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When he had finished speaking they prostrated themselves at the knees of Marcellus. He told them that he had not the authority or the power to grant their request, but said that he would write to the senate and would be guided entirely by their decision.  The despatch was delivered into the hands of the new consuls and read by them to the senate.  After discussing its contents, the senate decided that they saw no reason why the safety of the republic should be entrusted to soldiers who had deserted their comrades at Cannae. If M. Claudius, the propraetor, thought otherwise, he was to act as he thought best [4??] in the interests of the State, but only on this condition, that none of them should get their discharge or receive any reward for valour or be conveyed back to Italy as long as the enemy remained on Italian soil. After this an election was held by the City praetor, in accordance with a decision of the senate and a resolution of the plebs, for the appointment of special commissioners of works.  Five commissioners were chosen to undertake the repair of the walls and towers of the City, and two boards, each consisting of three members, were selected; one to inspect the contents of the temples and to make an inventory of the offerings;  the other to rebuild the temples of Fortune and Mater Matuta inside the Porta Carmentalis and the temple of Spes outside, all of which had been destroyed by fire the previous year.  Frightful storms occurred: on the Alban Mount it rained stones incessantly for two days. Many places were struck by lightning, two buildings in the Capitol, the rampart of the camp above Suessula in many places, two sentinels being killed.  The wall and some of the towers at Cumae were not only struck, but even thrown down by the lightning. At Reate a huge rock was seen to fly about, and the sun was unusually red, in fact the colour of blood.  By reason of these portents a day was set apart for special intercessions, and for several days the consuls devoted their attention to religious matters, and special services were held for nine days.  The betrayal of Tarentum had long been an object of hope with Hannibal and of suspicion with the Romans, and now an incident which occurred outside its walls hastened its capture. Phileas had been a long time in Rome, ostensibly as the Tarentine envoy.  He was a restless character and chafed under the inaction in which he seemed likely to spend the greater part of his life. The hostages from Tarentum and Thurii were kept in the Hall of Liberty, but not under strict surveillance, because it was neither for their own interest nor for that of their city to play the Romans false.  Phileas found means of access to them and had frequent interviews, in which he won them over to his design, and by bribing two of the watchmen he brought them [13??] out of confinement as soon as it was dark, and they made their secret escape from Rome. As soon as it was light their flight became known throughout the City, and a party was sent in pursuit.  They were caught at Tarracina and brought back; then they were marched into the Comitium and, with the approval of the people, scourged with rods and thrown from the Rock.
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