While it was commonly reported that without casting lots Africa was to be assigned to Publius Scipio as a new province, he himself, no longer satisfied with moderate fame, kept saying that he had been named consul not only to carry on the war but also to finish it.
This was impossible unless he should himself transport his army to Africa, he said, openly declaring that he would accomplish that result by popular vote if the senate should oppose.
This plan being by no means approved by the leading senators, while because of fear or else to curry favour, all the rest failed to speak out, Quintus Fabius Maximus, when asked his opinion, said: "I know that many of you, conscript fathers, hold that we are today debating a closed question, and that whoever expresses an opinion on Africa as a province, just as if it were an open question, will be speaking to no purpose.
For myself, however, in the first place I [p. 163]
do not understand how Africa is already definitely1
assigned to that brave and energetic man, the consul, since neither has the senate voted nor the people commanded2
that it be a province for this year.
In the second place, if it is his, I think that the consul who mocks the senate by pretending to bring before the house business upon which action has been taken is at fault, not a senator who in his proper order states his opinion on the matter under consideration.
And I am quite certain that in opposing such haste to cross over into Africa I must expose myself to two charges, first, of an inborn habit of delay,
which young men are free to call fear and lack of spirit, provided there are as yet no regrets that other men's policies have always appeared at first sight more attractive, mine the better in practice.
Secondly, they will accuse me of carping criticism and envy towards the daily increasing fame of a very brave consul.
From this suspicion if neither my past life and my character nor my dictatorship and five consulships can defend me, together with so much glory won in the field and at home that I tend to be sated rather than to crave it, may my years at least bring exemption. For what rivalry can I have with a man who is not even my son's contemporary?
In my dictatorship, although I was still at the height of my powers and in the stream of great events, no one heard me refuse either in the senate or before the people to have the command of my master of the horse, who was inveighing against me, made equal to mine, a thing which never had been heard of before.3
By acts rather than words I preferred to gain this4
result, that one who by the verdict of other men had been made my colleague should presently by his own admission place me above himself.
Much less would I, who have filled the high offices, set before me competition and rivalry with a young man in the very flower of his youth, with the intention,
of course, of having Africa, if it be denied him, awarded as a province to me, who am now worn out by mere living, not only by cares of state. With such glory as has been already earned must I live and die.
I have prevented Hannibal from conquering, in order that you men whose powers are still strong might even conquer him.