius also, the conqueror of Catiline, brought back his army to their camp with their swords washed clean. Cinna and Marius greedily drank up civil blood, but did not then approach the altars and temples of the Gods. Sulla also, who made the greatest civil wars, and whose success was most cruel and inhumane, though he triumphed in the height of his power, yet as he carried many cities of Greece and Asia, so he showed not one town of Roman citizens.
I am grieved and weary of ripping open the wounds of the commonwealth. The senate never gave a triumph to anyone, nor did anyone desire it, while part of the city was weeping . But everyone stretched out his hand for the crown of oak, which was the reward of him that had saved the life of a fellow citizen. This crown has been affixed to the doorposts of the house of Augustus, so that it has the eternal glory of a triumph.
The most indissoluble bond of military discipline, and its strict observation, demand me to pass from thence to the censorship, the mistress and guardian of peace. For as the wealth of the people of Rome, by virtue of their commanders, increased to such a vast extent; so their modesty, continence and relationships were examined by the censors' severity - a work equalling the glory of military actions. For what avails it to be courageous abroad, and live badly at home? What avails it to take cities, conquer nations, and lay violent hands on kingdoms, unless there be reverence, justice and honour in the forum and the senate house? For unless that exists, riches heaped unto the sky will have no stable foundation. Necessary it is therefore to know these things, and to record the acts of the censors' authority.
[9.1] L Camillus and Postumius, being censors, commanded them that lived unmarried till they were old, to bring a sum of money into the treasury by way of penalty: and they judged them worthy of further punishment, if they should complain of so just a decree. They justly criticised them for not observing the law of Nature in begetting, seeing they had received Nature's benefit in being born; seeing also that their parents, by bringing them up, had put them under a debt to continue their offspring. To this they added, "Fortune has given you a long time to exercise that duty, and yet you continue to deprive yourselves of the name both of a father and a husband. Go therefore, and pay that which may be useful to the numerous posterity of others."
[9.2] L This severity was imitated by M. Valerius Maximus and C. Junius Bubulcus Brutus in a punishment of the same nature, who expelled L. Antonius from the Senate, because he had repudiated a virgin whom he had married, without consulting any of his friends. But whether this crime were greater than the former, I know not well how to determine: though this may be said, that by the former the sacred rites of matrimony were merely despised, by the latter they were injured. With great prudence therefore the censors thought him unworthy to have admission into the senate.
[9.3] L Thus Portius Cato removed L. Flaminius out of the number of the senators, because he had in his province caused a condemned person to be beheaded; choosing the time of execution at the will and for the sight of a woman with whom he was in love. He might have been forgiven in respect of the consulship which he had held, and the authority of his brother T. Flaminius. But the censor - and Cato, to show a double example of severity - thought him the rather to be degraded, because he had with so notorious and foul a crime defiled the majesty of so great and high an authority; and because he had thought it a slight matter, that the eyes of an harlot delighting in human blood, and the suppliant hands of king Philip, should be attributed to the same family.
[9.4] L What shall I say of the censorship of Fabricius Luscinus? All ages have told us, and will still declare to us, that Cornelius Rufinus, who had served as consul twice and as dictator with great renown, was by him expelled from the senate, because he had bought some silver house-ware, weighing ten pounds, that was deemed a bad example of luxury. Indeed the very letters of our age seem to be astonished, when they are compelled to record such severity, and to fear that they will be thought to be commemorating some other city; for it is hard to believe that within the same city ten pounds of silver was then thought disgraceful luxury, and is now considered contemptible poverty.
[9.5] L M. Antonius and L. Flaccus removed Duronius from the senate, because he had abrogated a law, whereby the costs of banquets were limited - and they had very good reason for so doing. For how impudently did Duronius on the rostra utter these words! "There are bridles put into your mouths, most worthy senators, by no means to be endured. You are bound and constrained in the bitter shackles of servitude. For there is a law made, that you ought to be frugal. Let us abrogate therefore that edict, so deformed with the rust of nasty antiquity. For what need is there of liberty, if they that wish to ruin themselves with luxury, may not do so?"
[9.6] L Let us now produce a pair, linked together with the same chain of virtue, and sharing in goodness, yet dissenting when they came to be struck with the desire of emulation. Claudius Nero and Livius Salinator, in the Second Punic War, were strong supports of the commonwealth; yet how divided was their censorship! For when they counted the centuries of the knights, to which number, by reason of their age, they themselves still belonged, when they came to the Pollian tribe, the herald seeing the name of Salinator, began to doubt with himself whether he should call him or no; when Nero realised this, he caused his colleague not only to be cited, but to lose his horse, because he had been found guilty by the judgement of the people. Salinator also stigmatised Nero with the same severity, giving this for a reason: because he had not sincerely returned into friendship with him. If any of the celestial deities had revealed to them that their offspring, through a long series of posterity, would lead to the birth of our princeps and saviour, they would soon have entered into a strict league of indissoluble kindness, and would have been content to leave the country they preserved to their common offspring.
