(Penguin translation by H. Bettenson)
Challenge and defense of Aemilius Paulus' triumph, 167 BCE
37. Servilius then spoke as follows: "If it were impossible, citizens of Rome, to judge, from any other indication, how great a general Lucius Aemilius has proved, this one piece of evidence would be enough - that although he had in his camp such mutinous and unreliable troops, and an enemy of such high standing, so irresponsible, and so eloquent, as a demagogue, Paulus had no mutiny in his army. The same strictness in the commander which they now resent, restrained them at that time; and that was why they neither said nor did anything mutinous - they were kept under old-fashioned discipline.
"As for Servius Galba, if he wished by accusing Lucius Paulus to say goodbye to his apprenticeship and to give proof of his competence as a master-orator, then he ought not to have tried to stop the triumph; for, apart from anything else, the Senate had judged that triumph to be in order. Instead of that, on the day after the triumph had been held, when he would see Paulus a private citizen, he should bring a charge against him and arraign him according to law, or else, a little later, after Galba entered on his first magistracy, he should put his enemy on trial and accuse him before the people. In this way Lucius Paulus would get his triumph as the reward for his fine achievement in his glorious campaign; and he would also get his punishment if he had done anything unworthy of his past and present renown.
"But, to be sure, Galba wanted to disparage the praises of a man against whom he could bring no charge, no reproach. Yesterday he asked for a whole day for his accusation of Lucius Paulus; in fact, he wasted four hours - all that was left of the day - with his speech. Was ever an accused man so guilty that the offences of his life could not be displayed in that number of hours? And what charges did Galba bring against Paulus in that time which the latter would be concerned to deny, if he were on trial?
"I should like someone to produce for me two meetings, just for a minute or two; one an assembly of the troops from Macedonia, the other a gathering free from partisanship or hatred, with its judgement less impaired by such emotions, an assembly of the entire Roman people. Let the defendant be brought forth before the meeting of the city folk in their civilian dress. Tell us, Servius Galba, what would you say before the citizens of Rome? Certainly all that speech of yours might be cut down to this: you stood on guard, you would say, too strictly and too alertly; the sentries were inspected too severely and too carefully; you did more work than formerly, because the general was going round in person to make sure that the work was done; on one and the same day you had a march and went straight from the march into battle; and even when you were victorious he did not allow you to rest - he took you at once in pursuit of the enemy; and, though he could have made you rich by sharing out the spoils, he intends to convey the royal treasure in his triumph and then take it to the treasury.
"Such statements have some sting in them to arouse the feelings of the troops, who consider that the general has pandered too little to their indiscipline and their avarice; it is equally true that they would have had no effect upon the Roman people. Even though the Roman people might not recall the old stories their fathers told them about disasters suffered because generals courted popularity, and of victories won by strict discipline on the part of commanders, they certainly remember the last Punic War, and the difference between Marcus Minucius, the master of the horse, and Quintus Fabius Maximus, the dictator. And so it would have been evident that the accuser could not open his mouth and that a defence of Paulus was superfluous.
"Let us cross over to the other assembly; and now I imagine myself about to address you not as "citizens" but as "soldiers", on the chance that this title at least may have the power to provoke a blush of shame and to inspire some diffidence about offering outrage to your commander.
38. "Certainly my own emotions are different, when I imagine myself speaking to the army, than they were just now, when my speech was directed towards the commons of the city. Soldiers, what is it, in fact, that you are saying? Is there anyone in Rome - except Perseus -who does not want the triumph over Macedonia to be celebrated? If there is, will you not rend him limb from limb with the same hands that gave you the victory over the Macedonians? Anyone who forbids you enter the city in triumph would have prevented you from winning that victory, if he had had the power. You are mistaken, soldiers, if you suppose that a triumph is an honour only for the general and not also for his troops and for the entire people of Rome. It is not the glory of Paulus alone that is now in question.
"Moreover, many who did not obtain a triumph from the Senate held their triumph on the Alban Mount. No one can strip Paulus of the glory of finishing the Macedonian War, any more than he can rob Gaius Lutatius of the glory for the First Punic War, or Publius Cornelius of the glory for the Second, or the other generals who have celebrated triumphs after them. A triumph will neither increase nor diminish the status of Lucius Paulus as a commander; it is rather the reputation of the soldiers, and that of the entire Roman people, that is at stake in this matter - above all there is a danger that the Roman people may win a reputation for an envious and ungrateful attitude towards all Rome's most eminent citizens, and may seem in this respect to be imitating the Athenian people who through envy tear their leading men to pieces. Quite enough wrong was done by your ancestors to Camillus - but that outrage was committed before his recovery of the city from the Gauls; enough wrong was done by yourselves, just recently, to Publius Africanus. Let us blush for shame that the home and abode of the vanquisher of Africa was at Liternum, and that it is at Liternum that his tomb is now displayed. Let Lucius Paulus match these men in glory; but let him not be put on a par with them in the injustice he suffers at your hands.
