Polybius Responds to Scipio's Speech
Polybius was taken aback by the opening words of
Scipio Aemilianus, b. B.C. 185.
the young man's speech (for he was only
just eighteen), and said, "In heaven's name,
Scipio, don't say such things, or take into
your head such an idea. It is not from any want of appreciation of you, or any intention of slighting you, that I have acted
as I have done: far from it! It is merely that, your brother
being the elder, I begin and end my remarks with him, and
address my explanations and counsels to him, in the belief
that you share the same opinions. However, I am delighted
to hear you say now that you appear to yourself to be somewhat less spirited than is becoming to members of your family:
for you show by this that you have a really high spirit, and I
should gladly devote myself to helping you to speak or act in
any way worthy of your ancestors. As for learning, to which
I see you and your brother devoting yourselves at present with
so much earnestness and zeal, you will find plenty of people
to help you both; for I see that a large number of such
learned men from Greece are finding their way into Rome at
the present time. But as to the points which you say are just
now vexing you, I think you will not find any one more fitted
to support and assist you than myself." While Polybius was
still speaking the young man seized his right hand with both of
his, and pressing it warmly, said, "Oh that I might see the day
on which you would devote your first attention to me, and join
your life with mine.
Polybius is some what alarmed at the responsibility.
From that moment I shall think myself
worthy both of my family and my ancestors."
Polybius was partly delighted at the sight of
the young man's enthusiasm and affection, and
partly embarrassed by the thought of the high position of his
family and the wealth of its members. However, from the hour
of this mutual confidence the young man never left the side of
Polybius, but regarded his society as his first and dearest object.