«A false witness shall perish, but the man who hears him will speak endlessly» (Proverbs 21:28).
Publius Cornelius Scipio (236-183 B.C.) was one of history’s most brilliant Roman generals. After fifteen years of arduous battles, he defeated Hannibal in 202 B.C., in the Battle of Zama, on the outskirts of Carthage, thus putting an end to the Second Punic War. Now, Rome was the indisputable owner of the Mediterranean. In the year 201 B.C. Scipio entered Rome as a hero in the midst of the most impressive triumph, receiving all kinds of rewards and acknowledgements. In addition, the soldiers and the people nicknamed him «the African,» referring to the people he had defeated. The victories of Roman legions in the Mediterranean Basin, from Hispania to Syria, had brought great riches to Rome, transforming the austere city that was devoted to agriculture into a place where opulence, luxury and excess reigned. To many people, those changes were the cause of moral corruption and the adoption of a Greek lifestyle. A conservative group of Roman aristocrats disapproved of the breaking down of Rome’s ancient values. To them, Scipio the African, whose victories had brought so many changes to Rome, was the cause of their degradation. So they decided to find a way to get rid of him through some sort of accusation. The attacks didn’t cease until Scipio, tired from hearing the accusations, retired to his estate in Liternum, near Naples, claiming he was ill. In light of that situation, the Petillian Tribunes suggested fetching him to try him, but Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, Scipio’s personal opponent, said, «Is the great Scipio, conqueror of Africa, to stand here at our feet, tribunes?»
Scipio the African died in his villa at Liternum a short time later. Seneca attributed the following words to him, «O my country, make the most of the good that I have done, but without me. I have been the cause of your freedom, and I shall also be its proof; I go into exile, if it is true that I have grown beyond what is to your advantage!»
Not all great personal victories are appreciated by others. What’s more, sometimes what we feel are important accomplishments are thought to be calamities by others. Ungrateful people don’t mind defaming and destroying those who have given them all sorts of benefits. Instead, they’re blinded by hatred, envy and resentment. Ask the Lord today to help you be grateful toward others and not to be one of those that defame their benefactors.