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After losing many men and beasts under these frightful .circumstances, he at last got clear of the marshes, and as soon as he could find some dry ground he pitched his camp. The scouting parties he had sent out reported that the Roman army was lying in the neighbourhood of Arretium.  His next step was to investigate as carefully as he possibly could all that it was material for him to know-what mood the consul was in, what designs he was forming, what the character of the country and the kind of roads it possessed, and what resources it offered for the obtaining of supplies.  The district was amongst the most fertile in Italy; the plains of Etruria, which extend from Faesulae to Arretium, are rich in corn and live stock and every kind of produce.  The consul's overbearing temper, which had grown steadily worse since his last consulship, made him lose all proper respect and reverence even for the gods, to say nothing of the majesty of the senate and the laws, and this self-willed and obstinate side of his character had been aggravated by the successes he had achieved both at home and in the field. It was perfectly obvious that he would not seek counsel from either God or man, and whatever he did would be done in an impetuous and headstrong manner.  By way of making him show these faults of character still more flagrantly, the Carthaginian prepared to irritate and annoy him.  He left the Roman camp on his left, and marched in the direction of Faesulae to plunder the central districts of Etruria. Within actual view of the consul he created as widespread a devastation as he possibly could, and from the Roman camp they saw in the distance an extensive scene of fire and .massacre.  Flaminius had no intention of keeping quiet even if the enemy had done so, but now that he saw the possessions of the allies of Rome plundered and pillaged almost before his very eyes, he felt it to be a personal disgrace that an enemy should be roaming at will through Italy and advancing to attack Rome with none to hinder him.  All the other members of the council of war were in favour of a policy of safety rather than of display; they urged him to wait for his colleague, that they might unite their forces and act with one mind on a [9??] common plan, and pending his arrival they should check the wild excesses of the plundering enemy with cavalry and the light-armed auxiliaries.  Enraged at these suggestions he dashed out of the council and ordered the trumpets to give the signal for march and battle; exclaiming at the same time: "We are to sit, I suppose, before the walls of Arretium, because our country and our household gods are here. Now that Hannibal has slipped through our hands, he is to ravage Italy, destroy and burn everything in his way till he reaches Rome, while we are not to stir from here until the senate summons C. Flaminius from Arretium as they once summoned Camillus from Veii." During this outburst, he ordered the standards to be pulled up with all speed and at the same time mounted his horse.  No sooner had he done so than the animal stumbled and fell and threw him over its head All those who were standing round were appalled by what they took to be [12??] an evil omen at the beginning of a campaign, and their alarm was considerably increased by a message brought to the consul that the standard could not be moved though the standard-bearer had exerted his utmost strength.  He turned to the messenger and asked him: "Are you bringing a despatch from the senate, also, forbidding me to go on with the campaign? Go, let them dig out the standard if their hands are too benumbed with fear for them to pull it up." Then the column began its march.  The superior officers, besides being absolutely opposed to his plans, were thoroughly alarmed by the double portent, but the great body of the soldiers were delighted at the spirit their general had shown; they shared his confidence without knowing on what slender grounds it rested.
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