And it was with no less spirit that the Roman state was administered at home than in the field.
The censors, freed from the charge of contracting for public works on account of the emptiness of the treasury, turned their attention to the control of morals and the punishment of vices which had sprung from that war, just as bodies suffering from long illnesses of themselves produce defects.
First they summoned those who after the battle of Cannae were said to have abandoned the state. The foremost among them, Marcus Caecilius Metellus,1
happened at this time to be quaestor.
Inasmuch as he and the rest of those guilty of the same offence, on being ordered to plead their cases, proved unable [p. 231]
to clear themselves, the censors gave their verdict2
that in conversation and formal speeches they had attacked the state, in order to form a conspiracy to desert Italy.
Next after them were summoned those who had been too crafty in interpreting the discharge of an oath, —those of the captives who, after setting out and then returning secretly to Hannibal's camp, thought the oath they had sworn, that they would return, had been discharged.3
From these men and those mentioned above their horses, if they had such from the state, were taken away, and all were ejected from their tribes and made aerarii.4
And the diligence of the censors did not confine itself to regulating the senate and the order of the knights. From the lists of the younger men they culled the names of all who during four years had not served, without having had a legitimate exemption from the service or ill health as an excuse.
And of these above two thousand names were placed on the list of the aerarii,
and they all were ejected from their tribes.
And to this relentless stigma of the censors was added a severe decree of the senate that all of those whom the censors had stigmatised should serve on foot and be sent to Sicily, to the remnant of the army of Cannae. For this class of soldiers the term of service was not at an end until the enemy should be driven out of Italy.
Since the censors on account of the emptiness of the treasury now refrained from letting contracts for the maintenance of temples and the furnishing of horses5
used in religious processions and for similar [p. 233]
matters, those who had been in the habit of such6
came in large numbers to the censors, and urged them to take action and let contracts at once for everything, just as if there were money in the treasury;
that no one would claim his money from the treasury until the war was over.
Then came the owners of the slaves Tiberius Sempronius had manumitted at Beneventum, and said they had been summoned by the bank commissioners8
to receive the price of their slaves; but that they would not receive it until the war was over.
Such being now the tendency of the people to relieve the poverty of the treasury, funds, first of wards, and then of widows and single women, began also to be turned in; for those who brought in the sums believed that nowhere could they deposit them with a sense of greater safety and honesty than under the guarantee of the state.
Thereafter when anything was purchased or provided for wards and widows and single women, it was paid for by an order of a quaestor.
This generosity of private citizens spread from the city also even to the camps, so that no knight, no centurion accepted pay, and the man who did accept was reproachfully called a hireling.