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Q. Metellus, in the funeral oration which he made in praise of his father, L. Metellus, who had been pontiff, twice consul,1 dictator, master of the horse, one of the quindecemvirs for dividing the lands,2 and the first who had elephants in his triumphal procession,3 the same having been taken in the first Punic war, has left it written to the effect that his father had attained the ten greatest and best things, in the search after which wise men have spent all their lives. For, as he states, he was anxious to become the first warrior, the best orator, the bravest general, that the most important of all business should be entrusted to his charge, that he should enjoy the very highest honours, that he should possess consummate wisdom, that he should be regarded as the most distinguished senator, that he should by honourable means acquire a large fortune, that he should leave behind him many children, and that he should be the most illustrious person in the state. To refute this assertion, would be tedious and indeed unnecessary, seeing that it is contradicted more than sufficiently by the single fact, that Metellus passed his old age, deprived of his sight, which he had lost in a fire, while rescuing the Palladium from the temple of Vesta;4 a glorious action, no doubt, although the result was unhappy: on which account it is, that although he ought not to be called unfortunate, still he cannot be called fortunate. The Roman people, however, granted him a privilege which no one else had ever obtained since the foundation of the city, that of being conveyed to the senate- house in a chariot whenever he went to the senate:5 a great distinction, no doubt, but bought at the price of his sight.

(44.) The son also, of the same Q. Metellus, who has given the above account of his father, is considered himself to have been one of the rarest instances of human felicity.6 For, in ad- dition to the very considerable honours which he obtained, and the surname which he acquired from the conquest of Macedonia, he was carried to the funeral pile by his four sons,7 one of whom had been prætor, three of them consuls, two had obtained triumphs, and one had been censor; each of which honours falls to the lot of a very few only. And yet, in the very full-blown pride of his dignity, as he was returning from the Campus Martius at mid-day, when the Forum and the Capitol are deserted, he was seized by the tribune, Caius Atinius Labeo,8 surnamed Macerion, whom, during his censorship, he had ejected from the senate, and was dragged by him to the Tarpeian rock, for the purpose of being precipitated there from. The numerous band, however, who called him by the name of father, flew to his assistance, though tardily, and only just, as it were, at the very last moment, to attend his funeral obsequies, seeing that he could not lawfully offer resistance, or repel force by force in the sacred case of a tribune;9 and he was just on the very point of perishing, the victim of his virtues and the strictness of his censorship, when he was saved by the intervention of another tribune,—only obtained with the greatest difficulty,—and so rescued from the very jaws of death. He afterwards had to subsist on the bounty of others, his property having been consecrated10 by the very man whom he had degraded; and who, as if that had not satiated his vengeance, still farther wreaked his malice upon him, by throwing a rope around his neck,11 and twisting it with such extreme violence that the blood flowed from out of his ears.12 And for my part, too, I should look upon it as in the number of his misfortunes, to have been the enemy of the second Africanus; indeed, Macedonicus, in this instance, bears testimony against himself; for he said to his sons, "Go, my children, render the last duties to Scipio; you will never witness the funeral of a greater citizen than him;" and this speech he made to his sons, one of whom had already acquired the surname of Balearicus, and another of Diadematus,13 he himself at the time bearing that of Macedonicus.

Now, if we take into account the above injury alone, can any one justly pronounce that man happy, whose life was thus endangered by the caprice of an enemy, and that enemy, besides, not an Africanus? What victories over enemies could possibly be counterbalanced by such a price as this? What honours, what triumphs, did not Fortune cancel, in suffering a censor to be dragged through the middle of the city—indeed, that was his only resource for gaining time14—dragged to that Capitol, whither he himself, in his triumph, had forborne to drag in a similar manner even the very captives whom he had taken in his conquests? This crime, too, must be looked upon as all the greater, from its having so nearly deprived Macedonicus of the honours of his funeral, so great and so glorious, in which he was borne to the pile by his triumphant children, he himself thus triumphing, as it were, in his very obsequies. Most assuredly, there is no happiness that can be called unalloyed, when the terror of our life has been interrupted by any outrage, and much more by such an outrage as this. As for the rest, I really am at a loss whether we ought most to commend the manners of the age,15 or to feel an increased degree of indignation, that, among so many members of the family of the Metelli, such wicked audacity as that of C. Atinius remained unpunished.

