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Quote of the day: It had been the ancient policy of the fo
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVI Chapter 22: Election of the consuls[210 BC]
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As both the consuls had Apulia for their province, and as there was now less to be apprehended from Hannibal and the Carthaginians, they were directed to draw lots for the provinces of Apulia and Macedonia.Macedonia fell to the lot of Sulpicius, who succeeded Laevinus. Fulvius having been called to Rome on account of the election, held an assembly to elect new consuls; when the junior Veturian century, which had the right of voting first, named Titus Manlius Torquatus and Titus Otacilius. A crowd collecting round Manlius, who was present, to congratulate him, and it being certain that the people would concur in his election, he went, surrounded as he was with a multitude of persons, to the tribunal of the consul, and requested that he would listen to a few words from him; and that he would order the century which had voted to be recalled. While all present were waiting impatiently to hear what it was he was going to ask, he alleged as an excuse the weakness of his eyes; observing, that "a pilot or a general might fairly be charged with presumption who should request that the lives and fortunes of others might be intrusted to him, when in everything which was to be done he must make use of other people's eyes. Therefore he requested, that, if it seemed good to him, he would order the junior Veturian century to come and vote again; and to recollect, while electing consuls, the war which they had in Italy, and the present exigencies of the state. That their ears had scarcely yet ceased to ring with the noise and tumult raised by the enemy, when but a few months ago they nearly scaled the walls of Rome." This speech was followed by the century's shouting out, one and all, that "they would not in the least alter their vote, but would name the same persons for consuls;" when Torquatus replied, "neither shall I as consul be able to put up with your conduct, nor will you be satisfied with my government. Go back and vote again, and consider that you have a Punic war in Italy, and that the leader of your enemies is Hannibal." Upon this the century, moved by the authority of the man and the shouts of admirers around, besought the consul to summon the elder Veturian century; for they were desirous of conferring with persons older than themselves, and to name the consuls in accordance with their advice. The elder Veturian century having been summoned, time was allowed them to confer with the others by themselves in the ovile. The elders said that there were three persons whom they ought to deliberate about electing, two of them having already served all the offices of honour, namely, Quintus Fabius and Marcus Marcellus; and if they wished so particularly to elect some fresh person as consul to act against the Carthaginians, that Marcus Valerius Laevinus had carried on operations against king Philip by sea and land with signal success. Thus, three persons having been proposed to them to deliberate about, the seniors were dismissed, and the juniors proceeded to vote. They named as consuls, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, then glorious with the conquest of Sicily, and Marcus Valerius, both in their absence. All the centuries followed the recommendation of that which voted first. Let men now ridicule the admirers of antiquity. Even if there existed a republic of wise men, which the learned rather imagine than know of for my own part I cannot persuade myself that there could possibly be a nobility of sounder judgment, and more moderate in their desire of power, or a people better moralled. Indeed that a century of juniors should have been willing to consult their elders, as to the persons to whom they should intrust a command by their vote, is rendered scarcely probable by the contempt and levity with which the parental authority is treated by children in the present age.