XVIII[18arg] Some stories of the elder Publius Africanus, taken from the annals and well worth relating.
How greatly the earlier Scipio Africanus excelled in the splendour of his merits, how lofty and noble of spirit he was, and to what an extent he was upheld by consciousness of his own rectitude, is evident from many of his words and acts. Among these are the following two instances of his extreme self-confidence and sense of superiority. When Marcus Naevius, tribune of the commons, accused him before the people 1 and declared that he had received money from king Antiochus to make peace with him in the name of the Roman people on favourable and easy terms, and when the tribune added sundry other charges which were unworthy of so great a man, then Scipio, after a few preliminary remarks such as were called for by the dignity and renown of his life, said: “I recall, fellow citizens, that this is the day on which in Africa in a mighty battle I conquered Hannibal the Carthaginian, the most bitter enemy of your power, and won for you a splendid peace and a glorious victory. Let us then not be ungrateful to the gods, but, I suggest, let us leave this worthless fellow, and go at once to render thanks to Jupiter, greatest and best of gods.” So saying, he turned away and set out for the Capitol. Thereupon the whole assembly, which [p. 371] had gathered to pass judgment on Scipio, left the tribune, accompanied Scipio to the Capitol, and then escorted him to his home with the joy and expressions of gratitude suited to a festal occasion. The very speech is in circulation which is believed to have been delivered that day by Scipio, 2 and those who deny its authenticity at least admit that these words which I have quoted were spoken by Scipio. There is also another celebrated act of his. Certain Petilii, tribunes of the commons, influenced they say by Marcus Cato, Scipio's personal enemy, and instigated to appear against him, insisted most vigorously in the senate 3 on his rendering an account of the money of Antiochus and of the booty taken in that war; for he had been deputy to his brother Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, the commander in that campaign. Thereupon Scipio arose, and taking a roll from the fold of his toga, said that it contained an account of all the money and all the booty; that he had brought it to be publicly read and deposited in the treasury. “But that,” said he, “I shall not do now, nor will I so degrade myself.” And at once, before them all, he tore the roll across with his own hands and rent it into bits, indignant that an account of money taken in war should be required of him, to whose account the salvation of the Roman State and its power ought to be credited. 4