"Let this disgrace, then, be blotted out before all else, a disgrace that shames us before other peoples, and is damaging to ourselves -for who would want to be like Africanus or Paulus in a state so ungrateful and so hostile to men of merit? But even if there were no such disgrace, and if only glory were in question, can there, I ask you, be such a thing as a triumph which does not show forth the glory of the Roman name, a glory belonging to us all? All those triumphs that have been celebrated over the Gauls, over the Spaniards, over the Carthaginians - do we speak of them as belonging only to the generals; or do we think of them as the triumphs of the Roman People? Just as triumphs were celebrated not simply over Pyrrhus or Hannibal, but over the Epirotes or the Carthaginians, so it was not merely Manius Curius or Publius Cornelius who celebrated those triumphs; it was the Romans. Soldiers, to be sure, are personally concerned, for they also wear the laurel, and each man is embellished with the decorations bestowed upon him, and thus bedecked they march in procession through the city, calling on the name of Triumph, and singing their own praises and the praises of their general. Whenever the troops are not brought back from the theatre of war for the triumph, there is a roar of protest from them; and yet even on such occasions they regard themselves as celebrating the triumph, although absent, because the victory has been won by their efforts. If anyone should ask you, soldiers, for what purpose you have been brought back to Italy, and why you were not discharged immediately neon the completion of your task; if you were asked why you have come to Rome still with the colours, with units at full strength, and why you are waiting here instead of dispersing to your various homes; what answer would you give, except that you wanted to be seen marching in triumph? You certainly ought to have wanted to put yourselves on show as conquerors.
39. "Triumphs have been celebrated in recent times over Philip, this king's father, and over Antiochus; and both these kings were still on their thrones at the time of the triumphs over them. And is there to be no triumph over Perseus, who has been taken captive and brought to Rome with his children? Suppose that those other two commanders were ascending the Capitol in the chariot, clad in their gold and purple; and that from a place below them Lucius Paulus -just one private citizen in the throng of civilians - called to them with thus question: "Lucius Anicius, Gnaeus Octavius, have you the better right to a triumph, or have I? What do you think?" It seems likely that they would give up their place in the chariot to him and for very shame would hand over their triumphal array. And what about you, you citizens of Rome? Do you prefer that Gentius, rather than Perseus, should be led in triumph, and that the triumph should be held for a supplement to the war instead of for the war itself? The legions from Illyricum will enter the city adorned with laurel, and so will the ship's crews. Are the Macedonian legions to be spectators of the triumphs of others after the cancellation of their own?
"And what after that, is to be done with all that abundant booty, with the spoils of such a bounteous victory? Where on earth are we to stow away all those thousands of pieces of armour stripped from the bodies of the enemy? Or are they to be returned to Macedonia? And what about the statues of gold, marble, and ivory; and the paintings, the fabrics, and all the embossed silver and gold, and all the royal money? Is all this to be conveyed into the treasury by night, as if it were stolen property? And what about the greatest show of all, a captured king, and the most renowned and wealthiest of kings -where shall he be displayed to the conquering people? Many of us remember how Syphax drew the crowds as a captured king -and he was a mere appendage to the Punic War. What then of Perseus, and of his sons, Philip and Alexander, bearers of such mighty names - are they to be withdrawn from the sight of our citizen body?
