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Scipio Africanus , a bad Politician ?

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216 Bce - Scipio is a military tribune at the age of 18 and chosen by the remains of the army to command it .

212 - Scipio is chosen to the office of Curula Aedile at the age of 22 !

210 - Scipio is Chosen (by the people , not the Senate) Proconsul to Hispania at the age of 24 ! A huge and unprecedented success . By now the "nobilty" saw him as a danger to the regime .

Scipio returned to Rome , was elected Consul (29 years old !) but now , the "nobility" (led by Cunctator) stood against him directly . From 205 until his death in 183 , Scipio did not manage to translate his popularity and superb generalship to a political achievements . Yes , he was Censor (and did nothing) , a Consul for the second time (and did nothing) and even Princeps Senatus . His success against Antiochus (as Legatus) made him more hated by the nobility , ending in the famous trials and death in self exile .


Livy said that Scipio , in 201 , could have taken the Republic as Perpetus dictator/consul . Scholars dismiss the notion as a Caesarian insertion but accept his huge popularty and unique position , a position that no one held until caesar (Marius had less popularity , Sulla was not "popularis") .


What were Scipio's interests in Rome ? Why the "nobility" hated him ? Why Scipio failed as a politician ? Did he failed ? If Scipio had wanted (my english..) to take the republic , could he was able to took it ?

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What were Scipio's interests in Rome ?


Considering the times he was in, I would presume that his first interest was to beat the Carthaginians, as that, by the time scipio was elected consul seemed to be far more important than the cursus honorum, and aquiring of personal glory. something demonstrated by the multiple elections by the senate of Fabius and Marcellus as consuls, because of their competance.

However, rather cynicaly I cant help thinking that all the prestige he was aquiring must have been at the back of his mind, and that during most of his career he would have been very 'happy' about that.


Why the "nobility" hated him ? Why Scipio failed as a politician ? Did he failed ?


I dont think he did fail, he just acieved it all at a younger age, and by the time he gained his second consulship there wasnt realy anything left for him to achieve within the system...

In Rome the political rivalrys were huge, it was part of their culture and nature to want to achieve more and better things than anyone else. This had a tendancy to cause mistrust and dislike of all who outshon their peers, and the political shunning of them; this hapened on multiple occasions, but the only one that sprigs to mind imediatly is Pompey.


If Scipio had wanted (my english..) to take the republic , could he was able to took it ?


I dont think the idea would ever evan have occered to him, and even if it had he probably would have dismised it. this is not from any favorable opinion of his moral values, but simply because to march on rome was unthinkable for a roman general, and the notion of a single man in power for any great length of time still went against the grain. When Sulla marched against Rome, even his supporters in the senate were shocked, and that was over a hundred years later.

And nor do i think he would have been able to, even if he had wished to. Back then, the army was still a levy (mostly) of landed citizens, who would have nothing to gain from installing Scipio as Dictator, and would have been repulsed by the idea anyway. Even his popularity with the citizens wouldnt have held if he had done such a thing; look what hapened to Gracchus. Although his main opposition was in the senate, when it was said he wished to become king, those that belived it turned against him.

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This really has nothing to with whether or not the man was a political success or failure, but Scipio reminds me of a conjugation of Cincinnatus and Caesar. Clearly there are differences from both men but similarities as well. Scipio may have lacked the same aristocratic popularity as Cincinnatus, perhaps stemming from his ambitious military campaigning, but following the political onslaught of Cato the Elder, he willingly retired without attempting to use his overwhelming plebeian support to circumvent the Republic.

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