This success more than anything else so exalted his ambition that he ignored the intervening offices which young men generally sought, the offices of tribune, praetor, and aedile, and thought himself worthy at once of a consulship; so he became a candidate for that office, with the eager support of his colonists. But the tribunes Fulvius and Manius opposed his course, and said that it was a monstrous thing for a young man to force his way into the highest office contrary to the laws, before he had been initiated, as it were, into the first rites and mysteries of government.
The senate, however, referred the matter to the votes of the people, and the people elected him consul1
along with Sextus Aelius, although he was not yet thirty years old. The lot assigned him to the war with Philip and the Macedonians, and it was a marvellous piece of good fortune for the Romans that he was thus designated for a field of activity where the people did not require a leader relying entirely upon war and violence, but were rather to be won over by persuasion and friendly intercourse.
For the realm of Macedonia afforded Philip a sufficiently strong force for actual battle, but in a war of long duration his phalanx was dependent for its vigour, its support, its places of refuge, and in a word for its entire effectiveness, upon the states of Greece, and unless these were detached from Philip, the war with him would not be a matter of a single battle.
Greece, however, had not yet been brought into much contact with the Romans, and now for the first time was drawn into political relations with them. Unless, therefore, the Roman commander had been a man of native goodness who relied upon argument more than upon war, and unless he had been persuasive when he asked an audience and kind when he granted one, ever laying the greatest stress upon what was right and just, Greece would not so easily have been satisfied with a foreign supremacy instead of those to which she had been accustomed. However, this will be made clear in the story of his achievements.