"As for Lucius Paulus himself, twice consul, the conqueror of Greece - all eyes are eager to behold him entering the city in his chariot. It was to this end that we made him consul, that he might finish the war which - to our immense shame - had dragged on for the space of four years. When the lot gave him this sphere of command, when he set out from Rome we marked him out, in our prophetic hearts, for victory and a triumph. Now that he has won that victory, are we going to deny him that triumph? I go further -are we to defraud not merely Paulus, but even the gods, of the honour that is theirs? For it is to the gods as well, not only to men, that the triumph is owing. Your ancestors took the gods as their point of departure in every important undertaking, and it was there that they brought such enterprises to a close. When a consul or a praetor sets out for his sphere of command and to war, with his lictors in their military cloaks, he pronounces his vows on the Capitol; and when war has been brought to a victorious end, he returns in triumph to the same Capitol, to the same gods to whom he pronounced his vows, bringing them the gifts that are justly due. Not the least part of the triumphal procession is formed by the sacrificial victims which lead the way, to bear witness that the general is returning with thanksgiving to the gods for his success in the service of the commonwealth. Remove all those victims, which he has dedicated to be led in the triumphal procession! Sacrifice them separately, here or there! And that is not all. There is also the banquet of the Senate, which is not held in a private place, nor even in a public spot that is not consecrated, but on the Capitol. What is the purpose of this ceremony? Is it to give pleasure to men? Or to do honour to the gods?
"Are you going to plunge all these arrangements into disorder at the instigation of Servius Galba? Are the gates to be shut against the triumphal procession of Lucius Paulus? Will Perseus, King of Macedon, be left behind in the Flaminian Circus, together with his sons, the throng of other prisoners, and the spoils of Macedonia? Will Lucius Paulus go home from the gate as a private citizen, as if coming back from a country holiday? You, centurion, and you, common soldier, listen to what the Senate has decreed about Paulus our general, instead of giving heed to the chatter of Servius Galba; and listen to what I am saying now instead of paying attention to him. The only thing he has learned is how to talk - and how to talk with slander and malice at that. As for me, I have on twenty-three occasions challenged and fought an enemy; I brought back the spoils from every man with whom I engaged in combat; I have a body decorated with honourable scars, all of them received in the front.'
It is said that at this point he took off his clothes and recounted the wars in which he had received the various wounds. While he was displaying his scars he accidentally uncovered what should have been kept concealed, and the swelling in his groin raised a laugh among the nearest spectators. Then he went on:
"Yes, you laugh at this; but I got thus too by sitting on my horse for days and nights on end; and I have no more shame or regret about this than about these wounds, since it never hindered me from successful service to the state either at home or abroad. I am a veteran soldier, and I have displayed before young troops this body of mine which has often been assailed by the sword; now let Galba lay bare his sleek and unmarked body.
"Tribunes," he cried, "recall the tribes to give their vote; I shall accompany you, soldiers, and observe which of you prefer an agitator to a general in war (1) [Aemilius Paulus celebrated a triumph].
40. The total amount of captured gold and silver carried in procession was 120,000,000 sesterces, according to Valerius Antias; but a considerably larger sum is reached by calculating the number of wagons and the weight of gold and silver described by the same author under various headings. As much again, it is said, was either spent on the recent war, or was scattered during the flight, when Perseus was making for Samothrace; and this is the more astonishing in that this enormous sum of money had been amassed within thirty years after Philip's war with the Romans, partly from the profits of the mines, partly from other resources. Thus Philip began his war with Rome when he was rather short of money, whereas Perseus was extremely wealthy at the start of his war.
Paulus himself at last appeared in his chariot. He made an impressive figure, his advanced age merely serving to increase the general dignity of his bearing. After the chariot came his two sons, Quintus Maximus and Publius Scipio, among other distinguished men; then followed the cavalry by troops, and cohorts of infantry in their order. Each infantryman received one hundred denarii, each centurion twice that sum, and each cavalryman three times as much. It is believed that Paulus would have given twice as much to the infantry, and to the rest in proportion, if they had supported his triumph in the voting or had contentedly applauded the announcement of the sum which was actually given.
But it was not only Perseus who at that time provided evidence of the changes and chances of human life, as he was led in chains before the victor's chariot through the city of his enemies: his conqueror Paulus, gleaming in gold and purple, afforded further testimony. After giving two of his sons to be adopted he had kept the two others at home, to be the sole heirs of his name, his domestic gods, and his household; and of these two the younger boy, about twelve years of age, departed this life five days before the triumph, and the elder, a boy of fourteen, left the world three days after the celebration. These boys ought to have ridden with their father in his chariot clad in their togas of boyhood and with their hearts set on similar triumphs for themselves.
A few days later a meeting of the commons was arranged for the consul by Marcus Antonius, tribune of the plebs, and Paulus gave an account of his achievements, as was the general custom of commanders, in a memorable speech, an utterance worthy of a Roman leader.
(1) 5. There is an omission in Livy here. The sentence in italics is supplied from Plutarch's Life of Aemilius Paulus.