In this perplexing state of affairs, when all deliberation was at a stand, and a kind of torpor had seized on men's minds, Laevinus, the consul, observed, that "as the magistrates
were more honoured than the senators, and the senators than the people, so also ought they to be the first in taking upon themselves every thing that was burdensome and arduous.
If you would enjoin any duty on an inferior, and would first submit yourself and those belonging to you to the obligation, you will find everybody else more ready to obey; nor is an expense thought heavy, when the people see every one of their principal men taking upon himself more than his proportion of it.
Are we then desirous that the Roman people should have and equip a fleet? that private individuals should without repugnance furnish rowers? Let us first execute the command ourselves.
Let us, senators, bring into the treasury to-morrow all our gold, silver, and coined brass, each reserving rings for himself, his wife, and children, and a bulla for his son; and he who has a wife or daughters, an ounce weight of gold for each.
Let those who have sat in a curule chair have the ornaments of a horse, and a pound weight of silver, that they may have a salt-cellar and a dish for the service of the gods.
Let the rest of us, senators, reserve for each father of a family, a pound weight only of silver and five thousand coined asses.
All the rest of our gold, silver, and coined brass, let us immediately carry to the triumviri for banking affairs, no decree of the senate having been previously [p. 1066]
made; that our voluntary contributions, and our emulation in assisting the state, may excite the minds, first, of the equestrian order to emulate us, and after them of the rest of the community. This is the only course which we, your consuls, after much conversation on the subject, have been able to discover.
Adopt it, then, and may the gods prosper the measure. If the state is preserved, she can easily secure the property of her individual members, but by betraying the public interests you would in vain preserve your own.
This proposition was received with such entire approbation, that thanks were spontaneously returned to the consuls.
The senate was then adjourned, when every one of the members brought his gold, silver, and brass into the treasury, with such emulation excited, that they were desirous that their names should appear among the first on the public tables; so that neither the triumviri were sufficient for receiving nor the notaries for entering them.
The unanimity displayed by the senate was imitated by the equestrian order, and that of the equestrian order by the commons. Thus, without any edict, or coercion of the magistrates, the state neither wanted rowers to make up the numbers, nor money to pay them; and after every thing had been got in readiness for the war, the consuls set out for their provinces.