"One thing it will be right, Publius Cornelius, for you to pardon me —inasmuch as in my own case I have never rated what men say more highly than the state —namely, if I do not prefer your glory, either, to the welfare of the state.
If, however, there were no war in Italy, or if the enemy were one from whose defeat no glory was to be earned, only then could a man who kept you in Italy, even if he did so with advantage to the state, be thought to have been bent on taking away the war from you and with it your opportunity for fame.
But since Hannibal as an enemy with army intact is occupying Italy for the fourteenth year, will you
be dissatisfied with your fame, Publius Cornelius, if in your consulship you shall have driven out of Italy the enemy who has caused us so many losses, so many disasters, and if you shall have the distinction of finishing the present war, just as Gaius Lutatius had that of ending the former Punic war?1
Unless Hamilcar is to be rated above Hannibal as a general, or that war above this [p. 167]
one, or unless that victory was greater and more2
famous than this one is to be, if only it be our good fortune to win in your consulship.
Would you rather have dragged Hamilcar away from Drepana or down from Eryx3
than have driven the Carthaginians and Hannibal out of Italy?
Although you take more delight in glory already won than in glory hoped for, even you would not boast of having rid Spain of the war rather than Italy.
"Not yet has Hannibal reached such a pass that the man who preferred some other war would not seem to have feared rather than despised him. Therefore gird yourself for this war, and not employing your roundabout method —crossing first to Africa, and then hoping Hannibal will follow you thither —but
rather by a direct march from here aim your campaign at the region where Hannibal is, if you seek your glorious palm for bringing the Punic war to an end.
This is also the natural order: first to defend your own possessions, then to proceed to attack those of others. First peace in Italy, then be it war-in Africa! and let our fear abate before we use fear as an offensive weapon against others.
If both can be done under your lead and your auspices, after defeating Hannibal here, storm Carthage over there. If one or the other of these two victories must be left to new consuls, the earlier will prove not only greater and more celebrated but the cause as well of the later victory.
For at the present time, not to mention that the treasury cannot support two widely separated armies, in Italy and in Africa, not to mention that no resources [p. 169]
remain out of which we may maintain fleets, out of4
which we may be able to furnish supplies, pray tell me, who does not see how great is the danger involved?
Publius Licinius will carry on the war in Italy, Publius Scipio in Africa.
Tell me, if a victorious Hannibal —may all the gods avert the omen! and my mind even shudders to mention it; but what has happened can happen —if he shall advance towards the city, then and not before, are we to summon you as consul out of Africa, as we summoned Quintus Fulvius5
What of it that in Africa also the fortune of war will make no distinctions? Let your own house be a warning, your father and uncle, slain with their armies within thirty days, and that in a land where for some years by
very great achievements on land and sea they won a most honourable name among foreign nations for the Roman people and for your family.
Time would fail me if I should attempt to enumerate the kings and generals who have rashly invaded the land of their enemies with disastrous defeats for themselves and their armies.
The Athenians, although their state had great foresight, leaving a war at home crossed over to Sicily with a great fleet under the leadership of a young man6
as energetic as he was noble, and in a single naval battle permanently ruined their prosperous state.