In Gaul the consul Sextus Aelius accomplished nothing worth remark.1
Although he had two armies in the province, one which he had retained in service, though he should have discharged it,2
of which Lucius Cornelius the proconsul had been in command —he himself now placed Gaius Helvius the praetor in command of it —and
one which he had brought into the province, he spent almost the whole year in compelling the people of Cremona and Placentia to return to the
colonies whence they had been driven by the mishaps of war.
As Gaul was unexpectedly quiet that year, around Rome, on the other hand, there was almost a slave insurrection.
The Carthaginian hostages were confined at Setia. With them, since they were sons of prominent men, was a large number of slaves.
Their number was increased, as was natural after the recent African war, by numerous prisoners of war of that nation, bought up out of the booty by the people of Setia themselves.
When these slaves had formed a conspiracy and had sent messengers from their company to stir up the slaves, first in the Setine territory, then around Norba and Cerceii, complete preparations having now been made, they had agreed to attack the crowd while occupied with the spectacle at the games which were soon to be held at Setia; the slaves captured Setia in the slaughter and confusion, but failed to take Norba and Cerceii.
News of this dreadful occurrence was transmitted to3
Rome, to Lucius Cornelius Lentulus4
the urban praetor.
Two slaves came to him before dawn and related in detail what had happened and what was likely to occur.
Ordering them to be kept under guard at his home, the praetor summoned the senate and laid before them what the informants had told him, and on receiving orders to investigate and suppress this conspiracy, set out with five
lieutenants, administered the oath to those he met in the fields, and compelled them to take arms and follow him.
With this hastily-raised force of about two thousand armed men, he reached Setia before anyone knew where he was going.
There, when the ringleaders in the plot had been summarily arrested, there was an exodus of slaves from the town. Cornelius sent troops through the country to pursue the fugitives, and himself returned to Rome.5
Conspicuous service had been rendered by the two slaves who had given information, and by the one free man. To him the senate ordered given a reward of one hundred thousand asses;
to the slaves, twenty-five thousand asses
each, and their freedom; compensation for them from the treasury was paid to their owners.
Shortly after this, word was received that the slaves, some of the remnants of the same conspiracy, were about to occupy Praeneste.6
Lucius Cornelius the praetor went there and executed about five hundred who were implicated in the crime. The state feared that the Carthaginian hostages and prisoners had contrived the plot.
So at Rome watchmen patrolled the streets, the minor magistrates were ordered to make [p. 237]
inspections, and the three officials in charge of the7
to increase their vigilance, and the praetor sent letters around to the Latin
confederacy, that the hostages kept should be in private custody, with no opportunity to come out into public places, the prisoners loaded with chains of not less than ten pounds' weight, and guarded only in a public prison.9