The Purification: The Republic Book IX

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SERVIUS FULVIUS FLACCUS RETURNS TO ROME AFTER almost two years of war in Hispania. He soon learns that all of Italy is short of food and that the Roman population is in an uproar over the behavior of its newly elected censors. THE ELECTION OF THE CENSORS EARLIER IN THE YEAR was politically shattering. NOT BECAUSE of the plebeian selection. Lucius Mummius, famous and popular because he had quickly defeated and dismantled Corinth during the war with the Achaean League two years before, had easily outpaced his inferior opponents. The election of a patrician censor was entirely different. PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO AFRICANUS AEMILIANUS, the eventual choice, WAS challenged by Appius Claudius Pulcher. Africanus had conquered the Carthaginians and razed their terrifying city three years earlier. Many citizens, however, were inclined toward Claudius, a master politician who put together a bone-crushing campaign that almost defeated Africanus. NOW THE TWO CENSORS ARE AT ODDS. AFRICANUS, still angry that he had such a struggle to reach his office and further insulted because Mummius is by age and the first candidate chosen the senior censor, insists on standards almost impossible for the censors’ assistants to reach. Mummius threatens to veto Africanus’s extreme proposals. The census appears to be on the verge of an unprecedented collapse. SERVIUS FULVIUS, LONG A CLIENT OF AFRICANUS and a loyal friend OF Mummius, arrives to act as a buffer between the two pre-eminent politicians in the City. He sets to work hoping that the next year’s struggles will not ruin his future career.

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