"If either, Lucius Aemilius, you had, as I should prefer, a colleague like yourself, or if you were like your colleague, my words would be superfluous.
For, as two good consuls, even if I held my [p. 329]
peace, you would act in all respects in accordance1
with the public interest and your own loyalty; and, as bad ones, you would neither take my words into your ears nor my advice into your hearts.
As it is, when I see what your colleague is like and what you are like, it is to you alone that I must address myself: though I perceive that you will be a good man and good citizen to little purpose, if the state is lame on the other side and evil counsels enjoy the same rights and the same authority as good.
For you err, Lucius Paulus, if you suppose that your struggle will be less with Gaius Terentius than with Hannibal. I am not sure that you may not find the one more dangerous as an opponent than the other as an enemy, and that with your enemy you will have to contend only in battle; with your opponent, everywhere and at all times.
Against Hannibal and his legions you will have your cavalry and infantry to fight for you: when Varro takes the field, it will be to attack you with your own soldiers.
"For the very omen's sake, I would not have you remember Gaius Flaminius! Yet Flaminius only began to rave when he had been made consul and was in his province and had joined his army; whereas Varro was mad before he sought the consulship, as he was thereafter during his canvass, and is now as consul, before he has ever beheld his camp or the enemy.
And if a man can rouse such gusts of passion even now, by bragging of battles and of stricken fields among civilians, what think you he will do when surrounded by armed youths, where words are translated instantly into deeds?
And yet, if he fights at once, as he declares that he intends to do, either I know nothing of military science, of the [p. 331]
nature of this war, and of our enemy, or another2
place will be more notorious than Trasumennus for our overthrow.
"It is no time to boast, when I am speaking to one man, and for my part I had rather go too far in despising than in seeking reputation; but the simple truth is that the only way of conducting a war with Hannibal is the way in which I have conducted it;
and not only the event —that schoolmaster of fools —teaches us this, but the same reasoning which held good then will hold unchanged, so long as circumstances remain the same.
It is in Italy, our home-land, that we are fighting; everywhere about us are fellow citizens and friends;
they are helping us with arms, men, horses, and supplies, and will continue helping us —such proof of loyalty have they already given us in our adversity;3
each day that passes makes us better, wiser, more steadfast men.
Hannibal, on the contrary, is in an alien and hostile country, where all his surroundings are inimical and threatening, far from home and native city; for him there is no peace, on either land or sea; no cities receive him, no walls protect him; nowhere does he see aught that he can call his own; he subsists on the plunder of each day; he has barely a third of that army which he led across the Ebro;
more have perished by starvation than by the sword, and the few that are left have no longer any food.
Can you doubt then that if we sit still we must gain the victory over one who is growing weaker every day and is destitute of provisions, of replacements, and of money?
How long, before Gereonium,4
a pitiful fort in Apulia, as if it had been [p. 333]
the walls of Carthage, has he —but of myself I will5
not boast, even to you.
See how the consuls of last year, Servilius and Atilius, made a mock of him!
“This is the only way of safety, Lucius Paulus, and your fellow citizens will do more than your enemies to make it hard and dangerous for you.
For your own soldiers will desire the same thing as the soldiers of the enemy; Varro, the Roman consul, will long for the same thing as Hannibal, the Phoenician commander-in-chief. Single-handed you will have to thwart two generals. But thwart them you will, if you stand out with sufficient firmness against rumours and men's idle talk, if neither the foolish applause bestowed upon your colleague nor your own unmerited disgrace shall move you.
Truth, they say, is all too frequently eclipsed but never extinguished. He who scorns false glory shall possess the true.
Let them call you timid, instead of cautious; slow, instead of circumspect; unwarlike, instead of experienced soldier. I had rather a wise enemy should fear you than foolish fellow citizens should praise you. He who dares all things will earn Hannibal's contempt; he who does nothing rashly will inspire him with fear.
Yet I do not urge that you do nothing, but that reason and not fortune should be your guide. Be master always of yourself and all that is yours; be armed and watchful; be not wanting when opportunity presents itself to you, neither present an opportunity to your enemy.
All things will be clear and definite to one who does not hurry. Haste is improvident and blind.”