A letter was then read in the senate, from Quintus Minucius, the praetor, who held the province of Bruttium, that “the money had been privately carried off by night out of the treasury of Proserpine at Locri; and that there were no traces to those to whom the charge applied.”
The senate was highly incensed at finding that the practice of sacrilege continued, and that even the fate of Pleminius, an example so recent and so conspicuous both of the guilt and of the punishment, did not deter men from it.
They ordered the consul, Cneius Aurelius, to signify to the praetor in Bruttium, [p. 1353]
that “it was the pleasure of the senate, that an inquiry be made concerning the robbery of the treasury, according to the method used by Marcus Pomponius, praetor, three years before;
that the money which could be discovered should be restored, that what was not found should be made up, and that, if he thought proper, atonements should be made for the purpose of expiating the violation of the temple, in the manner formerly prescribed by the pontiffs.”
At the same time, also, prodigies were announced as having happened in many places. It was said, that in Lucania the sky had been seen in a blaze; that at Privernum, in clear weather, the sun had been of a red colour during a whole day; that at Lanuvium, in the temple of Juno Sospita, a very loud noise had been heard in the night.
Besides, monstrous births of animals were related to have occurred in many places: in the country of the Sabines, an infant was born whose sex was doubtful; and another was found, sixteen years old, of doubtful sex.
At Frusino a lamb was born with a swine's head; at Sinuessa, a pig with a human head; and in Lucania, in the land belonging to the state, a foal with five feet.
All these were considered as horrid and abominable, and as if nature were straying to strange productions. Above all, the people were particularly shocked at the hermaphrodites, which were ordered to be immediately thrown into the sea, as had been lately done with a production of the same monstrous kind, in the consulate of Caius Claudius and Marcus Livius.
Notwithstanding they ordered the decemvirs to inspect the books in regard of that prodigy; and the decemvirs, from the books, directed the same religious ceremonies which had been performed on an occasion of the same kind. They ordered, besides, a hymn to be sung through the city by thrice nine virgins, and an offering to be made to imperial Juno.
The consul, Caius Aurelius, took care that all these matters were performed according to the direction of the decemvirs. The hymn was composed by Publius Licinius Tegula, as a similar one had been, in the memory of their fathers, by Livius.