1 His consulships were A.U.C. 502 and 506—B.

2 Hardouin informs us, that a certain number of public officers, which varied from three to twenty, were appointed to divide the lands of the conquered people among the Roman colonists. Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 159.—B.

3 The commentators have endeavoured to prove, and not without some success, that Pliny is not correct in the remark, that the first elephants brought to Rome, were those which followed in the triumph of Metellus. He has himself informed us, B. viii. c. 6, that they were introduced by Curius Dentatus, in his triumph over Pyrrhus, some years before that of Metellus. The same fact is also stated by Florus, B. i. c. 18.—B.

4 Ovid, Fast. B. vi. 1. 436, et seq., and Val. Maximus, B. i. c. 4, allude to this circumstance.—B.

5 This fact has been supposed by Hardouin to be controverted by the statement of Aulus Gellius, who says, B. iii. c. 18, that all the senators, who had passed the curule chair, were carried to the curia or senate-house, in a chariot. But, as Ajasson correctly observes, Aulus Gellius does not assert that the senators were carried at the public expense, which was the case with Metellus.—B.

6 Val. Maximus, B. vii. c. 1, details the various fortunate circumstances which occurred to Q. Metellus; he makes no mention, however, of the violent attack made upon him by Labeo; indeed, he expressly states, that his good fortune continued to the last moments of his life.—B.

7 Val. Maximus, ubi supra, and Velleius Paterculus, B. i. c. 11, speak of the honours obtained by the four sons of Q. Metellus; they are also alluded to by Cicero in his 8th Philippic, sec. 4., and his Tusc. Quæst. B. i. c. 35.—B.

8 Dalechamps remarks, that we find in the ancient historians a similar account relative to M. Drusus, who, when tribune of the people, hurried off the consul Philippus with such violence to prison, that the blood started from his nostrils: also of P. Sempronius, the tribune of the people, who, had it not been for the opposition offered by his colleague, would have carried the censor Appius Claudius to prison.

9 This attack of Labeo on Metellus is mentioned in the Epitome of Livy, B. lix. The tribunes of Rome were styled "sacrosancti," and it was considered a capital crime to offer personal violence to them, under any circumstances. Hardouin remarks, that the tribune who came to the rescue of Metellus must have been a military tribune, who, in virtue of his office, had a right to claim the services of Metellus for the army.—B.

10 Cicero, in his oration "Pro Domo suâ," sec. 47, refers to the consecration of the property of Metellus, as a case analogous to that of his own house, which had been similarly consecrated by Clodius.—B. It seems to have been the custom, when a person had been capitally condemned, for the tribune of the people to consecrate his property, with certain formali- ties, to some god or goddess; after which it could not, under ordinary circumstances, be recovered, whether the sentence was revoked or not. Cicero had been capitally condemned through the instrumentality of Clodius, and obliged to fly from Rome.

11 It was a common expression among the Romans, for a person, "obtorto collo ad prætorem trahi," "to be dragged to the prætor with his neck wrenched;" and we meet with it repeatedly in the writings of Plautus. It would appear that it was customary for the lictors or officers of justice to seize criminals in a peculiar manner, perhaps with a rope, and with the exercise of great violence, whatever their rank.

12 According to the remark of Dalechamps, it appears to have been not unusual with the Roman magistrates, when resistance was offered to their order, to seize the party by the throat, as is here stated to have been done by Labeo.—B.

13 There has been considerable difficulty in ascertaining the names which should be given to the sons of Metellus, as the MSS. differ, and there appears to be no means of coming to any accurate decision, by a reference to other authorities. The essential circumstance, however, is, that two of the sons had obtained the honour of a triumph, and had acquired appropriate surnames.—B. Metellus Diadematus has been much confounded with his cousin, Metellus Dalmaticus. Diadematus was so called, from his wearing, for a long time, a bandage round his forehead, in consequence of an ulcer. He was consul B.C. 117.

14 By being dragged, and not proceeding willingly, in order to gain time for succour, and so save himself from being hurled from the Tarpeian rock.

15 Which allowed the laws to take their course, even against an individual of the first consequence in the state.—B.

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