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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 11: Omens; actions of the Senate[209 BC]
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|It was further decided that before the consul left the City certain portents should be expiated. Various places had been struck y lightning: the statue of Jupiter on the Alban Mount and a tree near his temple, a grove at Ostia, the city wall and temple of Fortune at Capua and the wall and one of the gates at Sinuessa. Some people asserted that the water at Alba had run blood and that in the sanctuary of the temple of Fors Fortuna in Rome a statuette in the diadem of the goddess had fallen of itself on to her hand. It was confidently believed that at Privernum an ox had spoken and that a vulture had flown down on to a booth in the crowded forum. At Sinuessa it was reported that a child was born of doubtful sex, these are commonly called androgyni a word like many others borrowed from the Greek, a language which readily admits compound words; also that it had rained milk and that a boy had been born with an elephant's head. These portents were expiated by sacrifices of full-grown victims, and a day was appointed for special intercessions at all the shrines. It was further decreed that the praetor Gaius Hostilius should vow and celebrate the Games of Apollo in strict accordance with the practice of recent years. During this interval the consul Quintus Fulvius convened the Assembly for the election of censors. Two men were elected, neither of whom had attained the dignity of consul and Publius Sempronius Tuditanus. A measure was adopted by the plebs, with the sanction of the senate, authorising these censors to let the territory of Capua to individual occupiers. The revision of the senatorial roll was delayed through a difference between them as to who ought to be chosen as leader of the senate. The selection had fallen to Sempronius; Cornelius, however, insisted that they ought to follow the traditional usage in accordance with which the man who had been the first of all his surviving contemporaries to be appointed censor was always chosen as leader of the senate and in this case it was Titus Manlius Torquatus. Sempronius replied that the gods who had given him by lot the right of choosing had also given him the right to make a free choice; he should therefore act on his own discretion and choose Quintus Fabius Maximus, the man whom he claimed as foremost of all the Romans, a claim he would make good before Hannibal himself. After a lengthy argument his colleague gave way and Sempronius selected Quintus Fabius Maximus as leader of the senate. The revision of the roll was then proceeded with, eight names being struck off, amongst them that of Lucius Caecilius Metellus, the author of the infamous proposal to abandon Italy after Cannae. For the same reason some were struck out of the equestrian order, but there were very few on whom the taint of that disgrace rested. All those who had belonged to the cavalry of the legions of Cannae, which were in Italy at the time and there was a considerable number of them were deprived of their regulation horses. This punishment was made still heavier by an extension of their compulsory service. The years they had served with the horses furnished by the State were not to count, they were to serve their ten years from that date with their own horses. A large number of men were discovered who ought to have served, and all those who had reached the age of seventeen at the commencement of the war and had not done any military service were degraded to the aerarii. The censors next signed contracts for the rebuilding of the places round the Forum which had been destroyed by fire. These comprised seven shops, the fish-market and the Hall of Vestal.||
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Aerarius:1. Coppersmith. 2. Citizen of the lowest class.