"Now, though villany is never guided by reason, yet so far as it could exist in so nefarious a transaction, I would fain know what was your design.
Formerly, a legion which was sent to garrison Rhegium, wickedly put to the sword the principal inhabitants and kept possession of that opulent city through a space of ten years;
on account of which enormity the entire legion, consisting of four thousand men, were beheaded in the forum at Rome.
But they, in the first place, did not put themselves under the direction of Atrius the Umbrian, scarcely superior to a scullion, whose name even was ominous, but of Decius Jubellius, a military tribune; nor did they unite themselves with Pyrrhus, or with the Samnites or Lucanians, the enemies of the Roman people. But you made common cause with Mandonius and Indibilis, and intended also to have united your arms with them.
They intended to have held Rhegium as a lasting settlement, as the Campanians held Capua, which they took from its ancient Tuscan inhabitants;
and as the Mamertines held Messana in Sicily, without any design of commencing without provocation a war upon the Roman people or their allies. Was it your purpose to hold Sucro as a place of abode?
where, had I, your general, left you on my departure after the reduction of the province, you would have been justified in imploring the interference of gods and men, because you could not return to your wives and children.
But suppose that you banished from your minds all recollection of these, as you did of your country and myself; I would wish to track the course of a wicked design, but not of one utterly insane.
While I was alive, and the rest of the army safe, with which in one day I took Carthage, with which I routed, put to flight, and expelled from Spain four generals and four armies of the Carthaginians; did you, I say, who were only eight thousand men, all of course of less [p. 1201]
worth than Albius and Atrius, to whom you subjected yourselves, hope to wrest the province of Spain out of the hands of the Roman people? I lay no stress upon my own name, I put it out of the question.
Let it be supposed that I have not been injured by you in any respect beyond the ready credence of my death.
What! if I were dead, was the state to expire with me? was the empire of the Roman people to fall with me? Jupiter, most good and great, would not have permitted that the existence of the city, built under the auspices and sanction of the gods to last for ever, should terminate with that of this frail and perishable body.
The Roman people have survived those many and distinguished generals who were all cut off in one war; Flaminius, Paulus, Gracchus, Posthumius Albinus, Marcus Marcellus, Titus Quinctius Crispinus, Cneius Fulvius, my kinsmen the Scipios; and will survive a thousand others who may perish, some by the sword, others by disease; and would the Roman state have been buried with my single corpse?
You yourselves, here in Spain, when your two generals, my father and my uncle, fell, chose Septimus Marcius as your general to oppose the Carthaginians, exulting on account of their recent victory. And thus I speak, on the supposition that Spain would have been without a leader.
Would Marcus Silanus, who was sent into the province with the same power and the same command as myself, would Lucius Scipio my brother, and Caius Laelius, lieutenant-generals, have been wanting to avenge the majesty of the empire?
Could the armies, the generals themselves, their dignity or their cause, be compared with one another? And even had you got the better of all these, would you bear arms in conjunction with the Carthaginians against your country, against your countrymen? Would you wish that Africa should rule Italy, and Carthage the city of Rome? If so, for what offence on the part of your country?