While the fathers were casting about to see whom they should make consuls, pre-eminent [p. 347]
above all the rest was Gaius Claudius Nero; their1
quest was for his colleague.
And they considered Nero a remarkable man, to be sure, but more hasty and violent than the war situation and Hannibal as enemy demanded.
They thought his violent nature must be tempered by giving him as his colleague a man of moderation and foresight. There was Marcus Livius,2
who many years before, after his consulship, had been condemned by verdict of the people,
and had been so indignant at that disgrace that he removed to the country and for many years absented himself from the city and also from every gathering of men.
About seven years after his condemnation Marcus Claudius Marcellus and Marcus Valerius Laevinus, the consuls, had brought him back into the city. But he wore old clothing and long hair and beard, revealing outwardly in countenance and garb a notable memory of the disgrace he had incurred, Lucius Veturius and Publius Licinius, the censors, compelled him to shave and lay aside his neglected appearance and to come into the senate and perform other public duties.
Even then, however, he would either assent in a word or go over to the side of the mover, until the case of his relative, Marcus Livius Macatus,3
whose reputation was involved, obliged him to stand up and deliver his opinion in the senate.
When he was heard at that time after so long an interval, he attracted men's attention to himself and gave occasion for their saying that the people
had wronged a man who did not deserve it, and that it had been a great loss that [p. 349]
in so serious a war the state had not availed itself of4
the services and the advice of such a man; that neither Quintus Fabius nor Marcus Valerius Laevinus could be given to Gaius Nero as his colleague, because it was not lawful to elect two patricians;
that the same reason applied to Titus Manlius, in addition to the fact that he had refused and would refuse the offer of a consulship.
An extraordinary pair of consuls it would be, if they should link Marcus Livius with Gaius Claudius as his colleague. And mention of the matter, beginning with the fathers, was not frowned upon by the people.
The only one in the state who rejected it, accusing the citizens of inconsistency, was the man to whom the office was tendered.
He said that, having shown no pity toward a defendant in mourning, they were offering the whitened toga to a reluctant man; honours and penalties were being heaped upon the same person.
If they thought him a good man, why then had they condemned him as a bad man and a criminal? If they had found him a criminal, why then, after unfortunately entrusting a former consulship, were they now entrusting a second to him?
When he made use of these and similar arguments and complaints, the fathers would rebuke him, and by reminding him that Marcus Furius,5
on being recalled from exile, had restored his native city when driven from her place —that, as in the case of parents, so the harshness of one's native city must be appeased by suffering and bearing it —through
the united efforts of them all, they elected Marcus Livius consul with Gaius Claudius.