When the senate had finished its voting, the consul Lucius Aemilius went from the senate-house to a public meeting and made the following speech:
“I seem to have noticed, fellow-citizens, that greater congratulations were offered me when I was allotted Macedonia as my field of operations than when my election as consul was announced, or on the day when I entered upon office. The reason for this was none other, I believe, than that you regard me as capable of bringing the long-drawn-out war in Macedonia to an end worthy of the high position of the Roman people.
The gods too, I hope, approve this fall of the lot and will likewise be at my side in action.
So far I can partly prophesy, and partly hope; another matter I dare to assert as sure namely, that I will strive with every effort that the hope you have conceived for me shall not be vain.
What is required for the war has been voted by the senate, and since it is determined that I shall set out at once, for which I am not reluctant, the preparations will be made by that excellent man, my colleague Gaius Licinius, as vigorously as if he were going to conduct the campaign.
For your part, see to it that you have confidence only in the reports I make to the senate and to you, and beware of nourishing by your credulity the gossip for which no sponsor will appear.
For I have noticed that, as is commonly the case, so [p. 161]
now especially in this war no one is so scornful of1
rumour that his spirit cannot be weakened.
In all the clubs and even —God save us! —at dinner-tables there are experts who lead armies to Macedonia, who know where camp should be pitched, what places should be held with garrisons, when or by what pass Macedonia should be invaded, where granaries should be set up, by what routes on land or sea provisions should be supplied, when we must join battle with the enemy and when it is better to remain inactive.
Not only do they decide what should be done, but when anything is done contrary to their opinion, they accuse the consul as if he were in the dock. Such behaviour is a great obstacle to the men in the field.
For not everyone is as unwavering and as steadfast of spirit against hostile gossip as was Quintus Fabius, who preferred to have his independence of command lessened by popular folly rather than to neglect the best interests of the state for the sake of acclaim.
I am not, fellow-citizens, one who believes that no advice may be given to leaders; nay rather I judge him to be not a sage, but haughty, who conducts everything according to his own opinion alone. What therefore is my conclusion?
Generals should receive advice, in the first place from the experts who are both specially skilled in military matters and have learned from experience; secondly, from those who are on the scene of action, who see the terrain, the enemy, the fitness of the occasion, who are sharers in the danger, as it were aboard the same vessel.
Thus, if there is anyone who is confident that he can advise me as to the best advantage of the state in this campaign which I am about to conduct, let him not refuse his services to [p. 163]
the state, but come with me into Macedonia. I will2
furnish him with his sea-passage, with a horse, a tent, and even travel-funds. If anyone is reluctant to do this and prefers the leisure of the city to the hardships of campaigning, let him not steer the ship from on shore.
The city itself provides enough subjects for conversation; let him confine his garrulity to these; and let him be aware that I shall be satisfied with the advice originating in camp.”3
After this address and the due completion of the sacrifice at the Latin Festival,
which was held on March 314
on the Alban Mount, both the consul and the praetor Gnaeus Octavius immediately set out for Macedonia.
History records that the consul was escorted by an unusually great throng of persons paying their respects to him, and that men prophesied with almost sure expectation that the Macedonian war would come to an end, and that the return of the consul would be prompt and in great triumph.