While Cato still tarried in Spain, Scipio the Great, who was his enemy, and wished to obstruct the current of his successes and take away from him the administration of affairs in Spain, got himself appointed his successor in command of that province. Then he set out with all the speed possible, and brought Cato's command to an end. But Cato took five cohorts of men-at-arms and five hundred horsemen as escort on his way home, and on the march subdued the tribe of the Lacetanians, and put to death six hundred deserters whom they delivered up to him.
Scipio was enraged at this proceeding, but Cato, treating him with mock humility, said that only then would Rome be at her greatest, when her men of high birth refused to yield the palm of virtue to men of lower rank, and when plebeians like himself contended in virtue with their superiors in birth and reputation. However, in spite of Scipio's displeasure, the Senate voted that no change whatever be made in what Cato had ordered and arranged, and so the administration of Scipio was marked by inactivity and idleness, and detracted from his own, rather than from Cato's reputation.
Cato, on the other hand, celebrated a triumph.1
Most men who strive more for reputation than for virtue, when once they have attained the highest honours of consulship and triumphs, straightway adjust their future lives to the enjoyment of a pleasurable ease, and give up their public careers. But Cato did not thus remit and dismiss his virtue, nay, rather, like men first taking up the public service and all athirst for honour and reputation, he girt his loins anew, and held himself ever ready to serve his friends and fellow-citizens, either in the forum or in the field.