the Sicilians and Campanians having been sent away, a levy was held.
then, once an army had been enrolled, they began to take up the question of recruiting more oarsmen. for this purpose, inasmuch as there was neither a sufficient supply of men, nor any money at that time in the treasury out of which
they might be procured and receive their pay, the consuls in an edict ordered that private citizens according to their census and classes, as before,1
should furnish oarsmen, with pay and rations for thirty days.
in response to that edict there was such protest among the people, such indignation, that what was lacking for an uprising was a leader rather than fuel.
next after the Sicilians and Campanians the consuls, they said, had taken upon themselves the task of ruining and destroying the Roman populace. exhausted by tribute for so many years, they had nothing left [p. 135]
but the land, bare and desolate. their houses had2
been burned by the enemy, the slaves who tilled the soil had been taken away by the state, now by purchase at a low price for military service, now by impressing them as oarsmen.
if a man had any money in silver or bronze, it had been taken away for the pay of oarsmen and the yearly taxes.3
as for themselves, they could not be compelled by any force, by any authority, to give what they did not have. let their property be sold, let their bodies —all that remained —be harshly treated; not even for the purposes of a ransom was anything left to them.
such were the complaints of a great multitude, not in secret, but openly in the Forum and even before the eyes of the consuls, as they flocked about them.
and the consuls, now upbraiding, now consoling, were unable to quiet them. thereupon they said that they gave the people three days for reflection, a time which they themselves employed in looking into the matter and seeking a solution.
the following day they held a session of the senate on the recruiting of more oarsmen. there, after setting forth many reasons why refusal on the part of the populace was fair, they so far altered their language as to say that the burden, whether fair or unfair, must be laid upon private citizens.
for from what source were they to get crews, when there was no money in the treasury? and without fleets how could either Sicily be held, or Philip kept away from Italy, or the coasts of Italy be safe?