After the Sicilians and Campanians were dismissed, a levy was made; and after the troops had been enlisted for the army, they then began to consider about making up the number of rowers;
but as there was neither a sufficient supply of men for that purpose, nor any money at that time in the treasury by which
they might be purchased or paid, the consuls issued an edict, that private persons should furnish rowers in proportion to their income and rank, as had been done before, with pay and provisions for thirty days.
So great was the murmuring and indignation of the people, on account of this edict, that a leader, rather than matter, was wanting for an insurrection.
It was said, that “the consuls, after having ruined the Sicilians and Campanians, had undertaken to destroy and lacerate the Roman commons; that, drained as they had been for so many years by taxes, they had nothing left but wasted and naked lands. That the enemy had burned their houses, and the state had taken away their slaves, who were the cultivators of their lands, at one time by purchasing them at a low rate for soldiers, at another by commanding a supply of rowers.
If any one had any silver or brass it was taken away from him, for the payment of rowers or for annual taxes. That no force could compel and no command oblige them to give what they had not got. That they might sell their goods and then vent their cruelty on their persons, which were all that remained to them.
That they had nothing even left from which they could be redeemed.” These complaints were uttered not in secret, but publicly in the forum, [p. 1065]
and before the eyes of the consuls themselves, by an immense crowd which surrounded them;
nor could the consuls appease them now by coercing nor by soothing them.
Upon this they said that three days should be allowed them to consider of the matter; which interval the consuls employed in examining and planning. The following day they assembled the senate to consider of raising a supply of rowers; and after arguing at great length that the people's refusal was fair, they brought their discourse to this point, that whether it were just or unjust, this burden must be borne by private individuals.
For from what source could they procure rowers, when there was no money in the treasury? and how, without fleets, could Sicily be kept in subjection, or Philip be prevented from entering Italy, or the shores of Italy be protected?