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3. Ti. Claudius Asellus, of the equestrian order, was deprived of his horse, and reduced to the condition of an aerarian, by Scipio Africanus, the younger, in his censorship, B. C. 142. When Asellus boasted of his military services, and complained that he had been degraded unjustly, Scipio replied with the proverb, " Agas asellum," i. e. " Agas asellum, si bovem non agere queas" (Cic. de Orat. 2.64), which it is impossible to translate so as to preserve the point of the joke; it was a proverbial expression for saying, that if a person cannot hold as good a station as he wishes, he must be content with a lower. When Asellus was tribune of the plebs in B. C. 139, he accused Scipio Africanus before the people (Gel. 3.4); and Gellius (2.20) makes a quotation from the fifth oration of Scipio against Asellus, which may have been delivered in this year. Among other charges which Asellus brought against Scipio, was, that the lustrum had been inauspicious (because it had been followed by a pestilence); and Gellius (4.17) has preserved two verses of Lucilius referring to this charge:

" Scipiadae magno improbus objiciebat Asellus
Lustrum, illo censore, malum infelixque fuisse."

Scipio replied, that it was not surprising that it should have been so, as his colleague, L. Mummius, who had performed the lustrum, had removed Asellus from the aerarians and restored him to his former rank. (Cic. de Ort. 2.66; comp. V. Max. 6.4.2; Aurel. Vict. de Vir. Ill. 58, where the opposition of Mummius to Scipio is alluded to.) This Claudius Asellus seems to be the same who was poisoned by his wife, Licinia. (V. Max. 6.3.8.)

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142 BC (1)
139 BC (1)
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