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Although Africa had not been officially placed among the provinces-the senators, I think, kept it secret to prevent the Carthaginians from getting information beforehand-the citizens fully expected that Africa would be the scene of hostilities this year, and that the end of the Punic War was not far off.  In this state of excitement men's minds were filled with superstition and the ready credence given to announcement of portents increased their number.  Two suns were said to have been seen; there were intervals of daylight during the night; a meteor was seen to shoot from east to west; a gate at Tarracina and at Anagnia a gate and several portions of the wall were struck by lightning; in the temple of Juno Sospita at Lanuvium a crash followed by a dreadful roar was heard. To expiate these portents special intercessions were offered for a whole day, and in consequence of a shower of stones a nine days' solemnity of prayer and sacrifice was observed.  The reception of Mater Idaea was also being anxiously discussed. M. Valerius, the member of the deputation who had come in advance, had reported that she would be in Italy almost immediately and a fresh messenger had brought word that she was already at Tarracina.  The attention of the senate was engrossed by a very difficult question; they had to decide who was the best and noblest man in the State.  Every one felt that to gain this distinction would be for him a real victory, far outweighing any official position or honourable distinction which either patricians or plebeians could confer.  Of all the great and good men in the State they adjudged the best and noblest to be P. Scipio, the son of the Cnaeus Scipio who had fallen in Spain; a young man not yet old enough to be quaestor.  What special merits of his induced the senate to come to this conclusion I should have been glad to record for posterity had the writers who lived nearest to those days handed them down.  As it is I will not obtrude my conjectures upon a matter hidden in the mists of antiquity. P. Scipio was ordered to go to Ostia, accompanied by all the matrons, to meet the goddess.  He was to receive her as she left the vessel, and when brought to land he was to place her in the hands of the matrons who were to bear her to her destination.  As soon as the ship appeared off the mouth of the Tiber he put out to sea in accordance with his instructions, received the goddess from the hands of her priestesses, and brought her to land. Here she was received by the foremost matrons of the City, amongst whom the name of Claudia Quinta stands out pre-eminently.  According to the traditional account her reputation had previously been doubtful, but this sacred function surrounded her with a halo of chastity in the eyes of posterity. The matrons, each taking their turn in bearing the sacred image, carried the goddess into the temple of Victory on the Palatine.  All the citizens flocked out to meet them, censers in which incense was burning were placed before the doors in the streets through which she was borne, and from all lips arose the prayer that she would of her own free will and favour be pleased to enter Rome.  The day on which this event took place was 12th April, and was observed as a festival; the people came in crowds to make their offerings to the deity; a lectisternium was held and Games were constituted which were known afterwards as the Megalesian.
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