Character of P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus
Publius Scipio, in the course of an active career in
an aristocratic state, secured such popularity with the multitude and such credit with the Senate, that when
Character of P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus, whose death Polybius places in this year,
but according to Livy wrongly, who assigns it to the previous year (39, 52).
some one took upon himself to bring him to trial before the people in the manner usual at
Rome, and produced many bitter accusations against him, he came forward and said nothing
but that "It ill-became the Roman people to listen to accusations against P. Cornelius
Scipio, to whom his accusers owed it that they had the power of speech at all."
At this the populace dispersed, and quitting the assembly, left the accuser alone. . . .
Once when there was a sum of money required in the Senate
for some pressing business, and the quaestor, on the ground
of a legal difficulty, refused to open the treasury on that particular day, Scipio said that "he would take the keys himself and
open it; for he was the cause of the treasury being locked at all."
And again, when some one in the Senate demanded an account
of the money which he had received from Antiochus before the
treaty for the pay of his army, he said that he had the ledger,
but that he ought not to be called to account by any one. But
on his questioner persisting, and urging him to produce it, he
bade his brother bring it. When the schedule was brought, he
held it out in front of him, and tearing it to pieces in the sight
of everybody bade the man who asked for it seek it out of these
fragments, and he demanded of the rest "How they could ask
for the items of the expenditure of these three thousand talents,
and yet no longer ask for an account of how and by whose
agency the fifteen thousand talents which they received from
Antiochus came into the treasury, nor how it is that they have
become masters of Asia, Libya, and Iberia?" This speech
not only made a strong impression on the rest, but also reduced
the man who demanded the account to silence.
These anecdotes have been related by me for the double
purpose of enhancing the fame of the departed, and of encouraging future generations in the paths of honour. . . .