|Do not fly Iberia
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 34: Marcus Livius and Claudius Nero elected consul[208 BC]
Return to index
When the patricians began to look round and see who would make the best consuls, one man stood out conspicuously Gaius Claudius Nero. The question was, who was to be his colleague? He was regarded as a man of exceptional ability but too impulsive and venturesome for such a war as the present one, or such an enemy as Hannibal, and they felt that his impetuous temperament needed to be restrained by a cool and prudent colleague. Their thoughts turned to Marcus Livius. He had been consul several years previously, and after laying down his consulship had been impeached before the Assembly and found guilty. This disgrace he felt so keenly that he removed into the country, and for many years was a stranger to the City and to all public gatherings. It was about eight years after his condemnation that the consuls Marcus Claudius Marcellus and Marcus Valerius Laevinus brought him back to the City, but his squalid garments, his neglected hair and beard, his whole appearance showed pretty clearly that he had not forgotten the humiliation. The censors Lucius Veturius and Publius Licinius made him trim his hair and beard and lay aside his squalid garments and take his place in the senate and discharge other public duties. Even then he contented himself with a simple "aye" or "no" to the question before the House, and in the event of a division with a silent vote, until the case of his kinsman Marcus Livius Macatus came up, when the attack upon his relative's fair fame compelled him to rise in his place and address the House. The voice which after so long an interval was once more heard was listened to with deep attention, and the senators remarked to one another that the people had wronged an innocent man to the great detriment of the common-wealth, which in the stress of a grievous war had been unable to avail itself of the help and counsel of such a man as that. Neither Quintus Fabius nor Marcus Valerius Laevinus could be assigned to Gaius Nero as his colleague because it was illegal for two patricians to be elected, and the same difficulty existed in the case of Titus Manlius, who had moreover already refused a consulship and would continue to refuse it. If they gave him Marcus Livius as colleague, they felt that they would have a splendid pair of consuls. This suggestion put forward by the senators was approved by the great body of the people. There was only one among all the citizens who rejected it and that was the man on whom the honour was to be conferred. He accused them of inconsistency. "When he appeared in mourning garments at his trial they felt no pity for him, now, in spite of his refusal, they would have him put on the white robe of the candidate. They heaped penalties and honours on the same man. If they thought that he was a good citizen, why had they condemned him as a criminal? If they had found him to be a criminal, why were they entrusting him with a second consulship after he had misused the first?" The senators severely censured him for complaining and protesting in this way, and reminded him of Marcus Furius Camillus who after being recalled from exile restored his country to its ancient seat. "We ought to treat our country," they told him, "like our parents, and disarm its severity by patience and submission." By their united efforts they succeeded in making him consul with Gaius Claudius Nero.
Impeachment of Marcus Livius
Event: Impeachment of Marcus Livius