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Hannibal marched in a straight course through Umbria as far as Spoletum, and after laying the country round utterly waste, he commenced an attack upon the city which was repulsed with heavy loss.  As a single colony was strong enough to defeat his unfortunate attempt he was able to form some conjecture as to the difficulties attending the capture of Rome, and consequently diverted his march into the territory [3??] of Picenum, a district which not only abounded in every kind of produce but was richly stored with property which the greedy and needy soldiers seized and plundered without restraint.  He remained in camp there for several days during which his soldiers recruited their strength after their winter campaigns and their journey across the marshes, and a battle which though ultimately successful was neither without heavy loss nor easily won.  When sufficient time for rest had been allowed to men who delighted much more in plundering and destroying than in ease and idleness, Hannibal resumed his march and devastated the districts of Praetutia and Hadria, then he treated in the same way the country of the Marsi, the Marrucini, and the Peligni and the part of Apulia which was nearest to him, including the cities of Arpi and Luceria.  Cn. Servilius had fought some insignificant actions with the Gauls and taken one small town, but when he heard of his colleague's death and the destruction of his army, he was alarmed for the walls of his native City, and marched straight for Rome that he might not be absent at this most critical juncture. Q. Fabius Maximus was now Dictator for the second time.  On the very day of his entrance upon office he summoned a meeting of the senate, and commenced by discussing matters of religion. He made it quite clear to the senators that C. Flaminius' fault lay much more in his neglect of the auspices and of his religious duties than in bad generalship and foolhardiness.  The gods themselves, he maintained, must be consulted as to the necessary measures to avert their displeasure, and he succeeded in getting a decree passed that the decemvirs should be ordered to consult the Sibylline Books, a course which is only adopted when the most alarming portents have been reported.  After inspecting the Books of Fate they informed the senate that the vow which had been made to Mars in view of that war had not been duly discharged, and that it must be discharged afresh and on a much greater scale.  The Great Games must be vowed to Jupiter, a temple to Venus Erycina and one to Mens; a lectisternium must be held and solemn intercessions made; a Sacred Spring must also be vowed. All these things must be done if the war was to be a successful one and the republic remain in the same position in which it was at the beginning of the war.  As Fabius would be wholly occupied with the necessary arrangements for the war, the senate with the full approval of the pontifical college ordered the praetor, M. Aemilius, to take care that all these orders were carried out in good time.
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