Another affair, likewise, which had been passed over in silence for an almost equally long period, was laid before the senate by Marcus Valerius Laevinus; who said, “that equity required that the monies which had been contributed by private individuals, when he and Marcus Claudius were consuls, should now at length be repaid.
Nor ought any one to feel surprised that a case, where the public faith was pledged, should have engaged his attention in an especial manner; for, besides that the matter appertained, in some degree, peculiarly to the consul of that year in which the money was contributed, he was himself the author of the measure, as the treasury was drained, and the people unable to pay the taxes.”
This suggestion was well received by the senate, and, bidding the consuls to propose the question, they decreed, “that this money should be paid by three instalments; that the present consuls should make the first payment immediately, and the third and fifth consuls, from that time, the two remaining.”
After this, all their other cares gave place to one alone, when the sufferings of the Locrians, of which they had been ignorant up to that day, were made known by the arrival of [p. 1253]
Nor was it the villany of Pleminius so much as the partiality or negligence of Scipio in that affair, which excited the resentment of the people.
While the consuls were sitting in the comitium, ten ambassadors of the Locrians, covered with filth, and in mourning, and extending branches of olive, the badges of suppliants, according to the Grecian custom, prostrated themselves on the ground before the tribunal, with loud lamentations.
In answer to the inquiry of the consuls, they said, “that they were Locrians, who had suffered such things at the hands of Pleminius the lieutenant-general, and the Roman soldiers, as the Roman people would not wish even the Carthaginians to experience. They requested that they would allow them to appear before the senate, and complain of their sufferings.”