But Salinator attempted to cast thirty-four tribes among the aerarii, because after having condemned him, they then made him consul and censor - pretending they must either be guilty of very great rashness or perjury. The Maecian tribe only he left free from disgrace, who by their votes judged him neither to merit condemnation, nor worthy of office. How constant and resolute a spirit had that man, who neither by the sad event of condemnation, nor by the multiplication of honours, could be brought to conduct himself otherwise than severely in the administration of the commonwealth!
[9.7] L Four hundred young men also of the order of knights, being a great portion of that order, patiently underwent the censors' mark of disgrace; M. Valerius, and P. Sempronius, taking their horses from them, reduced them all to the rank of aerarii, because when they were commanded to go to Sicily to work on the fortifications, they neglected to go.
[9.8] L Shameful cowardice was likewise severely punished by the censors. For M. Atilius Regulus and L. Furius Philus caused the quaestor Metellus, and several Roman knights, to be degraded to the rank of aerarii, and took their horses from them, because after the defeat at Cannae, they had decided to leave Italy together. And they set a great mark of infamy upon some other men, who had been taken by Hannibal, and afterwards sent by him as ambassadors for exchange of prisoners, in which they failed to obtain their request, but then refused to return. It was fitting for everyone of Roman blood to keep their faith, and therefore M. Atilius Regulus the censor punished them for perjury, whose father had chosen rather to suffer utmost torment, than break his word with the Carthaginians. This censorship reached out of the city into the camp, which desired that the enemy should neither be feared nor deceived.
[9.9] L Two examples, being alike, we have thought fit to add. C. Geta, who was removed by the censors L. Metellus and Cn. Domitius from the senate, was afterwards made censor himself. Also M. Valerius Messala, who had been disgraced by the censor, was afterwards advanced to the office of censor. For their disgrace sharpened their virtue; shame stirred them up to use all their endeavours to become worthy citizens, and to show that the censorship ought to be rather offered to them, than used against them.
There is also that majesty in illustrious men, as it were a private censorship, without the honour of tribunals, without the attendance of officers, but powerful in the obtaining of greatness. It glides into the minds of men, a welcome and happy presence, covered by a veil of admiration. It could rightly be described as a long and glorious honour, without any formal award of honour.
[10.1] L For what greater honour could be given to anyone, than what was given to Metellus, though he stood accused of a crime. For when he pleaded for himself upon a charge of bribery, and his accounts were demanded by his accusers, and were brought forth to be inspected by the jurors, they all refused to look upon them, lest they should seem to doubt of the truth of anything that was contained in them . For the jurors looked upon the life of so great a man, as an argument that he had prudently administered his province. And they thought it an unworthy thing to balance a little wax and a few writings against the integrity of so famous a person.
[10.2] L But what wonder that due honour was given to Metellus by his fellow-citizens, which an enemy did not refrain to render to the elder Africanus? For Antiochus, in the war which he made against the Romans, having taken Scipio's son prisoner, not only treated him honourably, but also sent him to his father, laden with royal gifts, though Antiochus had been by then almost driven out of his kingdom by him. But the enraged king rather chose to reverence the majesty of so great a man, than avenge his own misfortune.
When the same Africanus withdrew to his country-house in the village of Liternum, several pirate captains being in the same place, came to visit him. He believed that they came to do him some mischief, and placed a guard of his household servants upon the top of his house, being well prepared with force and courage to beat them off. When the said captains perceived this, they immediately sent back their soldiers, and laying down their weapons, they approached the great man. Declaring themselves to be his friends, they requested the sight and company of so great a man, as it had been a favour from heaven, and they asked him to vouchsafe them safety in beholding his greatness. When the servants related these words to Scipio, he commanded the doors to be unlocked, and the captains to be let in. They, paying reverence to the threshold as it had been some sacred altar, or holy temple, with great eagerness approached to kiss his hands. And after they had spent a long time in admiration of him, they left great gifts in the porch, such as they used to offer to the immortal gods, and they departed to their ships. What could be more noble than this effect and fruit of majesty? What more pleasing to behold or enjoy? He appeased his enemies' wrath by their admiration of him. His presence astonished the joyful eyes of the pirates. Should the stars falling from heaven offer themselves to men, they could not be capable of greater adoration.
