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Scipio's Courage

Courage, however, is the most important element of
Scipio's physical strength and courage were confirmed by the exercise of hunting in Macedonia, and his taste continued after his return to Rome, and was encouraged by Polybius.
character for public life in every country, but especially in Rome: and he therefore was bound to give all his most serious attention to it. In this he was well seconded by Fortune also. For as the Macedonian kings were especially eager about hunting, and the Macedonians devoted the most suitable districts to the preservation of game, these places were carefully guarded during all the war time, as they had been before, and yet had not been hunted the whole of the four years owing to the public disturbances: the consequence was that they were full of every kind of animal. But when the war was decided, Lucius Aemilius, thinking that hunting was the best training for body and courage his young soldiers could have, put the royal huntsmen under the charge of Scipio, and gave him entire authority over all matters connected with the hunting. Scipio accepted the duty, and, looking upon himself as in a quasi-royal position, devoted his whole time to this business, as long as the army remained in Macedonia after the battle of Pydna. Having then ample opportunity for following this kind of pursuit, and being in the very prime of his youth and naturally disposed to it, the taste for hunting which he acquired became permanent. Accordingly when he returned to Rome, and found his taste supported by a corresponding enthusiasm on the part of Polybius, the time that other young men spent in law courts and formal visits,1 haunting the Forum and endeavouring thereby to ingratiate themselves with the people, Scipio devoted to hunting; and, by continually displaying brilliant and memorable acts of prowess, won a greater reputation than others, whose only chance of gaining credit was by inflicting some damage on one of their fellow-citizens,—for that was the usual result of these law proceedings. Scipio, on the other hand, without inflicting annoyance on any one, gained a popular reputation for manly courage, rivalling eloquence by action. The result was that in a short time he obtained a more decided superiority of position over his contemporaries, than any Roman is remembered to have done; although he struck out a path for his ambition which, with a view to Roman customs and ideas, was quite different from that of others.

1 That is, the morning from daybreak till about ten or eleven. The salutationes came first, and the law business in the third hour.

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    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, book 45, commentary, 45.9
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