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Scipio's Manliness

Two years afterwards, when his natural father, Lucius
The liberality of Scipio to his brother and sisters, B. C. 160.
Aemilius, died, and left him and his brother Fabius joint heirs to his property, he did an act honourable to himself and worthy to be recorded. Lucius died without children in the eyes of the law, for the two elder had been adopted into other families, and the other sons, whom he was bringing up to be the successors to himself and to continue his family, all died;1 he therefore left his property to these two. But Scipio, perceiving that his brother was worse off than himself, renounced the whole of his share of the inheritance, though the property was valued altogether at over sixty talents, with a view of thus putting Fabius on an equality with himself in point of wealth. This was much talked about; but he afterwards gave a still clearer proof of his liberality. For when his brother wished to give some gladiatorial games in honour of his father, but was unable to support the expense, because of the enormous costliness of such things, Scipio contributed half of this also from his own pocket. Now the cost of such an exhibition, if it is done on a large scale, does not amount in all to less than thirty talents. While the fame of his liberality to his mother was still fresh, she died; and so far from taking back any part of the wealth he had recently bestowed on her, of which I have just spoken, Scipio gave it and the entire residue of his mother's property to his sisters,2 though they had no legal claim at all upon it. Accordingly his sisters again adopted the splendour and retinue which Aemilia had employed in the public processions; and once more the liberality and family affection of Scipio were recalled to the minds of the people.

With such recommendations dating from his earliest years, Publius Scipio sustained the reputation for high morality and good principles, which he had won by the expenditure of perhaps sixty talents, for that was the sum which he bestowed from his own property. And this reputation for goodness did not depend so much on the amount of the money, as on the seasonableness of the gift and the graciousness with which it was bestowed. By his strict chastity, also, he not only saved his purse, but by refraining from many irregular pleasures he gained sound bodily health and a vigorous constitution, which accompanied him through the whole of his life and repaid him with many pleasures, and noble compensations for the immediate pleasures from which he had formerly abstained.

1 Of his two younger sons' one died five days before his Macedonian triumph, the other three days after it. See Livy, 45, 40.

2 The two sisters were both named Aemilia; the elder was married to Q. Aelius Tubero, the younger to M. Porcius Cato, elder son of the Censor. The daughters were prevented from taking the inheritance of their mother's property by the lex Voconia (B. C. 174), in virtue of which a woman could not be a haeres, nor take a legacy greater than that of the haeres, or of all the haeredes together. The object of the law was to prevent the transference of the property of one gens to another on a large scale. It was evaded (1) by trusteeships, Gaius, 2, 274; Plutarch, Cic. 41: (2) by the assent of the haeres, Cic. de Off. 2, § 55. And it was relaxed by Augustus in favour of mothers of three children, Dio Cass. 56, 10. See also Cicero de Sen. § 14; de legg. 2, 20; de Rep. 3, 10; Verr. 2, 1, 42; Pliny, Panegyr. 42; Livy, Ep. 41.

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    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.42
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 40
    • Cicero, De Legibus, 2.20
    • Cicero, De Senectute, 14
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 2.55
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