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[114] But the most significant part of the story is this: the eight thousand prisoners in Hannibal's hands were not men that he had taken in the battle or that had escaped in the peril of their lives, but men that the consuls Paulus and Varro had left behind in camp. Though these might have been ransomed by a small sum of money, the senate voted not to redeem them, in order that our soldiers might have the lesson planted in their hearts that they must either conquer or die. When Hannibal heard this news, according to that same writer, he lost heart completely, because the senate and the people of Rome displayed courage so lofty in a time of disaster. Thus apparent expediency is outweighed when placed in the balance against moral rectitude.

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load focus Introduction (Walter Miller, 1913)
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