Nero on the night following the battle set out1
for Apulia, and with a column moving more rapidly than when he had come from that region, reached his permanent camp and the enemy on the sixth day.
His march was attended by smaller throngs, because no messenger had come in advance, but by rejoicing so great that people were almost beside themselves for joy.
At Rome, of course, neither state of feeling can be sufficiently described and set forth, neither that in which the city had waited in suspense for the outcome, nor that in which it heard news of the victory.
Not once in all the days since it was first reported that Claudius, the consul, had set out did a senator leave the Senate House and the magistrates from sunrise to sunset, nor did the people leave the Forum.
The matrons, being in themselves unable to help, resorted to prayers and supplications, and wandering from one to another of all the temples, importuned the gods with entreaties and vows.
While the city was in a state of such anxiety and suspense, came first a vague rumour that two horsemen of Narnia, coming from the battle, had reached the camp which had been placed to guard the gateway of Umbria,2
reporting that the enemy had been cut to pieces.
And at first men had heard it, rather than taken it in, as something too great and too joyous for them to grasp and quite believe. And the promptness was in itself an obstacle to belief, in that the battle was said to have been fought but two days before.
Then came a letter sent by Lucius Manlius Acidinus from the camp in regard to the arrival of the Narnian horsemen.
This letter, carried through the [p. 409]
Forum to the tribunal of the praetor,3
senate out of the Curia. And with such rivalry and disorder did the people rush up to the doors of the Curia that the messenger could not get near, but was jostled by men asking questions and shouting that the letter should be read from the Rostra before the reading in the senate.
Finally the rioters were pushed aside and restrained by magistrates, and the joy could be successively imparted to men unable to contain it.
The letter was read in the senate first, then in the assembly; and, according to each man's temperament, some felt a delight already well founded, others would have no assurance until they should hear the emissaries or a letter from the consuls.