Quintus Fulvius Flaccus and Appius Claudius1
entered upon their consulship, the former for the third time. And the praetors received by lot the following assignments: Publius Cornelius Sulla, the duties of praetor urbanus and praetor peregrinus,2
previously two separate offices;
Gnaeus Fulvius Flaccus, Apulia, Gaius Claudius Nero, Suessula,3
Marcus Junius Silanus, Etruria.
To the consuls were assigned by decree the war with Hannibal and two legions each. The one was to take over his troops from Quintus Fabius, consul in the previous year, the other from Fulvius Centumalus.
Of the praetors, Fulvius Flaccus was to have the legions which had been at Luceria under the praetor Aemilius, Nero Claudius the one4
which had been in the Picene district under Gaius Terentius. They were themselves to enlist more recruits for the same. To Marcus Junius the [p. 349]
city legions of the previous year were given for5
For Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Publius Sempronius Tuditanus their commands and provinces, Lucania and Gaul, with their armies, were continued.
And the same was done for Publius Lentulus, within the limits of the old province in Sicily, and for Marcellus, whose province was Syracuse and up to the former boundaries of Hiero's kingdom.6
The fleet was assigned to Titus Otacilius, Greece to Marcus Valerius, Sardinia to Quintus Mucius Scaevola, the Spanish provinces to Publius and Gnaeus Cornelius.
In addition to the old armies two city legions were enrolled by the consuls, and the total that year amounted to twenty-three legions.
The consular levy was hampered by the conduct of Marcus Postumius of Pyrgi, which almost occasioned a serious insurrection.
Postumius was a tax-farmer, who in many years had had no equal in dishonesty and avarice in the state, except Titus Pomponius Veientanus, whom the Carthaginians under Hanno's command had captured in the preceding year, while he was rashly ravaging the country in Lucania.7
These men, since the state assumed the risk from violent storms in the case of shipments to the armies, had falsely reported imaginary shipwrecks, and even those which they had correctly reported had been brought about by their own trickery, not by accident.
They would put small cargoes of little value on old, battered vessels, sink them at sea, after taking off the crews in small boats that were in readiness, and then falsely declare that the shipments were far more valuable.
This dishonesty had been reported in the previous year to Marcus Aemilius, the praetor, and by him brought before the senate, but it was not branded by [p. 351]
any decree of the senate, because the senators were8
unwilling to offend the tax-farmers as a class at such a crisis.
The people proved a more unsparing avenger of dishonesty; namely, two tribunes of the plebs, Spurius and Lucius Carvilius, were at length aroused, and seeing that the affair was unpopular and notorious, imposed a fine of two hundred thousand asses upon Marcus Postumius. When the day for his protest against this fine arrived, the assembly of the commons9
was so large that the open space on the Capitol could scarcely contain the crowd.
After the arguments were concluded, there seemed to be but one hope, namely, if Gaius
Servilius Casca, a tribune of the plebs who was a blood-relative of Postumius, should interpose his veto before the tribes should be called to vote.
The tribunes provided witnesses,10
cleared the people away, and the urn was brought, that they might determine by lot in which tribe the Latins11
should vote. Meantime the tax-farmers pressed Casca to adjourn that day's hearing before the assembly.
The people protested; and it so happened that the first seat at the end of the platform was occupied by Casca, whose mind was swayed at once by fear and shame.
Finding in him no sufficient protection, the publicans, in order to prevent action, rushed in a wedge through the space cleared by removal of the crowd, while at the sametime they reviled the people and the tribunes.
And it had almost come to a battle when Fulvius, the consul, said to the tribunes, “Do you not see that you are reduced to the ranks,12
and that this means an insurrection if you do not promptly dismiss the popular assembly?”