Hannibal, marching directly through Umbria, arrived at Spoletum;
thence, having completely devastated the adjoining country, and commenced an assault upon the city, having been repulsed with great loss, and conjecturing from the strength of this one colony, which had been not very successfully attacked, what was the size of the city of Rome, turned aside into the
territory of Picenum, which abounded not only with every species of grain, but was stored with booty, which his rapacious and needy troops eagerly seized.
There he continued encamped for several days, and his soldiers were refreshed, who had been enfeebled by winter marches and marshy ground, and with a battle more successful in its result than light or easy.
When sufficient time for rest had been granted for soldiers delighting more in plunder and devastation than ease and repose; setting out, he lays waste the territories of Pretutia and Hadria, then of the Marsi, the Marrucini, and the Peligni, and the contiguous region of' Apulia around Arpi and Luceria.
Cneius Servilius, the consul, having fought some slight battles with the Gauls, and taken one inconsiderable town, when he heard of the defeat of his colleague and the army, alarmed now for the walls of the capital, marched towards the city, that he might not be absent [p. 776]
at so extreme a crisis.
Quintus Fabius Maximus, a second time dictator, assembled the senate the very day he entered on his office; and commencing with what related to the gods, after he had distinctly proved to the fathers, that Caius Flaminius had erred more from neglect of the ceremonies and auspices than from temerity and want of judgment, and that the gods themselves should be consulted as to what were
the expiations of their anger, he obtained a resolution that the decemviri should be ordered to inspect the Sibylline books, which is rarely decreed, except when some horrid prodigies were announced.
Having inspected the prophetic books, they reported, that the vow which was made to Mars on account of this war, not having been regularly fulfilled, must be performed afresh and more fully;
that the great games must be vowed to Jupiter, temples to Venus Erycina and Mens; that a supplication and lectisternium must be made, and a sacred spring vowed, if the war should proceed favourably and the state continue the condition it was in before the war.
Since the management of the war would occupy Fabius, the senate orders Marcus Aemilius, the praetor, to see that all these things are done in good time, according to the directions of the college of pontiffs.