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While these operations in Spain and Africa were going on, Hannibal spent the whole summer in the Sallentine territory in the hope of securing the city of Tarentum by treachery, and whilst he was there some unimportant towns seceded to him.  Out of the twelve communities in Bruttium who had gone over to the Carthaginians the year before, two, namely Consentia and Thurii, returned to their old allegiance to Rome, and more would have done so had it not been for T. Pomponius Veientanus, an officer of allies.  He had made several successful raids in Bruttium and had in consequence began to be regarded as a regularly commissioned general. With the raw and undisciplined army which he had got together he engaged Hanno.  In that battle a great number of men, who were simply a confused crowd of peasants and slaves, were killed or made prisoners; the least important loss was that of the officer himself, who was made prisoner. For not only was he responsible for such a reckless and ill-advised battle, but in his capacity as a public contractor he had previously been guilty of all sorts of dishonest practices and robbed both the State and the City guilds.  The consul Sempronius fought several trifling actions in Lucania, none of which are worth recording, and took some unimportant towns belonging to the Lucanians.  The longer the war continued, and the more men's minds as well as their fortunes were affected by the alternations of success and failure, so much the more did the citizens become the victims of superstitions, and those for the most part foreign ones. It seemed as though either the characters of men or the nature of the gods had undergone a sudden change.  The Roman ritual was growing into disuse not only in secret and in private houses; even in public places, in the Forum and the Capitol, crowds of women were to be seen who were offering neither sacrifices nor prayers in accordance with ancient usage.  Unauthorised sacrificers and diviners had got possession of men's minds and the numbers of their dupes were swelled by the crowds of country people whom poverty or fear had driven into the City, and whose fields had lain untilled owing to the length of the war or had been desolated by the enemy.  These impostors found their profit in trading upon the ignorance of others, and they practiced their calling with as much effrontery as if they had been duly authorised by the State.  Respectable citizens protested in private against the state of things, and ultimately the matter became a public scandal and formal complaint was made to the senate. The aediles and commissioners of police were severely reprimanded by the senate for not preventing these abuses, but when they attempted to remove the crowds from the Forum and destroy the altars and other preparations for their rites they narrowly escaped being roughly handled.  As the mischief appeared to be too much for the inferior magistrates to deal with, M. Aemilius, the City praetor, was entrusted with the task of delivering the people from these superstitions.  He read the resolution of the senate before the Assembly and gave notice that all those who had in their possession any manuals of divination or forms of prayers or sacrificial ritual in writing were to bring all their books and writings to him before the first of April, and no one was to use any strange or foreign form of sacrifice in any public or consecrated place.
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