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[99] Nay, for him it had been better to battle not only with the enemy but also with the waves, as he did, than to desert Greece when she was united for waging the war against the barbarians.

But let us leave illustrations both from story and from foreign lands and turn to real events in our own history. Marcus Atilius Regulus in his second consulship 1 was taken prisoner in Africa by the stratagem of Xanthippus, a Spartan general serving under the command of Hannibal's father Hamilcar.2 He was sent to the senate on parole, sworn to return to Carthage himself, if certain noble prisoners of war3 were not restored to the Carthaginians. When he came to Rome, he could not fail to see the [p. 377] specious appearance of expediency, but he decided that it was unreal, as the outcome proves. His apparent interest was to remain in his own country, to stay at home with his wife and children, and to retain his rank and dignity as an ex-consul, regarding the defeat which he had suffered as a misfortune that might come to anyone in the game of war. Who says that this was not expedient? Who, think you? Greatness of soul and courage say that it was not.

1 (2) the example of Regulus.

2 Cicero is careless in his dates. Regulus was consul in 267 and 256. He was defeated and taken prisoner in his second proconsulship at the battle of Tunes in 255. And the Hamilcar of 255 was not Hannibal's father, for his career does not begin until 247, when he was a mere youth, and he was still in his prime when he fell in battle in Spain, in 229.

3 At the battle of Panormus in 250 Lucius Caecilius Metellus took among the prisoners no less than thirteen Carthaginian generals—all men of noble birth.

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