Although some of these taunts were true, some half-true and hence plausible, nevertheless the motion of Quintus Metellus1
carried the day. In agreement with Maximus on the other points, he disagreed with him so far as concerned Scipio, the man whom the state chose not long before, he said, in spite of his youth as sole general to recover Spain;
then, after Spain had been rewon from the enemy, elected him consul to put an end to the Punic war, and counted upon him to draw Hannibal out of Italy and to conquer Africa.
How then was it logical for him, as if he were a Quintus Pleminius, suddenly to be all but condemned without a hearing, recalled from his province, although the Locrians said that the criminal acts against them of which they complained had been committed when Scipio was not even present, and nothing else could be charged [p. 287]
against him than slowness to anger, or else reluctance2
in sparing his legatus?
His proposal, he said, was that Marcus Pomponius, the praetor, to whom Sicily had been allotted as his province, should within three days leave for the province; that the consuls should choose ten legati at their discretion from the senate, to be sent with the praetor, as also two tribunes of the plebs and an aedile;3
that with these men as assessors the praetor should conduct an examination; if the offences of which the Locrians complained had been committed by the command or with the consent of Publius Scipio, they should order him to retire from his province;
if Publius Scipio should have already crossed over into Africa, the tribunes of the plebs and the aedile should go to Africa with two of the legati —those
whom the praetor should judge most competent —the tribunes and aedile to bring Scipio away, the legati to be in command of the army until anew general-in-command should reach that army;
if Marcus Pomponius-and the ten legati should find that the acts had been committed neither by order of Publius Scipio nor with his consent, that Scipio should remain with the army and carry on the war as he had planned.
A decree of the senate to this effect having been passed, the tribunes of the plebs were requested either to arrange among themselves or to choose by lot which two of them should go with the praetor and legati.
The matter of expiation for all that in the temple of Proserpina at Locri had been touched and profaned and carried away was referred to the college of pontiffs.
The tribunes of the plebs, Marcus Claudius [p. 289]
and Marcus Cincius Alimentus5 6
departed with the praetor and ten legati. A plebeian aedile was added to their number, and either in case Scipio in Sicily should fail to obey the praetor, or if he should have crossed already into Africa, the tribunes were to order the aedile to arrest him, and by virtue of their inviolable authority they were to bring him back. It was their plan to go to Locri first and then to Messana.