However, the first introduction of plays, intended as a religious expiation, neither relieved their minds from religious awe, nor their bodies from disease.
Nay more, when the circus being inundated by the overflowing of the Tiber happened to interrupt the middle of the performance, that indeed, as if the gods were now turned from them, and despised their efforts to soothe their wrath, excited great terror.
Accordingly, Cneius Genucius and Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus being a second time consuls, when the searching for expiations harassed their minds, more than the diseases did their bodies, it is said to have been collected from the memory of the more aged, that a pestilence had formerly been relieved, on the nail being driven by a dictator.
Induced by this superstitious circumstance, the senate ordered a dictator to be appointed for the purpose of driving the nail. Lucius Manlius Imperiosus being appointed, named Lucius Pinarius master of the horse.
There is an ancient law written in antique letters and words, that whoever is supreme officer should drive a nail on the ides of September. It was driven into the right side of the temple of Jupiter supremely good and great, on that part where the temple of Minerva is.
They say that the nail was a mark of the number of years elapsed, because letters were rare in those times, and that the law was referred to the temple of Minerva, because number is the invention of that goddess.
Cincius, a careful writer on such monuments, asserts that there were seen at Volsinii also nails fixed in the temple of Nortia, a Tuscan goddess, as indices of the number of years.
Marcus Horatius, being consul, according to law dedicated the temple of Jupiter the best and greatest the year after the expulsion of kings; the solemnity of fixing the nail was afterwards transferred from the consuls to the dictators, because theirs was a superior office. The custom being afterwards dropped, it seemed a matter of sufficient importance in itself, on account of which a dictator should be appointed.
For which reason Lucius Manlius being appoint- [p. 451]
ed, just as if he had been appointed for the purpose of managing the business of the state in general, and not to acquit it of a religious obligation, being ambitious to manage the Hernician war, harassed the youth by a severe levy, and at length, all the plebeian tribunes having risen up against him, whether overcome by force or shame, he resigned the dictatorship.