Publius Scipio came back from the province1
of Gaul to choose the new consuls. The consular elections were held, at which Lucius Cornelius Merula and Quintus Minucius Thermus were returned.
On the following day the praetors were elected, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Gaius Scribonius, Marcus Valerius Messala, Lucius Porcius Licinus, and Gaius Flaminius. At the Megalesian Games2
were for the first time introduced by the curule aediles Aulus Atilius Serranus and Lucius Scribonius Libo.
At the Roman Games given by these aediles, the senate for the first time looked on segregated from
the common people,4
and this caused gossip, as every novelty usually does, some thinking that this distinction, which should have been granted long before, was at last bestowed upon a most honourable body;
others taking the view that whatever was added to the majesty of the senate was subtracted from the dignity of the commons, and that all such discriminations, which tended to draw the orders apart, were dangerous to impartial harmony and freedom.
For five hundred and fifty-eight years, they said, people had looked on from seats chosen at random; what had suddenly happened to make the Fathers unwilling to have the plebeians mingle with them in the crowd, or the rich man scorn the poor man as his neighbour at the show?
This was a novel and arrogant caprice, never desired nor practised by the senate of any other people.
It is reported that in the end even Africanus had repented that in his consulship he had suggested this innovation.5
So difficult it is to prove the need of any variation from ancient custom; people always prefer to stand by [p. 557]
the old ways, unless experience convincingly proves6