ALTHOUGH Quintus Fabius, Lucius Lentulus, and Quintus Metellus, who were sent with the news of the victory, made all possible haste to Rome, yet they found rejoicings for that event anticipated there.
The fourth day after the battle with Perseus, while games were exhibiting in the circus, a faint rumour spread itself suddenly among the people through [p. 2116]
all the seats, “that a battle had been fought in Macedon, and that the king was entirely defeated.” The rumour gathered strength, until at last arose shouting and clapping of hands, as if certain tidings of victory were brought to them.
The magistrates were surprised, and caused inquiry to be made for the originator of this sudden rejoicing;
but as none was found, the joy of course vanished, since the matter was uncertain; yet the prestige of conquest still remained impressed on their minds;
and when, on the arrival of Fabius, Lentulus, and Metellus, the fact was established by authentic information, they rejoiced on a twofold account, —on that of the victory, and their happy presage of it.
This exultation in the circus is related in another manner, with equal appearance of probability: that on the fifteenth day before the calends of October, being the second day of the Roman games, as the consul Licinius was going down to give the signal for the race, a courier, who said he came from Macedon, delivered to him a letter decorated with laurel.
As soon as he had started the chariots, he mounted his own, and as he rode back through the circus to the seats of the magistrates, showed to the people the embellished tablets, at the sight of which the multitude, regardless of the games, ran down at once into the middle of the area.
The consul held a meeting of the senate on the spot; and after reading the letter to them, by their direction told the people, before the seats of the magistrates, that “his colleague, Lucius Aemilius, had fought a general engagement with Perseus; that the Macedonian army was beaten and put to flight;
that the king had fled with few attendants; and that all the states of Macedon had submitted to the Romans.”
On hearing this, a universal shouting and clapping of hands arose among the commons; and most of them, leaving the games, hastened home to communicate the joyful tidings to their wives and children.
This was the thirteenth day after the battle was fought in Macedon.