Before the consuls set out, the nine days' sacred rite was performed, as a shower of stones had fallen from the sky at Veii.
After the mention of one prodigy, others also were reported, as usual. At Minturnae, that the temple of Jupiter and the grove of Marica, and at Atella also that a wall and gate, had been struck by lightning.
The people of Minturnae added what was more alarming, that a stream of blood had flowed at their gate. At Capua, a wolf, which had entered at the gate by night, had torn a watchman.
These prodigies were expiated with victims of the larger kind, and a supplication for one day was made, according to a decree of the pontiffs. The nine days' sacred rite was then performed again, because a shower of stones had been seen to fall in the armilustrum.
After the people's minds had been freed from superstitious fears, they were again disturbed by intelligence that an infant had been born at Frusino as large as a child of four years old, and not so much an object of wonder from its size, as that it was born without any certain mark of distinction whether it was male or female, which was the case two years before at Sinuessa.
Aruspices, called in from Etruria, declared this to be indeed a foul and ill-omened prodigy, which ought to be removed out of the Roman territory, and, being kept far from coming in contact with the earth, to be plunged into the deep.
They shut it up alive in a chest, and carrying it away, threw it into the sea. The pontiffs also decreed, that thrice nine virgins should go through the city singing a hymn.
While in the temple of Jupiter Stator they were learning this hymn, which was composed by the poet Livius, the temple of Juno Regina, on the Aventine, was struck by lightning;
and the aruspices, on being consulted, having replied that that prodigy appertained to the matrons, and that the goddess must be appeased by a present, such of the matrons as dwelt within the city and within the tenth milestone from it, were summoned to the Capitol by an edict of the curule aediles;
when they themselves chose twenty-five out of their own body, to whom they paid a contribution out [p. 1143]
of their dowries, from which a golden basin was made, as a present, and carried to the Aventine, where a sacrifice was performed by the matrons in a pure and chaste manner.
Immediately a day was given out by the decemviri for another sacrifice to the same goddess, which was performed in the following order: two white heifers were led from the temple of Apollo into the city through the Carmental gate;
after these, two cypress images of Juno Regina were carried; after these went seven and twenty virgins, arrayed in white vestments, and singing in honour of Juno Regina a hymn, which to the uncultivated minds of that time might appear to have merit, but if repeated now would seem inelegant and uncouth.
The train of virgins was followed by the decemvirs, crowned with laurel, and in purple-bordered robes.
From the gate they proceeded by the Jugarian street into the forum: in the forum the procession stopped, and the virgins, linked together by a cord passed through their hands, moved on, beating time with their feet to the music of their voices.
They then proceeded by the Tuscan street and the Velabrum, through the cattle market, up the Publician hill, and to the temple of Juno Regina; where two victims were immolated by the decemviri, and the cypress images carried into the temple.