CHAPTER XVIIScipio elected Consul -- Saves Mancinus from Destruction -- Demoralization of the Army -- Scipio's Speech to the Soldiers
 When the ill success of Piso and the preparation of the Carthaginians were reported at Rome, the people were chagrined and anxious, as the war was growing larger and more irreconcilable, and coming nearer every day. There could be no expectation of peace since they had been the first to break faith. Remembering the exploits of Scipio while he was a military tribune not long before, and comparing them with the present blunders and recalling the letters written to them by friends and relatives from the army on that subject, there was presently an intense desire that he should be sent to Carthage as consul. The election was drawing near and Scipio was a candidate for the ædileship, for the laws did not permit him to hold the consulship as yet, on account of his youth; yet the people elected him consul. This was illegal, and when the consuls showed them the law they became importunate and urged all the more, exclaiming that by the laws handed down from Tullius and Romulus the people were the judges of the elections, and that, of the laws pertaining thereto, they could set aside or confirm whichever they pleased. Finally one of the tribunes of the people declared that he would take from the consuls the power of holding an election unless they yielded to the people in this matter. Then the Senate allowed the tribunes to repeal this law, and after one year they reënacted it. In like manner the Lacedemonians, when they were obliged to relieve from disgrace those who had surrendered at Pylus,1 said, "Let the laws sleep to-day." Thus Scipio, while seeking the ædileship, was chosen consul. When his colleague, Drusus, proposed to him to cast lots to see which should have Africa as his province, one of the tribunes put the question of the command of that army to the people, and they chose Scipio. They also allowed him to take as many soldiers by conscription as had been lost in the war, and as many volunteers as he could enlist among the allies, and for this purpose to send to the allied kings and states letters written in the name of the Roman people, according to his own discretion. In this way he obtained assistance from them.