Flaminius, one of the consuls elect, to whom the legions which were wintering at Placentia had fallen by lot, sent an edict and letter to the consul, desiring that those forces should be ready in camp at Ariminum on the ides of March.
He had a design to enter on the consulship in his province, recollecting his old contests with the fathers, which he had waged with them when tribune of the people, and afterwards when consul, first about his election to the office, which was annulled, and then about a triumph.
He was also odious to the fathers on account of a new law which Quintus Claudius, a [p. 763]
tribune of the people, had carried against the senate, Caius Flaminius alone of that body assisting him, that no senator, or he who had been father of a senator, should possess a ship fit for sea service, containing more than three hundred amphora. This size was considered sufficient for conveying the produce of their lands: all traffic appeared unbecoming a senator.
This contest, maintained with the warmest opposition, procured the hatred of the nobility to Flaminius, the advocate of the law; but the favour of the people, and afterwards a second consulship.
For these reasons, thinking that they would detain him in the city by falsifying the auspices, by the delay of the Latin festival, and other hinderances to which a consul was liable, he pretended a journey, and, while yet in a private capacity, departed secretly to his province. This proceeding, when it was made public, excited new and additional anger in the senators, who were before irritated against him.
They said, “That Caius Flaminius waged war not only with the senate, but now with the immortal gods; that having been formerly made consul without the proper auspices, he had disobeyed both gods and men recalling him from the very field of battle;
and now, through consciousness of their having been dishonoured, he had shunned the Capitol and the customary offering of vows, that he might not on the day of entering his office approach the temple of Jupiter, the best and greatest of gods;
that he might not see and consult the senate, himself hated by it, as it was hateful to him alone; that he might not proclaim the Latin festival, or perform on the Alban mount the customary rights to Jupiter Latiaris;
that he might not, under the direction of the auspices, go up to the Capitol to offer his vows, and thence, attended by the lictors, proceed to his province in the garb of a general; but that he had set off, like some camp boy, without his insignia, without the lictors, with secrecy and stealth, just as if he had been quitting his country to go into banishment;
as if forsooth he would enter on his office more consistently with the dignity of the consulate at Ariminum than Rome, and assume the robe of office in a public inn better than before his own household gods.”
— They unanimously resolved that he should be recalled and brought back, and be constrained to perform in person every duty to gods and men before he went to the army and the province.
Quintus Terentius and Marcus Antistius having [p. 764]
set out on this embassy, (for it was decreed that ambassadors should be sent,) prevailed with him in no degree more than the letter sent by the senate in his former consulship.
A few days after he entered on his office, and as he was sacrificing, a calf, after being struck, having broken away from the hands of the ministers, sprinkled several of the bystanders with its blood.
Flight and disorder ensued, to a still greater degree at a distance among those who were ignorant what was the cause of the alarm. This circumstance was regarded by most persons as an omen of great terror.
Having then received two legions from Sempronius, the consul of the former year, and two from Caius Atilius, the praetor, the army began to be led into Etruria, through the passes of the Apennines.