When this news came, the senate voted that1
Gaius Aurelius the consul should order that the army, for which he had
designated a date on which to assemble in Etruria, should come together the same day at Ariminum, and that either Aurelius himself, if the interests of the state permitted, should set out to suppress the Gallic revolt, or else he should notify
the praetor that when the legions from Etruria joined him he should send in their stead five thousand of the allies, to serve as a temporary garrison for Etruria, and that he himself should march to raise the siege of the colony.
The senate also voted that ambassadors be sent to Africa on a mission to Carthage and likewise to Masinissa in Numidia.2
Their message to the Carthaginians was that their fellow-citizen Hamilcar, left in Gaul —it was not certainly known whether he was from Hasdrubal's earlier army or the later expedition of Mago3
making war contrary to the treaty and had raised armies of Gauls and Ligures against the Roman people; if they wanted peace they should recall him and surrender him to the Roman people.
At the same time they were ordered to give notice that the Roman deserters had not all been restored to them, but that, according to report, many of them were openly living at Carthage; these were to be sought out and arrested, for return to Rome according to the treaty. Such was their mission to Carthage.
As to Masinissa, they were ordered to congratulate him because he had not only recovered his ancestral possessions but had also [p. 35]
enlarged them by the addition of the most prosperous4
part of the territory of Syphax.5
They were also to say that war with King Philip had been begun, because he had sent aid to Carthage;
because he had, by attacking the allies of the Roman people when Italy was being consumed by the flames of war, compelled the dispatch of fleets and armies to Greece, and, by dividing their forces, had been a chief cause of postponing the invasion of Africa. They were to ask that Masinissa send assistance in the form of Numidian cavalry.
Ample gifts —vases of gold and silver, a purple toga, a tunic adorned with palms, an ivory sceptre, a robe of state and a curule chair —were given them to be presented to the king.
The ambassadors were directed to promise him that if he pointed out anything he needed to strengthen and enlarge his kingdom, the Roman people would make every effort to secure it for him, in recognition of his services to them.
At this time ambassadors to the senate came also from Vermina, the son of Syphax, who sought to make excuses for his mistakes, which were due to his youth, and placing all the blame for them on the bad faith of the Carthaginians:
Masinissa, they said, had become a friend to the Roman people after having been their enemy; so Vermina too would strive earnestly not to be outdone by Masinissa or anyone else in services to the Roman people; they asked that he be named king and ally and friend by the senate.
The senators replied to the ambassadors that his father Syphax, once an ally and friend, had suddenly and without cause become an enemy of the Roman people; that Vermina himself had spent the beginnings of his youth in harassing the Romans in war.
Therefore he should seek peace from the [p. 37]
Roman people before asking for recognition as king6
and ally and friend, the honour of which titles the Roman people usually conferred in return for conspicuous services towards themselves on the part of kings.
Roman ambassadors, they said, would soon be in Africa, whom the senate would instruct to offer terms of peace to Vermina, who was to leave full discretion thereon to the Roman people; if he wished anything added to, taken from, or modified in, these terms, he should make a new request to the senate. The ambassadors sent to Africa with these instructions were Gaius Terentius Varro, Spurius Lucretius and Gnaeus Octavius.
One quinquereme was assigned to each.