Marcus Valerius, the consul, having been summoned by letter, gave the command of the province and his army to Cincius the praetor, sent Marcus Valerius Messala, commander of the fleet, with half of the ships to Africa, at the same time to plunder the country and observe what
the Carthaginians were doing, and what preparations they were making, and then set out himself with ten ships for Rome; where, having arrived in safety, he immediately convened the senate.
Here he made a recital of his services. That “after hostilities had been carried on, and severe losses often sustained, both by sea and land, through a period of almost sixty years, he had completely terminated the business of the province.
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there was not one Carthaginian in Sicily, nor one Sicilian absent of those who through fear had been compelled to go into exile and live abroad;
that all of them were brought back to their cities and fields, and were employed in ploughing and sowing;
that the land which was deserted was now again inhabited, not only yielding its fruits to its cultivators, but forming a most certain resource for the supply of provisions to the Roman people in peace and war.”
After this, Mutines and such others as had rendered any services to the Roman people were introduced into the senate, and all received honorary rewards in fulfilment of the consul's engagement.
Mutines was also made a Roman citizen, a proposition to that effect having been made to the commons by a plebeian tribune, on the authority of the senate. While these things were going on at Rome, Marcus Valerius Messala, arriving on the coast of Africa before daylight, made a sudden descent on the territory of Utica;
and after ravaging it to a great extent, and taking many prisoners, together with booty of every kind, he returned to his ships and sailed over to Sicily. He returned to Lilybaeum on the thirteenth day from the time he left it.
From the prisoners, on examination, the following facts were discovered, and all communicated in writing to the consul Laevinus in order, so that he might know in what state the affairs of Africa were.
That "five thousand Numidians, with Masinissa, the son of Gala, a youth of extraordinary spirit, were at Carthage, and that other troops were hiring throughout all Africa, to be passed over into Spain to Hasdrubal; in order that he might, as soon as possible, pass over into Italy, with as large a force as could be collected, and form a junction with Hannibal. That the Carthaginians considered their success dependent on this measure.
That a very large fleet
was also in preparation for the recovery of Sicily, which they believed would sail thither in a short time.
The recital of these facts had such an effect upon the senate, that they resolved that the consul ought not to wait for the election, but that a dictator should be appointed to hold it, and that the consul should immediately return to his province.
A difference of opinion delayed this, for the consul declared that he should nominate as dictator Marcus Valerius Messala, who then commanded the fleet in Sicily; but the fathers denied that a person could be appointed dictator who was not in the Roman territory, and this was limited by Italy.
Marcus [p. 1096]
Lucretius, a plebeian tribune, having taken the sense of the senate upon the question, it was decreed, “that the consul, before he quitted the city, should put the question to the people, as to whom they wished to be appointed dictator, and that he should nominate whomsoever they directed. If the consul were unwilling that the praetor should put the question, and if even he were unwilling to do it, that then the tribunes should make the proposition to the commons.”
The consul refusing to submit to the people what lay in his own power, and forbidding the praetor to do so, the plebeian tribunes put the question, and the commons ordered that Quintus Fulvius, who was then at Capua, should be nominated dictator.
But on the night preceding the day on which the assembly of the people was to be held for that purpose, the consul went off privately into Sicily; and the fathers, thus deserted, decreed that a letter should be sent to Marcus Claudius, in order that he might come to the support of the state, which had been abandoned by his colleague, and appoint him dictator whom the commons had ordered.
Thus Quintus Fulvius was appointed dictator by Marcus Claudius, the consul, and in conformity with the same order of the people, Publius Licinius Crassus, chief pontiff, was appointed master of the horse by Quintus Fulvius, the dictator.