Before the praetors went into their provinces, a dispute arose between Publius Licinius, chief pontiff, and Quintus Fabius Pictor, priest of Romulus; such as had happened in the recollection of their fathers, between Lucius Metellus and Postumius Albinus.
Metellus, who was chief pontiff at the time, had detained, for the performance of the business of religion, Albinus, the consul, who was setting out with his colleague, Caius Lutatius, to the fleet at Sicily;
and now Publius Licinius detained the praetor Fabius from going to Sardinia.
The matter was agitated in stormy debates, both in the senate and before the commons: authoritative commands were issued on both sides, pledges were seized, fines imposed, the tribunes applied to, and appeals made to the people.
At last religion prevailed, so that the flamen obeyed the order of the pontiff; and the fines were remitted by order of the people.
The senate by their authority prevented the praetor when attempting to abdicate the magistracy through anger at the loss of his province, and decreed that he should dispense justice among foreigners.
The levies being finished in a few days, (for the soldiers to be enlisted were not many,) the consuls and praetors repaired to their provinces. Then a report of the transactions in Asia spread vaguely without an author;
and in a few days after, certain information, and a letter from the general, arrived at Rome; which occasioned joy, not so much from recent fear, (for they had ceased to fear him who was conquered in Aetolia,) as from former fame;
because by them commencing this war he was considered as a very formidable enemy, both on account of his own strength and because he had Hannibal to direct the business of the war.
The senate determined that no change should be made [p. 1709]
in their sending the consul into Asia, and that no diminution of his forces should take place through apprehension of a war with the Gauls.