In like manner another matter which had been passed over in silence for about the same length of time was broached by Marcus Valerius Laevinus, who said it was proper that the sums contributed1
when he and Marcus Claudius were consuls should at last be repaid to private citizens; and that no one ought to be astonished that a matter in which the credit of the state-was involved should especially concern himself.
For in addition to the responsibility that in a way belonged peculiarly to a consul of the year in which the moneys had been contributed, he had also been the first to suggest such contribution, since the treasury was empty and the common people unable to pay a tax.2
This reminder was welcomed by the senators, and bidding the consuls to introduce the measure, they decreed that the money should be paid in three instalments; that the consuls who were then in office should pay the first in ready money, that the consuls of the third and fifth years should pay two instalments.3
Thereafter all other concerns yielded place to a single one, when the atrocities suffered by the Locrians4
but up to that time unknown were spread [p. 269]
abroad by the arrival of their envoys.
And it was5
not so much the crime of Pleminius that provoked men to anger as Scipio's partiality for him or else indifference.
The ten envoys of the Locrians, in soiled and neglected clothing and holding out the woollen bands of suppliants and olive branches, as is the custom of the Greeks, towards the consuls seated in the Comitium, fell to the ground before the tribunal as they raised a mournful plaint.
In answer to the consuls' question they said that they were Locrians who had suffered from Quintus Pleminius, the legatus, and the Roman soldiers such things as the Roman people would not wish even the Carthaginians to suffer; that they begged the consuls to give them permission to go before the senate and complain of their sufferings.