CHAPTER II. TIBERIUS GRACCHUS.
[Scipio Aemilianius.] General expectation would have pointed to Scipio Aemilianus, the conqueror of Numantia and Carthage, and the foremost man at Rome. He was well-meaning and more than ordinarily able, strict and austere as a general, and as a citizen uniting Greek culture with the old Roman simplicity of life. He was full of scorn of the rabble, and did not scruple to express it. 'Silence,' he cried, when he was hissed for what he said about his brother-in-law's death, 'you step-children of Italy!' and when this enraged them still more, he went on: 'Do you think I shall fear you whom I brought to Italy in fetters now that you are loose?' He showed equal scorn for such pursuits as at Rome at least were associated with effeminacy and vice, and expressed in lively language his dislike of singing and dancing. 'Our children are taught disgraceful tricks. They go to actors' schools with sambucas and psalteries. They learn to sing - a thing which our ancestors considered to be a disgrace to freeborn children. When I was told this I could not believe that men of noble rank allowed their children to be taught such things. But being taken to a dancing school I saw - I did upon my honour - more than fifty boys and girls in the school; and among them one boy, quite a child, about twelve years of age, the son of a man who was at that time a candidate for office. And what I saw made me pity the Commonwealth. I saw the child dancing to the castanets, and it was a dance which one of our wretched, shameless slaves would not have danced.' On another occasion he showed a power of quick retort. As censor he had degraded a man named Asellus, whom Mummius afterwards restored to the equites. Asellus impeached Scipio, and taunted him with the unluckiness of his censorship - its mortality, &c. 'No wonder,' said Scipio, 'for the man who inaugurated it rehabilitated you.'
Such anecdotes show that he was a vigorous speaker. He was of a healthy constitution, temperate, brave, and honest in money matters; for he led a simple life, and with all his opportunities for extortion did not die rich. Polybius, the historian, Panaetius, the philosopher, Terence and Lucilius, the poets, and the orator and politician Laelius were his friends. From his position, his talents, and his associations, he seemed marked out as the one man who could and would desire to step forth as the saviour of his country. But such self-sacrifice is not exhibited by men of Scipio's type. Too able to be blind to the signs of the times, they are swayed by instincts too strong for their convictions. An aristocrat of aristocrats, Scipio was a reformer only so far as he thought reform might prolong the reign of his order. From any more radical measures he shrank with dislike, if not with fear. The weak spot often to be found in those cultured aristocrats who coquet with liberalism was fatal to his chance of being a hero. He was a trimmer to the core, who, without intentional dishonesty, stood facing both ways till the hour came when he was forced to range himself on one side or the other, and then he took the side which he must have known to be the wrong one. Palliation of the errors of a man placed in so terribly difficult a position is only just; but laudation of his statesmanship seems absurd. As a statesman he carried not one great measure, and if one was conceived in his circle, he cordially approved of its abandonment. To those who claim for him that he saw the impossibility of those changes which his brother-in-law advocated, it is sufficient to reply that Rome did not rest till those changes had been adopted, and that the hearty co-operation of himself and his friends would have gone far to turn failure into success. But his mind was too narrow to break through the associations which had environed him from his childhood. When Tiberius Gracchus, a nobler man than himself, had suffered martyrdom for the cause with which he had only dallied, he was base enough to quote from Homer [Greek: os apoloito kai allos hotis toiaita ge hoezoi] - 'So perish all who do the like again.'