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3000 men were raised for service in Sicily, as all the troops in that province had been taken to Africa and it had been decided that Sicily should be protected by forty ships until the fleet returned from Africa. Villius took with him thirteen new ships, the rest were the old ones in Sicily which were refitted.  M. Pomponius, who had been praetor the year before, was appointed to take charge of this fleet, and placed on board the new levies he had brought from Italy.  A fleet of equal strength was assigned to Cnaeus Octavius, who also had been praetor the previous year and was now invested with similar powers for the protection of the Sardinian coast.  The praetor Lentulus was ordered to furnish 2000 men for service with the fleet.  In view of the uncertainty as to where the Carthaginian fleet would land, though they would be sure to seek some unguarded spot, M. Marcius was furnished with forty ships to watch the coast of Italy. The consuls were authorised by the senate to raise 3000 men for this fleet and also two legions to defend the City against all contingencies.  The province of Spain was left in the hands of the former commanders, L. Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus, who retained their old legions.  Altogether there were 20 legions and 160 ships of war on active service this year. The praetors were ordered to go to their respective provinces.  Before the consuls left the City they received the commands of the senate to celebrate the Great Games which the vow of the Dictator T. Manlius Torquatus required to be celebrated every five years, if the condition of the republic remained unaltered. Numerous stories of portents filled men's minds with superstitious terrors.  It was said that crows picked with their beaks some of the gold on the Capitol and actually ate it, and rats gnawed a golden crown at Antium. The whole of the country round Capua was covered by an immense flight of locusts, and no one knew whence they had come.  At Reate a foal was born with five feet; at Anagnia fiery meteors were seen in different parts of the sky and these were followed by a huge blazing torch;  at Frusino a thin bow encircled the sun, which afterwards grew to such a size that it extended beyond the bow;  at Arpinum there was a subsidence of the ground and a vast chasm was formed. Whilst one of the consuls was sacrificing, the liver of the first victim was found to be without a head.  These portents were expiated by sacrifices of full-grown animals, the college of pontiffs intimated the deities to whom they were to be offered.
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