Ancestral inflation is nothing new, but the passage below is just a nice parallel for the fake “TER” (third triumph) claimed on RRC 415/1 (61 BCE).
N.B. Crawford tries to make this coin accurate by having it refer to times hailed imperator. He says the (false) three triumph tradition is a ‘late’ but ILLRP 392 which he cites as support is dated to the c. 57-56 BCE and associated with the restoration of the Fornix Fabianus.
“As to the statue of Africanus—what a mass of confusion! But that was just what interested me in your letter. Do you really mean it? Does the present Metellus Scipio [cf. RRC 459 and 460] not know that his great-grandfather was never censor? Why, the statue placed at a high elevation in the temple of Ops had no inscription except COS, while on the statue near the Hercules of Polycles there is also the inscription COS CENS, and that this is the statue of the same man is proved by attitude, dress, ring, and the likeness itself.
“But, by Hercules, when I observed in the group of gilded equestrian statues, placed by the present Metellus on the Capitol, a statue of Africanus with the name of Serapio inscribed under it, I thought it a mistake of the workman. I now see that it is an error of Metellus’s. What a shocking historical blunder!
“That statement of mine about Flavius and the Fasti, if it is a blunder, is common currency. You were quite right to raise the question.
“I followed the opinion which runs through nearly all historians, as is often the case with Greek writers. For example, do they not all say that Eupolis, the poet of the old comedy, was thrown into the sea by Alcibiades on his voyage to Sicily? Eratosthenes disproves it: for he produces some plays exhibited by him after that date. Is that careful historian, Duris of Samos, laughed out of court because he, in common with many others, made this mistake? Has not, again, every writer affirmed that Zaleucus drew up a constitution for the Locrians? Are we on that account to regard Theophrastus as utterly discredited, because your favourite Timaeus attacked his statement?
But not to know that one’s own great-grandfather was never censor is discreditable, especially as since his consulship no Cornelius was censor in his lifetime.”
(I’ve tweaked the Public Domain translation to reflect Shackleton Bailey’s readings)