Text #9617

Livy. History of Rome. Vol. 5
[Liv. 22.57. Translated by B. O. Foster. Harvard University Press. (14 Vols.)]

When the despatches from the consul and the praetor had been read it was decided that M. Claudius, who was commanding the fleet stationed at Ostia, should be sent to the army at Canusium and instructions forwarded to the consul requesting him to hand over his command to the praetor and come to Rome as soon as he possibly could consistently with his duty to the republic. For, over and above these serious disasters, considerable alarm was created by portents which occurred. Two Vestal virgins, Opimia and Floronia, were found guilty of unchastity. One was buried alive, as is the custom, at the Colline Gate, the other committed suicide. L. Cantilius, one of the pontifical secretaries, now called “minor pontiffs,” who had been guilty with Floronia, was scourged in the Comitium by the Pontifex Maximus so severely that he died under it. This act of wickedness, coming as it did amongst so many calamities, was, as often happens, regarded as a portent, and the decemvirs were ordered to consult the Sacred Books. Q. Fabius Pictor was sent to consult the oracle of Delphi as to what forms of prayer and supplication they were to use to propitiate the gods, and what was to be the end of all these terrible disasters. Meanwhile, in obedience to the Books of Destiny, some strange and unusual sacrifices were made, human sacrifices amongst them. A Gaulish man and a Gaulish woman and a Greek man and a Greek woman were buried alive under the Forum Boarium. They were lowered into a stone vault, which had on a previous occasion also been polluted by human victims, a practice most repulsive to Roman feelings. When the gods were believed to be duly propitiated, M. Claudius Marcellus sent from Ostia 1500 men who had been enrolled for service with the fleet to garrison Rome; the naval legion (the third) he sent on in advance with the military tribunes to Teanum Sidicinum, and then, handing the fleet over to his colleague, P. Furius Philus, hastened on by forced marches a few days later to Canusium. On the authority of the senate M. Junius was nominated Dictator and Ti. Sempronius Master of the Horse.

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