Scipio met with a less favourable hearing because it had been generally reported that, if he should not carry his point in the senate and have Africa decreed him as his province, he would at once bring a bill before the people.
And so Quintus Fulvius, who had been consul four times and censor, demanded of the consul that he should frankly state in the senate whether he would permit the senators to make a decree in regard to the provinces and would stand by their vote, or was intending to bring a bill before the people.
When Scipio replied that he would act for the best interests of the state, Fulvius said:
“I was not unaware, when I asked my question, of the answer you would give or of what you would do, since you make it plain that you are sounding the senate rather than consulting it, and since, unless we at once decree for you the province which you have desired, you have a bill ready.
Accordingly, tribunes of the people” he said “I demand of you that you come to my defence if I decline to express an opinion for the reason that, even in case our vote by division should favour a motion of mine, the consul will not consider it valid.”
Then arose a dispute, the consul maintaining that it was not right for the tribunes to use their veto to excuse a senator from stating his opinion when called upon in his regular [p. 191]
The tribunes made this decree: “If the1
consul permits the senate to assign the provinces, we decide that he must stand by the vote of the senate, and we will not allow a bill touching that matter to be brought before the people.
If he does not permit, we will come to the defence of a man who refuses to express an opinion on that matter.”2
The consul begged for one day to confer with his colleague; on the next day he gave the senate his permission.
The provinces were assigned by decree as follows: to one of the consuls Sicily and the thirty war-ships3
which Gius Servilius had commanded in the previous year;4
and permission to cross over to Africa was given, if he should consider that to be to the advantage of the state; to the other consul the land of the Bruttians and the war with Hannibal, together with the army which he preferred.5
Lucius Veturius and Quintus Caecilius were to decide between them by lot or by arrangement which of them was to wage war in the Bruttian land with the two legions which the
consul should leave there, and whichever should have that province assigned to him was to have his command continued for one year.
And for the rest who were to command armies and provinces —apart from consuls and praetors —their commands were continued. It fell to Quintus Caecilius by lot to wage war together with the consul in the Bruttian land against Hannibal. [p. 193]
Scipio's games were then held with great crowds6
and great approval on the part of the spectators.
As ambassadors Marcus Pomponius Matho and Quintus Catius were sent to Delphi to carry a gift from the spoils of Hasdrubal. They took a golden wreath weighing two hundred pounds and representations of spoils7
made of a thousand pounds of silver.
Although he had neither gained consent to hold a levy, nor had been especially insistent, Scipio obtained permission to take volunteers and to receive whatever should be given by the allies towards the construction of new ships, —this because he had stated that the fleet would not be an expense to the state.
First the Etruscan communities promised that they would aid the consul, each according to its own resources.
The men of Caere promised grain for the crews and supplies of every kind, the men of Populonium8
iron, Tarquinii linen for sails, Volaterrae the interior fittings of ships, also grain.
Arretium promised three thousand shields, an equal number of helmets; and that they would furnish a total of fifty thousand javelins, short spears and lances, with an equal proportion of each type; also axes, shovels, sickles, baskets and hand-mills, as many as were needed for forty war-ships;
a hundred and twenty thousand pecks of wheat also; and that they would contribute allowances9
for petty officers and oarsmen. Perusia, Clusium and Rusellae10
promised fir for shipbuilding and a great quantity of grain.
He [p. 195]
used fir also from forests belonging to the state.11
The communities of Umbria and in addition Nursia and Reate and Amiternum and the whole Sabine district promised soldiers.
Marsians, Paelignians and Marrucini in large numbers gave in their names as volunteers for the fleet.
Camerinum, although it treated with the Romans on an equal footing, sent an armed cohort of six hundred men.12
After thirty keels had been laid down, twenty quinqueremes and ten quadriremes, Scipio so pushed the work that on the forty-fifth day after the timber had been brought from the forests the ships, rigged and equipped, were launched.