About the same time Cneius Servilius, the consul, not doubting but that he should enjoy the glory of having restored Italy to a state of peace, pursued Hannibal, whom he consi- [p. 1312]
dered had fled before him, and crossed over into Sicily, with the intention of proceeding thence into Africa.
As soon as this became known at Rome, at first the fathers gave it as their opinion, that the praetor should inform the consul by letter that the senate thought it proper that he should return into Italy;
but afterwards, the praetor declaring that he would not heed his letter, Publius Sulpicius, who was created dictator for this very purpose, recalled the consul to Italy, in virtue of his superior authority.
The remainder of the year he employed in conjunction with Marcus Servilius, his master of the horse, in going round to the cities of Italy, which had been alienated from the Romans during the war, and in taking cognizance of the cases of each.
During the time of the truce, Lentulus the praetor sent over into Africa, from Sardinia, a hundred transports with stores, under a convoy of twenty ships of war, without meeting with any injury either from the enemy or storms.
The same good fortune did not attend Cneius Octavius, while crossing over from Sicily with two hundred transports and thirty men of war.
Having experienced a prosperous voyage until he arrived almost within sight of Africa, at first the wind dropped, but afterwards changing to the south-west, it dispersed his ships in every direction. He himself with the ships of war, having struggled through the opposing billows by the extraordinary exertions of his rowers, made the promontory of Apollo.
The greater part of the transports were driven to Aegimurus, an island filling the mouth of the bay on which Carthage stands, and about thirty miles from the city;
the rest were driven on shore directly opposite the city, near the warm baths. The whole occurrence was within sight of Carthage, and, accordingly, the people ran in crowds to the forum, from every part of the city.
The magistrates summoned the senate, and the people were yelling in the vestibule of the senate-house, lest so great a booty should escape from their hands and their sight.
Though some urged as an objection the obligation imposed upon them by having solicited peace, and others the restraint occasioned by the existence of a truce, the period of which had not yet expired, it was agreed in an assembly, made up almost of a mixture of the senate and people, that Hasdrubal should cross over to Aegimurus with fifty ships, and, proceeding thence, pick up the Roman ships scattered [p. 1313]
along the coasts and in the different ports.
First the transports from Aegimurus, and then those from the baths, abandoned by the crews, were towed to Carthage.