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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Polybius and the Scipios
By Polybius (c. 200–c. 118 B.C.)
 
From the ‘Histories’: Translation of Evelyn S. Shuckburgh

I WISH to carry out fully, for the sake of students, what was left as a mere promise in my previous book. I promised then that I would relate the origin and manner of the rise and unusually early glory of Scipio’s reputation in Rome; and also how it came about that Polybius became so attached to and intimate with him, that the fame of their friendship and constant companionship was not merely confined to Italy and Greece, but became known to more remote nations also. We have already shown that the acquaintance began in a loan of some books and the conversation about them. But as the intimacy went on, and the Achæan détenus were being distributed among the various cities, Fabius and Scipio, the sons of Lucius Æmilius Paulus, exerted all their influence with the prætor that Polybius might be allowed to remain in Rome. This was granted; and the intimacy was becoming more and more close, when the following incident occurred:—  1
  One day, when they were all three coming out of the house of Fabius, it happened that Fabius left them to go to the Forum, and that Polybius went in another direction with Scipio. As they were walking along, Scipio said, in a quiet and subdued voice, and with the blood mounting to his cheeks: “Why is it, Polybius, that though I and my brother eat at the same table, you address all your conversation and all your questions and explanations to him, and pass me over altogether? Of course you too have the same opinion of me as I hear the rest of the city has. For I am considered by everybody, I hear, to be a mild effete person, and far removed from the true Roman character and ways, because I don’t care for pleading in the law courts. And they say that the family I come of requires a different kind of representative, and not the sort that I am. That is what annoys me most.”  2
  Polybius was taken aback by the opening words of the young man’s speech (for he was only just eighteen), and said, “In heaven’s name, Scipio, don’t say such things, or take into your head such an idea. It is not from any want of appreciation of you, or any intention of slighting you, that I have acted as I have done: far from it! It is merely that, your brother being the elder, I begin and end my remarks with him, and address my explanations and counsels to him, in the belief that you share the same opinions. However, I am delighted to hear you say now that you appear to yourself to be somewhat less spirited than is becoming to members of your family; for you show by this that you have a really high spirit, and I should gladly devote myself to helping you to speak or act in any way worthy of your ancestors. As for learning, to which I see you and your brother devoting yourselves at present with so much earnestness and zeal, you will find plenty of people to help you both; for I see that a large number of such learned men from Greece are finding their way into Rome at the present time. But as to the points which you say are just now vexing you, I think you will not find any one more fitted to support and assist you than myself.”  3
  While Polybius was still speaking, the young man seized his right hand with both of his own, and pressing it warmly, said, “Oh that I might see the day on which you would devote your first attention to me, and join your life with mine. From that moment I shall think myself worthy both of my family and my ancestors.” Polybius was partly delighted at the sight of the young man’s enthusiasm and affection, and partly embarrassed by the thought of the high position of his family and the wealth of its members. However, from the hour of this mutual confidence the youth never left the side of Polybius, but regarded his society as his first and dearest object.  4
  From that time forward they continually gave each other practical proof of an affection which recalled the relationship of father and son, or of kinsmen of the same blood.  5
 
 
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