The accusations would have had more weight that day than the defence had they not prolonged the debate to a late hour. The senate adjourned, having given the impression that the triumph would [p. 175]
The next day the relatives and friends1
of Manlius exerted all their efforts and the elder senators also prevailed by their influence, saying that no precedent
had been handed down in tradition that a commander who, after decisively defeating the enemy and accomplishing the task assigned him as his province, had brought home his army, should enter the City without the car and laurel, a private citizen and without honour.2
Respect for this tradition prevailed over ill-will and a full session voted the triumph.
Then all talk and thought of this debate were put into the background by a struggle greater and originating with a greater and more famous man.
Publius Scipio Africanus, as Valerius Antias asserts, was prosecuted by two men, each named Quintus Petillius.
This action each man interpreted according to his own inclinations.
Some reproached, not the tribunes of the people, but the whole state, for being able to allow this —the two greatest cities in the world, they said, were at about the same time found ungrateful towards their foremost citizens, but Rome was more ungrateful, because conquered Carthage had driven the conquered Hannibal into exile, while victorious Rome was driving out the victorious Scipio.
Others argued that no single citizen should attain such eminence that he could not be questioned under the laws; that nothing was so essential to equally distributed liberty as that every man, however powerful, should plead his cause.
What now —not to mention supreme position in the state —could be safely entrusted to any man if no accounting could be asked? Against a man, they said, who. cannot brook equitable law, no violence [p. 177]
Such was the current of talk until the day3
of the trial came. No other man before him, not even this same Scipio, when consul or censor, was ever escorted to the Forum by a greater crowd of men of every rank than was Scipio that day when he was the defendant.
Being bidden to plead his cause, he began so magnificent a speech about his achievements that it was very clear that no man had ever been better eulogized or more truthfully.
For he spoke of his deeds in the same temper and spirit in which he performed them, and there was no resentment among his hearers, since he was speaking to ward off peril and not to boast.