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HISTORY OF ROME.
Hannibal, after a laborious march of four days and three nights,
without repose, through the marshes, in which he lost an eye, arrives in Etruria. Caius Flaminius, consul, man of rash and inconsiderate conduct, is involved, by the artifice of Hannibal, in a dangerous defile, and cut off, with the greatest part of his army. Fabius Maximus created dictator, and sent against Hannibal; avoids fighting, and baffles Hannibals efforts. The master of the horse, Marcus Minucius, ercites general dissatisfaction against the dictator's dilatory conduct; is made equal to him in authority; engages the enemy with his half of the forces, and is saved from utter destruction by Fabius coming opportunely to his relief, with the other half of the Roman army; acknowledges his misconduct, and puts himself again under the command of the dictator. Hannibal, shut up by Fabius, in a valley at Cassilinum, extricates himself by a stratagem of tying fire-brands to the horns of oxen.
Æmilius Paullus and Terentius Varro utterly defeated at Canna, the former being slain, with forty-five thousand men, of whom were eighty senators, and thirty who had served the office of consul, prætor, or adile. A project of abandoning Italy quashed by Publius Cornelius Scipio, a military tribune, who afterwards acquired the surname of Africanus. Prosperous events in Spain. The Romans enlist slaves; refuse to ransom the prisoners ; go out, in a body, to meet Varro, and thank him for not despairing of the commonwealth.
"A T the first approach of spring, Hannibal quitted BOOK
XXII. his winter station. He had been foiled before, in his attempt to pass over the Apennine, by the in- Y.R.585. tolerable severity of the cold; for he would gladly B.C.217.
BOOK have effected it, exposed as he was, during his stay
in quarters, to the utmost degree of apprehension Y.R. 535.
and danger. For, when the Gauls, whom the hopes B.C. 217. of spoil and pillage had allured to his standard, per
ceived, that, instead of carrying off booty from the lands of others, their own had become the seat of war, and that they were burthened with the winter residence of both the contending armies, they turned upon Hannibal the enmity which they had harboured against the Romans. Many plots were formed against him, by their chiefs, from the effects of which he was preserved, by their treacherously betraying one another, and discovering their designs, through the same inconstancy which led them to conspire against him. But still he was careful to guard himself against their plots, by frequent disguises; changing sometimes his dress, sometimes the covering of his head. However, his fears, on this account, were his principal motives for leaving his winter quarters earlier than usual. In the mean time at Rome, Cneius Servilius entered on the office of consul, on the ides of March. He proposed to the senate to take under consideration the state of the commonwealth; whereupon the clamour against Caius Flaminius was renewed. “They created,” they said, , “ two consuls, yet had but one. For what legal au“thority, what auspices did the other possess? These “ the magistrates carried with them from home, from “ their own tutelar gods; and also those of the pub« lic, the Latine festival being celebrated, the sacri. “ fices on the Alban mount performed, and vows “ duly offered in the Capitol. Setting out in
a private capacity, he could not carry the aus
pices with him, neither could he take them new, “ and for the first time, in a foreign soil.” Their 'apprehensions were increased by reports of prodigies, brought from various places at once. In Sicily, a number of arrows, and in Sardinia, the truncheon of a horseman, as he was going the rounds of the watch on the walls of Sulci, BOOK took fire, as was said ; many fires were seen blazing XXII. on the shore; two shields sweated blood; several
Y.R.535 soldiers were struck by lightning; and the sun's orb B.C. 217. appeared to be contracted. At Præneste, red-hot stones fell from the sky. At Arpi, bucklers were seen in the air, and the sun fighting with the moon. At Capena, two moons appeared in the day-time. At Cære, the streams of water were mixed with blood; and even the fountain of Hercules was tinged with bloody spots. In the district of Antium, while people were reaping, bloody years of corn fell into a basket. At Falerii, the sky seemed to be rent asunder with a very wide cleft, and through the opening a strong light burst forth; the divining tickets, without any apparent cause, were diminished in size, and one fell out, which had this inscription, · Mars brandishes his spear.' About the same time, at Rome, the statue of Mars, on the Appian road, and the images of the wolves, 'sweated. At Capua, the sky appeared as if on fire, and the moon as falling amongst rain. Afterwards, prodigies of lesser note were heard of: some asserted that goats were converted into sheep; that a hen was turned into a male, and a cock into a female. The consul, laying before the senate all these matters, as reported, and bringing the authors of the reports into the senate-house, proposed to their consideration the affairs of religion. They decreed, that those prodigies should be expiated, some with the greater, some with the lesser victims; and that a supplication for three days should be performed at all the shrines; that, when the decemvirs should have inspected the books, all other particulars should be conducted in such manner as the gods should declare, in their oracles, to be agreeable to them. By the direction of the decemvirs, it was decreed, that, first, a golden thunderbolt, of fifty pounds' weight, should be made as an offering to Jupiter; and that