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Quote of the day: At last, after well-merited commendation
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 8: Further activities of the Senate[210 BC]
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While the public attention was fixed on more important matters an old controversy was revived on the occasion of the election of a Curio Maximus, in place of Marcus Aemilius. There was one candidate, a plebeian, Gaius Mamilius Vitulus, and the patricians contended that no votes ought to be counted for him, as none but a patrician had ever yet held that dignity. The tribunes, on being appealed to, referred the matter to the senate, the senate left it to the decision of the people. Gaius Mamilius Vitulus was accordingly the first plebeian to be elected Curio Maximus. Publius Licinius, the Pontifex Maximus, compelled Gaius Valerius Flaccus to be consecrated, against his will, a Flamen of Jupiter. Gaius Laetorius was appointed one of the Keepers of the Sacred Books in place of Quintus Mucius Scaevola, deceased. Had not the bad repute into which Valerius had fallen given place to a good and honourable character, I should have preferred to keep silence as to the cause of his forcible consecration. It was in consequence of his careless and dissolute life as a young man, which had estranged his own brother Lucius and his other relations, that the Pontifex Maximus made him a Flamen. When his thoughts became wholly occupied with the performance of his sacred duties he threw off his former character so completely that amongst all the young men in Rome, none held a higher place in the esteem and approbation of the leading patricians, whether personal friends or strangers to him. Encouraged by this general feeling he gained sufficient self-confidence to revive a custom which, owing to the low character of former Flamens, had long fallen into disuse; he took his seat in the senate. As soon as he appeared Lucius Licinius the praetor had him removed. He claimed it as the ancient privilege of the priesthood and pleaded that it was conferred together with the toga praetexta and curule chair as belonging to the Flamen's office. The praetor refused to rest the question upon obsolete precedents drawn from the annalists and appealed to recent usage. No Flamen of Jupiter, he argued, had exercised that right within the memory of their fathers or their grandfathers. The tribunes, when appealed to, gave it as their opinion that as it was through the supineness and negligence of individual Flamens that the practice had fallen into abeyance, the priesthood ought not to be deprived of its rights. They led the Flamen into the senate amid the warm approval of the House and without any opposition even from the praetor, though every one felt that Flaccus had gained his seat more through the purity and integrity of his life than through any right inherent in his office. Before the consuls left for their provinces they raised two legions in the City to supply the necessary drafts for the armies. The old City army was made over by the consul Fulvius to his brother Gaius for service in Etruria, the legions which were in Etruria being sent to Rome. The consul Fabius ordered his son Quintus to take to Marcus Valerius, the proconsul in Sicily, the remains, so far as they had been got together, of the army of Fulvius. They amounted to 4344 men. He was at the same time to receive from the proconsul two legions and thirty quinqueremes. The withdrawal of these legions from the island did not weaken the occupying force in either numbers or efficiency, for besides the two old legions which had now been brought up to full strength, the proconsul had a large body of Numidian deserters, mounted and unmounted, and he also enlisted those Sicilians who had served with Epicydes and the Carthaginians, and were seasoned soldiers. By strengthening each of the Roman legions with these foreign auxiliaries he gave them the appearance of two complete armies. One of these he placed under Lucius Cincius, for the protection of that part of the island which had constituted the kingdom of Hiero; the other he retained under his own command for the defence of the rest of Sicily. He also broke up his fleet of seventy ships so as to make it available for the defence of the entire coast-line of the island. Escorted by Mutines' cavalry he made a tour of the island in order to inspect the land and note which parts were cultivated and which were uncultivated, and commend or rebuke the owners accordingly. Owing to his care and attention there was so large a yield of corn that he was able to send some to Rome, and also accumulate a store at Catina to furnish supplies for the army which was to pass the summer at Tarentum.