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Scipio Unmoved by Carthaginian Laments

Manifestations of emotion which go beyond what is
Scipio's answer to the envoys from Carthage after Zama, who made extravagant displays of sorrow.
customary among a particular people, if they are thought to be the result of genuine feeling evoked by extraordinary disasters, excite pity in the minds of those who see or hear them; and we are all in a manner moved by the novelty of the spectacle. But when such things appear to be assumed for the purpose of taking in the spectators and producing a dramatic effect, they do not provoke pity, but anger and dislike. And this was the case in regard to the Carthaginian envoys. Scipio deigned to give a very brief answer to their prayers, saying that "They, at any rate, deserved no kindness at the hands of the Romans, since they had themselves confessed that they were the aggressors in the war, by having, contrary to their treaty obligations, taken Saguntum and enslaved its inhabitants, and had recently been guilty of treachery and breaking the terms of a treaty to which they had subscribed and sworn. It was from a regard to their own dignity, to the vicissitudes of Fortune, and to the dictates of humanity that the Romans had determined to treat them with lenity and behave with magnanimity. And of this they would be convinced if they would take a right view of the case. For they ought not to consider it a hardship if they found themselves charged to submit to any punishment, to follow a particular line of conduct, or to give up this or that; they ought rather to regard it as an unexpected favour that any kindness was conceded to them at all; since Fortune, after depriving them of all right to pity and consideration, owing to their own unrighteous conduct, had put them in the power of their enemies." After this preamble he mentioned the concessions to be made to them, and the penalties to which they were to submit.

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