According to Wikipedia:

On hearing that Lucius Caecilius Metellus and other young nobles were planning to go overseas to serve some king, Scipio [Africanus] stormed into the meeting, and at sword-point, forced all present to swear that they would not abandon Rome.

However, the citation for this is Livy's History of Rome 25.53, and no such section seems to exist—nor, in fact, any mention of Metellus in the entirety of book 25.

If this did in fact happen (or, at least, it was recounted by Roman historians), where would I find it? I'm looking ideally for Classical sources.

1 Answer 1


That should have been book 22 instead of 25:

[53] Ceterum cum ibi tribuni militum quattuor essent, Fabius Maximus de legione prima, cuius pater priore anno dictator fuerat, et de legione secunda L. Publicius Bibulus et P. Cornelius Scipio et de legione tertia Ap. Claudius Pulcher, qui proxime aedilis fuerat, omnium consensu ad P. Scipionem admodum adulescentem et ad Ap. Claudium summa imperii delata est. Quibus consultantibus inter paucos de summa rerum nuntiat P. Furius Philus, consularis uiri filius, nequiquam eos perditam spem fouere; desperatam comploratamque rem esse publicam; nobiles iuuenes quosdam, quorum principem L. Caecilium Metellum, mare ac naues spectare, ut deserta Italia ad regum aliquem transfugiant. Quod malum, praeterquam atrox, super tot clades etiam nouum, cum stupore ac miraculo torpidos defixisset qui aderant et consilium aduocandum de eo censerent, negat consilii rem esse [Scipio] Iuuenis, fatalis dux huiusce belli: audendum atque agendum, non consultandum ait in tanto malo esse. Irent secum extemplo armati qui rem publicam saluam uellent; nulla uerius quam ubi ea cogitentur hostium castra esse. Pergit ire sequentibus paucis in hospitium Metelli et, cum concilium ibi iuuenum de quibus allatum erat inuenisset, stricto super capita consultantium gladio, "ex mei animi sententia" inquit, "ut ego rem publicam populi Romani non deseram neque alium ciuem Romanum deserere patiar; si sciens fallo, tum me, Iuppiter optime maxime, domum, familiam remque meam pessimo leto adficias. In haec uerba, L. Caecili, iures postulo, ceterique qui adestis. Qui non iurauerit in se hunc gladium strictum esse sciat". Haud secus pauidi quam si uictorem Hannibalem cernerent, iurant omnes custodiendosque semet ipsos Scipioni tradunt.

Here's a translation:

  1. Now though there were four tribunes of the soldiers on the ground —Quintus Fabius Maximus of the first legion, whose father had been dictator the year before, Lucius [2??] Publicius Bibulus and Publius Cornelius Scipio of the second legion, and Appius Claudius Pulcher, who had very recently been aedile, of the third legion —the [3] supreme command was by unanimous consent made over to Publius Scipio, the merest youth,1 and to Appius Claudius. [4] These two were considering the general situation, in company with a few others, when Publius Furius Philus, the son of an ex-consul, came in and told them that they were idly entertaining a lost hope; the state was already given over and mourned as dead; [5] some of the young [p. 375]nobles, of whom Marcus Caecilius Metellus was the2 chief, were looking to the sea and ships, proposing to abandon Italy and flee for refuge to some king. [6] These evil tidings, dreadful in themselves and coming as a new distress on the top of so many disasters, stunned those who heard them with a dull amazement. But when they would have called a council to talk the matter over, young Scipio, the predestined leader in this war, declared that it was no matter for taking counsel: [7] they must be bold and act, not deliberate, in the face of this great evil; let them take arms and go with him at once, as many as wished to save the state; [8] no camp was so truly the camp of the enemy as one where such thoughts were rife. [9] He proceeded, with only a few followers, to the quarters of Metellus, where he found a gathering of the young men of whom he had been informed. [10] Raising his sword over their heads, as they sat in consultation, “I solemnly swear,” he said, “that even as I myself shall not desert the republic of the Roman People, so likewise shall I suffer no other Roman citizen to do so; [11] if I wittingly speak false, may Jupiter Optimus Maximus utterly destroy me, my house, my family, and my estate. [12] Marcus Caecilius, I call on you and the others who are present to swear after these terms, and if any refuse to swear, let him know that against him this sword is drawn.” [13] Quaking as though they beheld the victorious Hannibal, all took the oath, and delivered themselves into the custody of Scipio.
  • Wonderful! I fixed the citation on Wikipedia.
    – Draconis
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 16:18

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