After this, the ambassadors having been removed out of the senate-house, the senators began to be asked their opinions. Marcus Livius recommended, that Caius Servilius, the consul nearest home, should be sent for, that he might be present at the proceedings relative to the peace;
for as it was impossible that any subject of deliberation could occur of greater importance than the present, he did not see how it could be discussed, consistently with the dignity of the Roman people, in the absence of one or both of the consuls.
Quintus Metellus, who three years before had been consul, and had filled the office of dictator, said that, since Publius Scipio, by destroying the armies and by devastating the lands of the enemy, had reduced them to such a state that they were compelled as supplicants to sue for peace;
and as no one could estimate with more truth the intentions with which it was solicited, than he who was prosecuting the war before the gates of Carthage; the peace should be rejected or adopted on the advice of none other than Scipio.
Marcus Valerius Laevinus, who had been twice consul, endeavoured to show that those who had come were spies, and not ambassadors; that they ought to be ordered to depart from Italy; that guards should be sent with them to their very ships, and that Scipio should be written to not to relax in prosecuting the war.
Laelius and Fulvius added, that Scipio had grounded his hopes of effecting a peace on Hannibal and Mago not being recalled from Italy.
He considered that the Carthaginians would practise every species of dissimulation, in expectation of the arrival of those generals and their armies, and then, forgetful of all treaties, however recent, and all gods, would proceed with the war. For these reasons they were the more disposed to adopt the opinion of Levinus.
The ambassadors were dismissed without having accomplished the peace, and almost without an answer.