XIX[19arg] A story, taken from the annals, about Tiberius Gracchus, tribune of the commons and father of the Gracchi; and also an exact quotation of the decrees of the tribunes.
A FINE, noble and generous action of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus is recorded in the Examples. 1 It runs as follows: Gaius Minucius Augurinus, tribune of the commons, imposed a fine on Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, brother of Scipio Africanus the elder, 2 and demanded that he should give security [p. 79] for its payment. Scipio Africanus appealed to the college of tribunes on behalf of his brother, asking them to defend against the violent measures of their colleague a man who had been consul and had celebrated a triumph. Having heard the case, eight 3 of the tribunes rendered a decision. The words of their decree, which I have quoted, are taken from the records of the annals: “Whereas Publius Scipio Africanus has asked us to protect his brother, Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, against the violent measures of one of our colleagues, in that, contrary to the laws and the customs of our forefathers, that tribune of the commons, having illegally convened an assembly without consulting the auspices, pronounced sentence upon him and imposed an unprecedented fine, and compels him to furnish security for its payment, or if he does not do so, orders that he be imprisoned; and whereas, on the other hand, our colleague has demanded that we should not interfere with him in the exercise of his legal authority—our unanimous decision in this matter is as follows: If Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus will furnish security in accordance with the decision of our colleague, we will forbid our colleague to take him to prison; but if he shall not furnish the securities in accordance with our colleague's decision, we will not interfere with our colleague in the exercise of his lawful authority.” After this decree, Lucius Scipio refused to give security and the tribune Augurinus ordered him to be arrested and taken to prison. Thereupon Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, one of the tribunes of the commons and father of Tiberius and Gaius [p. 81] Gracchus, although he was a bitter personal enemy of Publius Scipio Africanus because of numerous disagreements on political questions, publicly made oath that he had not been reconciled with Publius Africanus nor become his friend, and then read a decree which he had written out. That decree ran as follows: “Whereas Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, during the celebration of a triumph, cast the leaders of the enemy into prison, it seems contrary to the dignity of our country that the Roman people's commander should be consigned to the same place to which he had committed the leaders of the enemy; therefore I forbid my colleague to take violent measures towards Lucius Scipio Asiaticus.” But Valerius Antias, contradicting this record of the decrees and the testimony of the ancient annals, has said 4 that it was after the death of Africanus that Tiberius Gracchus interposed that veto in behalf of Scipio Asiaticus; also that Scipio was not fined, but that being convicted of embezzlement of the money taken from Antiochus and refusing to give bail, was just being taken to prison when he was saved by this veto of Gracchus.