when in this difficult situation wisdom faltered, and a kind of lethargy had almost taken possession of men's minds, Laevinus, the consul, said that, as magistrates are superior to
the senate in [p. 137]
dignity, and as the senate is superior to the people,1
so ought they to be leaders in shouldering all that was hard and drastic.
“if there is a duty which you wish to lay upon an inferior, and you first set up the same obligation as against yourself and your family, you more readily find everyone submitting. and the outlay is not burdensome, when they see every prominent man taking upon himself more than his share in it.
accordingly, if we wish the Roman people to have fleets and equip them, and private citizens to furnish oarsmen without protest, let us first impose that upon ourselves.
gold, silver, coined bronze, let us senators bring it all into the treasury tomorrow, with the reservation that each is to leave a ring for himself and for his wife and his children, and a bulla
for a son, and those who have a wife or daughters may leave for each an ounce of gold by weight.
of silver those who have occupied curule chairs may leave horse —trappings2
and one pound each, so that they may keep a salt —cellar and a saucer for offerings to the gods.
the rest of the senators may leave only a pound of silver. of coined bronze let us leave five thousand asses
to each paterfamilias.
all the rest of the gold, silver, coined bronze let us forthwith deposit with the bank commissioners,3
without first making any decree of the senate, so that a voluntary contribution and competition in helping the republic may stir up to rivalry, first the spirit of the knightly order, and then of the plebeians as well.
this is the one way we consuls [p. 139]
have found, after conferring together at length;4
enter upon it with the kind aid of the gods! the commonwealth, if preserved, easily assures the preservation of private wealth also. in betraying what belongs to the commonwealth one tries in vain to save one's own possessions.”
to these words agreement was so spirited that they actually thanked the consuls.
the senate then adjourned, and each man brought his own gold and silver and bronze into the treasury, while such rivalry was aroused to have their names the first or among the first men on the public records, that neither were the commissioners equal to the task of receiving nor the clerks to that of making the entries.
the knightly order followed this unanimity of the senate, the populace that of the knights.5
Thus without an edict, without constraint on the part of any magistrate, the state lacked neither oarsmen to fill the complement nor their pay; also every preparation for war being complete, the consuls set out for their provinces.