A Tough Choice

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 4.8:

“Fabricius Luscinus was a man who had attained great glory and performed many great deeds. Publius Cornelius Rufus was a man of action, a good warrior, and was pretty well versed in military discipline, but he was a thieving rogue cursed with bitter avarice. Fabricius did not approve of him, nor were they on friendly terms; this hatred was the result of Rufinus’ character. But when, in the crisis of the Roman Republic, there was a need for creating consuls, Rufinus sought the consulship against a crowd of competitors who were unwarlike and not to be entrusted with such an office, Fabricius used all of his power to make sure that Rufinus obtained the consulship. Many wondered at this extraordinary thing, that he should wish to make consul a man whom he hated most of all; Fabricius responded to this surprise by saying, ‘I would rather be fleeced by a Roman citizen than sold into slavery by an enemy.'”

Fabricius Luscinus magna gloria vir magnisque rebus gestis fuit.  P. Cornelius Rufinus manu quidem strenuus et bellator bonus militarisque disciplinae peritus admodum fuit, sed furax homo et avaritia acri erat.  Hunc Fabricius non probabat neque amico utebatur osusque eum morum causa fuit. Sed cum in temporibus rei difficillimis consules creandi forent et is Rufinus peteret consulatum competitoresque eius essent inbelles quidam et futtiles, summa ope adnixus est Fabricius, uti Rufino consulatus deferretur. Eam rem plerisque admirantibus, quod hominem avarum, cui esset inimicissimus, creari consulem vellet, “malo,” inquit “civis me compilet, quam hostis vendat”.

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