This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
The government showed quite as much energy at home as in the field.  Owing to the emptiness of the treasury the censors were released from the task of letting out public works to contract, and they devoted their attention to the regulation of public morals and the castigation of the vices which sprang up during the war, just as constitutions enfeebled by long illness naturally develop other evils.  They began by summoning before them those who were reported to have formed plans for abandoning Italy after the defeat of Cannae; the principal person concerned, M. Caecilius Metellus, happened to be praetor at the time.  He and the rest who were involved in the charge were put upon their trial, and as they were unable to clear themselves the censors pronounced them guilty of having uttered treasonable language both privately and publicly in order that a conspiracy might be formed for abandoning Italy.  Next to these were summoned those who had been too clever in explaining how they were absolved from their oath, the prisoners who imagined that when they had furtively gone back, after once starting, to Hannibal's camp they were released from the oath which they had taken to return.  In their case and in that of those above mentioned, all who possessed horses at the cost of the State were deprived of them, and they were all removed from their tribes and disfranchised.  Nor were the attentions of the censors confined to the senate or the equestrian order, they took out from the registers of the junior centuries the names of all those who had not served for four [8??] years, unless formally exempted or incapacitated by sickness, and the names of above 2000 men were removed from the tribes and the men disfranchised.  This drastic procedure of the censors was followed by severe action on the part of the senate. They passed a resolution that all those whom the censors had degraded were to serve as foot soldiers and be sent to the remains of the army of Cannae in Sicily. This class of soldiers was only to terminate its service when the enemy had been driven out of Italy.  As the censors were now abstaining, owing to the emptiness of the treasury, from making any contracts for repairs to the sacred edifices or for supplying chariot horses or similar objects, they were frequently approached by those who had been in the habit of tendering for these contracts, and urged to conduct all their business and let out the contracts just as if there was money in the treasury.  No one, they said, would ask for money from the exchequer till the war was over.  Then came the owners of the slaves whom Tiberius Sempronius had manumitted at Beneventum. They stated that they had had notice from the financial commissioners that they were to receive the value of their slaves, but they would not accept it till the war was at an end.  While the plebeians were thus showing their readiness to meet the difficulties of an empty exchequer, the moneys of minors and wards and then of widows began to be deposited, those who brought the money believing that their deposits would not be safer or more scrupulously protected anywhere than when they were under the guarantee of the State.  Whatever was bought or provided for the minors and widows was paid for by a bill of exchange on the quaestor.  This generous spirit on the part of individual citizens spread from the City to the camp, so that not a single horse soldier, not a single centurion would accept pay; whoever did accept it received the opprobrious epithet of "mercenary."
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.