I am well aware, that, through the same disregard of religion, owing to which the men of the present day generally believe that the gods never give portents of any future events, no prodigies are now either reported to government, or recorded in histories.
But for my part, while I am writing the transactions of ancient times, my sentiments, I know not how, become antique; and a kind of religious awe prevents me from considering events, which the men of those days, renowned for wisdom, judged deserving of the attention of the state and of public expiation, unworthy of being recorded in my history.
From Anagnia two prodigies were reported this year: that a blazing torch was seen in the air; and that a cow spoke, and was maintained at the public expense. About the same time, at Minturnae, the sky appeared as in a blaze of fire. At Reate, a shower of stones fell.
At Cumae, the image of Apollo, in the citadel, shed tears during three days and three nights. In the city of Rome, two of the keepers of the temples made strange announcements, one that in the temple of Fortune, a snake, with a mane like that of a horse, had been seen by many;
the other, that, in the temple of Fortuna Primigenia on the hill, a palm sprung up in the court, and that a shower of blood fell in the middle of the day.
Two prodigies were not attended to: one, because it happened in a place belonging to a private person; Titus Marcius Figulus having reported, that a palm sprung up in the inner court of his house; the other, because it occurred in a foreign place, Fregellae, —where, in the house of Lucius Atreus, a spear which he had bought for his son, who was a [p. 2046]
soldier, burned, as was said, for more than two hours, and notwithstanding the fire consumed none of it. The Sibylline books were consulted by the decemvirs on account of the public prodigies.
They directed that the consuls should sacrifice forty of the larger victims to the deities, whom they pointed out; that a supplication should be performed; and that all the magistrates should sacrifice victims of the larger kinds in all the temples, and the people wear garlands.
All these acts were performed according to the injunctions of the decemvirs.