While the senate was employed in these affairs, Caius Cornelius, being called by a beadle, went out of the senate-house; and, after a short time, returned with a troubled countenance, and told the conscript fathers that the liver of a fat ox, which he had sacrificed, had melted away;
that, when this was told him by the person who dressed the victims, he did not believe it, and he himself ordered the water to be poured out of the vessel in which the entrails were boiled; and he saw all entire but the liver, which had been unaccountably consumed.
While the fathers were under much terror on account of this prodigy, their alarm was augmented by [p. 1935]
the other consul, who informed them that, on account of the first victim having wanted the head of the liver, he had sacrificed three oxen, and had not yet found favourable omens.
The senate ordered him to continue sacrificing the larger victims until he should find favourable omens. They say that the victims offered to the other deities at length presented good omens; but that in those offered to Health, Petillius could find none such.
Then the consuls and praetors cast lots for their provinces, when Pisae fell to Cneius Cornelius; Liguria, to Petillius. Of the praetors, Lucius Papirius Maso obtained the city jurisdiction; Marcus Abutius, the foreign; Marcus Cornelius Scipio Maluginensis, the Farther Spain; Lucius Aquilius Gallus, Sicily.
Two of them petitioned to be excused from going into their provinces. First, Marcus Popillius requested that he might not be obliged to go to Sardinia, alleging that “Gracchus was bringing that province into a state of tranquillity;
that Titus Aebutius the praetor had been given to him by the senate as his assistant; and that it was by no means expedient to interrupt the train of business, for the completion of which there was no method so efficacious as the continuing the management in the same hands;
that, amid the transfer of command and initiation of the successors, who must be impressed with a knowledge of
circumstances before they can proceed to action, opportunities of successfully transacting matters were frequently lost.” The excuse of Popillius was admitted. Then Publius Licinius Crassus alleged that he was prevented from going into his province by solemn sacrifices.
That which had fallen to his lot was Hither Spain. But he was ordered either to proceed thither, or to swear in the public assembly that he was hindered by the performance of solemn anniversary sacrifices. When this determination was made in the case of Publius Licinius, Marcus Cornelius demanded that his oath, of the like import, might be admitted as an excuse for his not going into the Farther Spain.
Both the praetors accordingly took an oath in the same words. Marcus Titinius and Titus Fonteius, proconsuls, were ordered to remain in Spain, with authority as before; and it was decreed that a reinforcement should be sent to them of three thousand Roman foot, with two hundred horse; and five hundred Latin foot, with three hundred horse. [p. 1936]