THE transactions of the Romans, from the building of the city of Rome to the capture of the same city, first under kings, then under consuls, and dictators, and decemvirs, and consular tribunes, their wars abroad, their dissensions at home, I have exhibited in five books:
matters obscure, as well by reason of their very great antiquity, like objects which from their great distance are scarcely perceptible, as also because in those times the use of letters, the only faithful guardian of the memory of events, was inconsiderable and rare: and, moreover, whatever was contained in the commentaries of the pontiffs, and other public and private records, were lost for the most part in the burning of the city.
Henceforwards, from the second origin of the city, which sprung up again more healthfully and vigorously, as if from its root, its achievements at home and abroad, shall be narrated with more clearness and authenticity.
But it now stood erect, leaning chiefly on the same support, Marcus Furius, by which it had bean first raised; nor did they suffer him to lay down the dictatorship until the end of the year.
It was not agreeable to them, that [p. 392]
the tribunes during whose time of office the city had been taken, should preside at the elections for the following year: the administration came to an interregnum.
Whilst the state was kept occupied in the employment and constant labour of repairing the city, in the mean time a day of trial was named by Caius Marcius, tribune of the people, for Quintus Fabius, as soon as he went out of office, because whilst an ambassador he had, contrary to the law of nations, appeared
in arms against the Gauls, to whom he had been sent as a negotiator: from which trial death removed him so opportunely that most people thought it voluntary.
The interregnum commenced. Publius Cornelius Scipio was interrex, and after him Marcus Furius Camillus. He nominates as military tribunes with consular power, Lucius Valerius Publicola a second time, Lucius Virginius, Publius Cornelius, Aulus Manlius, Lucius Aemilius, Lucius Postumius.
These having entered on their office immediately after the interregnum, consulted the senate on no other business previous to that which related to religion. In the first place they ordered that the treaties and laws which could be found, should be collected; (these consisted of the twelve tables, and some laws made under the kings.)
Some of them were publicly promulgated; but such as appertained to religious matters were kept secret chiefly by the pontiffs, that they might hold the minds of the people fettered by them.
Then they began to turn their attention to the subject of desecrated days; and the day before the fifteenth day of the calends of August, remarkable for a double disaster, (as being the day on which the Fabii were slain at Cremera, and afterwards the disgraceful battle attended with the ruin of the city had been fought at Allia,) they called the Allian day from the latter disaster, and they rendered it remarkable for transacting no business whether public or private.
Some persons think, that because Sulpicius, the military tribune, had not duly offered sacrifice on the day after the ides of July, and because, without having obtained the favour of the gods, the Roman army had been exposed to the enemy on the third day after, an order was also made to abstain from all religious undertakings on the day following the ides: thence the same religious observance was derived with respect to the days following the calends and the nones.