[10.3] L This happened to Scipio while he was alive; the following happened to Aemilius Paulus when he was dead. For when his funeral was celebrated, and by chance certain leaders of Macedonia were then staying at Rome as ambassadors to the senate, they willingly offered themselves to carry the funeral bier. This will seem so much the greater honour, if one considers that the forepart of the bier was adorned with the trophies of his conquest of Macedonian. For how great must be the honour which they gave to Paulus, whom they would not refuse to carry, with the emblems of their own calamity in front of all the people! This spectacle added to his funeral the resemblance of another triumph. For thus did Macedonia render you, O Paulus, twice illustrious in our city, first by their spoils, secure and victorious; and then venerable in your death, by their shoulders.
[10.4] L Nor was it a small honour shown to your son Scipio Aemilianus, whom you gave in adoption, so that he was the ornament of two families. For being but a young man, and sent by Lucullus the consul from Spain into Africa to seek aid, the Carthaginians and Massinissa made him arbiter of peace terms, as if he had been consul and imperator. Carthage was ignorant of her own destiny. For the glory of his aspiring youth, by the indulgence of gods and men, was preserved for the ruin of that city; and just as previously by its capture, it had given the surname of Africanus to the Cornelian gens; so now by its destruction, it gave the surname for a second time to the same family.
[10.5] L What is more miserable than condemnation and exile? Yet the plots of the publicani could not avail to diminish the authority of Publius Rutilius. When he withdrew into Asia, all the cities of that province, hearing where he had gone, sent their ambassadors to meet him. Could he then be judged be an exile, rather than to be triumphing?
[10.6] L Marius also, being cast down into the depth of utmost misery, escaped out of the jaws of danger, by the benefit of his authority. For a public slave, a Cimbrian by birth, who was sent to kill him, while he was detained in a private house in Minturnum, did not dare to attack him, with his sword drawn, though Marius was an old man, unarmed, and almost famished; instead, being struck blind by the brightness of his countenance, he flung away his sword, and ran away, astonished and trembling. For the slaughter of the Cimbrians presented itself before his eyes; and the calamity of his vanquished nation suppressed his courage. The immortal gods deemed it an unworthy thing, that Marius should be slain by one single person from a nation, of which had subdued the whole. The Minturnians were also struck with the majesty of his person, and though he was now under the burden of misery and unavoidable destiny, yet they preserved him safe. Nor could the savage victory of Sulla daunt them from doing this; though Marius himself might have been sufficient to deter them from preserving Marius.
[10.7] L The admiration also of the upright and virtuous life of Porcius Cato, rendered him so respected by the Senate, that when he was delaying the day's business by a long speech against the publicani, contrary to the consul Caesar's will, and was therefore by his command taken away by the lictor to prison, the whole senate was not ashamed to follow him; and this thing did not a little soften the perseverance of Caesar's divine spirit.
[10.8] L At another time, while Cato was watching the Games of Flora which Messius the aedile presented, the people were ashamed to request that the actresses should appear naked; and when he was informed of this by Favonius, his great friend, who was sitting close by him, he departed out of the theatre, lest his presence should interfere with the customs of the show. The people, after loudly applauding his departure, renewed the ancient custom of merriment on the stage; confessing that they attributed more to the majesty of one man, than they claimed for the sake of their multitude. To what riches, to what power, to what triumphs, was this privilege granted? To a small patrimony, manners restrained within the bounds of continence, a small retinue, a house closed against ambition, one image amongst his paternal genealogy - not the most comely of aspects, but a virtue heightened with all perfections. Hence it was, that whoever would indicate a just and famous citizen, described him by the name of Cato.
[10e.1] L We must give some place also to foreign examples, so that being mixed with those of our own nation, the variety may appear more delightful. Xerxes, after taking the city of Athens, carried away to his own kingdom the bronze statues of Harmodius and Aristogiton, who had endeavoured to free that city from tyranny. A long time afterwards Seleucus took care to return them to their proper places. When they came into the harbour of Rhodes, the Rhodians invited those who brought them into their city, and laid the statues upon the sacred couches of the gods. Nothing could be more blessed than such a memory, that caused so much veneration to be given to a little bronze.
[10e.2] L What great honour was also given by the Athenians to Xenocrates, famous for his equal piety and wisdom! When he approached the altar, being obliged in giving his testimony to confirm that all which he had spoken was true, all the jurors rose and proclaimed that he should not take the oath, believing it proper to grant that to his truthfulness, which they would not permit to themselves when it came to giving sentence.
Book 3 →
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