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[113] 32. Now, as Regulus deserves praise for1 being true to his oath, so those ten whom Hannibal sent to the senate on parole after the battle of Cannae deserve censure, if it is true that they did not return; for they were sworn to return to the camp which had fallen into the hands of the Carthaginians, if they did not succeed in negotiating an exchange [p. 395] of prisoners. Historians are not in agreement in regard to the facts. Polybius, one of the very best authorities, states that of the ten eminent nobles who were sent at that time, nine returned when their mission failed at the hands of the senate. But one of the ten, who, a little while after leaving the camp, had gone back on the pretext that he had forgotten something or other, remained behind at Rome; he explained that by his return to the camp he was released from the obligation of his oath. He was wrong; for deceit does not remove the guilt of perjury—it merely aggravates it. His cunning that impudently tried to masquerade as prudence2 was, therefore, only folly. And so the senate ordered that the cunning scoundrel should be taken back to Hannibal in chains.

1 Contrast between Regulus and the ten envoys from Hannibal.

2 The ancient Roman discipline.

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