It was also reported that at Ostia the wall and a gate [p. 307]
of the city had been struck by lightning, that at Caere2
a vulture had flown into the temple of Jupiter, that at Volsinii the lake3
was stained with blood. On account of these prodigies prayers were offered for one day. For several days full-grown victims were slain without a favourable result, and for a long time the peace of the gods was not secured.
It was upon the heads of the consuls that dire consequences of the portents descended, while the state remained unharmed.
The Games of Apollo had been observed for the first time in the consulship of Quintus Fulvius and Appius Claudius,4
under the direction of Publius Cornelius Sulla, the city praetor. From that time all the successive city praetors had conducted them. But they vowed them for a single year and did not conduct them on a fixed date.
That year a serious epidemic fell upon the city and the countryside, occasioning maladies, however, that were rather lingering than fatal. On account of that epidemic prayers were offered at the street corners throughout the city; and in addition Publius Licinius Varus, the city praetor, was ordered to propose to the people a bill that those games should be vowed in perpetuity for a fixed date.5
He himself was the first to vow them in those terms, and he conducted them on the fifth6
Thenceforward that day was kept as a regular holiday.
XXIV. As regards the Arretines, reports grew more serious every day, and the anxiety of the senators was increased. Accordingly Gaius Hostilius [p. 309]
received written orders not to postpone taking8
hostages from the Arretines, and Gaius Terentius Varro was sent with military authority, that Hostilius might turn them over to him to be escorted to Rome.
Upon Varro's arrival Hostilius at once ordered the one legion which was encamped before the city to advance into the city, and he posted his forces in suitable positions. Then, summoning the senate to the forum, he demanded hostages of them. When the senate asked for two days to consider, he ordered that they themselves furnish them forthwith, or else on the next day, he declared, he would take all the children of the senators.
Thereupon the tribunes of the soldiers and prefects of allies and centurions were bidden to guard the gates, that no one might leave the city in the night. This was done slowly and with carelessness. Seven leading members of the senate, before guards could be posted at the gates, escaped before nightfall with their children. Next day at dawn they were missed when the senators began to be summoned to the forum, and their property was sold.
From the rest of the senators a hundred and twenty hostages, their own children, were taken and handed over to Gaius Terentius Varro to be escorted to Rome. Varro in the senate represented everything as causing more apprehension than before.
And so, just as if an outbreak in Etruria were imminent, Gaius Terentius himself was ordered to lead a single legion, one or the other of the city legions, to Arretium and to keep that legion as the garrison of the town. As for Gaius Hostilius, it was decided that with the rest of the army he should scour the whole province and see to it that no opportunity was given to those eager [p. 311]
for a revolution. Upon the arrival of Gaius9
Terentius at Arretium with his legion, when he demanded of the magistrates the keys of the gates, and they said they were not to be found, thinking they were removed by stealth and not really missing through carelessness, he himself provided other keys for all the gates, and took great pains to have everything under his own control.
He very earnestly warned Hostilius to rest his hope that the Etruscans would not make any move upon one thing —that he had first made it impossible for them to do so.