When all had signified their approbation of this opinion, and after the crowd had been removed by the magistrates from the forum, and the senators had proceeded in different directions to allay the tumult;
then at length a letter is brought from the consul Terentius, stating, “That Lucius Aemilius, the consul, and his army were slain; that he himself was at Canusium, collecting, as it were after a shipwreck, the remains of this great disaster; that he had nearly ten thousand irregular and unorganized troops.
That the Carthaginian was sitting still at Cannae, bargaining about the price of the captives and the other booty, neither with the spirit of a conqueror nor in the style of a great general.”
Then also the losses of private families were made known throughout the several houses; and so completely was the whole city filled with grief, that the anniversary sacred rite of Ceres was intermitted, because it was neither allowable to perform it while in mourning, nor was there at that juncture a single matron who was not in mourning.
Accordingly, lest the same cause should occasion the neglect of other public and private sacred rites, the mourning was limited to thirty days, by a decree of the senate.
Now when the tumult in the city was allayed, an additional letter was brought from Sicily, from Titus Otacilius, the proprietor, stating, “that the kingdom of Hiero was being devastated by the Carthaginian fleet:
and that, being desirous of affording him the assistance he implored, he received intelligence that another Carthaginian fleet was stationed at the Aegates, equipped and prepared; in order that when the Carthaginians had perceived that he was gone away to protect the coast of Syracuse, they might im- [p. 826]
mediately attack Lilybaeum and other parts of the Roman province;
that he therefore needed a fleet, if they wished him to protect the king their ally, and Sicily.”