On the approach of Caius Claudius, the enemy, reflecting that this was the same commander who had defeated them at the river Scultenna, resolving to rely on situation, rather than arms, for their defence against a force with which they had so unsuccessfully struggled, took post in two mountains, called Letum and Balista; and, for greater security, surrounded their encampment with a wall. Some, who were too slow in removing from the low grounds, were surprised and put to the sword, —one thousand five hundred in number.
The others kept themselves close on the mountains; and retaining, in the midst of their fears, their native savage disposition, vented their fury on the prey taken at Mutina.
They put their prisoners to death after shocking mutilation: the cattle they butchered in the temples, rather than decently sacrificed: and then (satiated with the destruction of living creatures) they turned their fury against things inanimate, dashing against the walls even vessels made for use rather than for show. Quintus Petillius, the consul, fearing that the war might be brought to a conclusion before he arrived in the province, wrote to Caius Claudius to bring the army into Gaul, saying, that he would wait for him at the Long Plains. Claudius, immediately on receipt of the letter, marched out of Liguria, and gave up the command of the army to the consul at the Long Plains.
To the same place came, in a few days after, the other consul, Caius Valerius. There having divided their forces before they separated, they both together performed a purification of the troops. They then cast lots for their respective routes, it having been resolved that they should not assail the enemy on the same side.
It was certain that Valerius cast his lot auspiciously, because he was in the consecrated ground; the augurs afterwards announced that there was this defect in the case of Petillius, that he himself when outside the consecrated ground cast his lot into the urn, which was subsequently brought into the sacred place. They then began their march in different directions; Petillius pitched his camp against the ridge of Balista and Letum, which joined the two together with one continued range.
They report, that while he was here encouraging his soldiers, whom he had assembled [p. 1939]
for the purpose, without reflecting on the ambiguity of the word, he uttered this ominous expression: “This day I will have Letum.”1
He made his troops march up the mountain in two places at the same time.
The division in which he was advanced briskly: the other was repulsed by the enemy; and the consul riding up thither, to remedy the disorder, rallied his troops; but whilst he moves about too carelessly in the front, he was pierced through with a javelin, and fell. The commanders of the enemy did not know that he was killed; and the few of his own party who saw the disaster, carefully covered the body from view, knowing that the victory rested on this.
The rest of the troops, horse and foot, though deprived of their leader, dislodged the enemy, and took possession of the mountains. Five thousand of the Ligurians were slain, and of the Roman army only fifty-two were lost. Besides this evident completion of the unhappy omen, the keeper of the chickens was heard to say, that there had been a defect in the auspices, and that the consul was not ignorant of it.
Caius Valerius, when he was informed of the death of Quintus Petillius, made the army, thus bereft of its commander, join his own; then, attacking the enemy again, in their blood he offered a noble sacrifice to the shade of his departed col- league. He had the honour of a triumph over the Ligurians. The legion, at whose head the consul was killed, was severely punished by the senate.
They determined that the campaign of this year should not be counted to the entire legion, and that their pay should be stopped, for not exposing themselves to the enemy's weapons in defence of their commander. About this time ambassadors came to Rome from the Dar- danians, who were greatly distressed by the numerous army of Bastarnians, under Clondicus, mentioned above.
These ambassadors, after describing the vast multitude of the Bastarnians, their tall and huge bodies, and their daring intrepidity in facing danger, added, that there was an al- liance between them and Perseus, and that the Dardanians were really more afraid of him than even of the Bastarnians: and therefore begged of the senate that assistance should be sent them. The senate thereupon agreed, that ambassadors should be sent to examine into the affairs of Macedonia; and immediately a commission was given to Aulus Postu- [p. 1940]mius to go thither. They gave to him as colleagues some young men, that he might have the principal direction and management of the embassy.
The senate then took into consideration the election of magistrates for the ensuing year, on which subject there was a long debate; for
people skilled in the rules of religion and politics affirmed, that, as the regular consuls of the year had died, one by the sword, the other by sickness, the substituted consuls could not with propriety hold the elections. An interregnum, therefore, took place, and the interrex elected consuls Publius Mucius Scaevola, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, a second time.
Then Caius Popillius Laenas, Titus Annius Luscus, Caius Memmius Gallus, Caius Cluvius Saxula, Servius Cor- nelius Sulla, and Appius Claudius Centho, were chosen praetors. The provinces assigned to the consuls were Gaul and Liquria. Of the praetors, Cornelius Sulla obtained Sardinia, Claudius Centho gained Hither Spain. There is no record of those to whom the other praetorian provinces fell. This year was notorious for an epidemic, which how- ever attacked cattle only.
The Ligurians, a nation ever vanquished, yet ever rebelling, ravaged the lands of Luna and Pisae; and at the same time there were alarming ru- mours of disturbances in Gaul. Lepidus having easily quelled the commotions among the Gauls, then marched into Liguria.
Several states of this country submitted themselves to his disposal; and he, supposing that they were rendered savage by the rugged mountain tops which they inhabited, as the dispositions of the inhabitants of a country generally resemble its natural features, by the precedent of some former consuls, brought them
down to the plains. Of these the Garulians, Lapicinians, and Hercatians had lived on the other side of the Apennine, and the Briniatians on the farther side.