In the midst of their attention to more important matters the election of a maximus curio,1
when they were choosing a priest to succeed Marcus Aemilius, stirred up an old contest.
The patricians declared that no regard should be paid to C. Mamilius Atellus, the one plebeian who was a candidate, since no one not a patrician had previously held that priesthood.
The tribunes were appealed to, and referred the case back to the senate; the senate gave the people power to decide. Thus as the first plebeian Gaius Mamilius Atellus was elected maximus curio.
And Publius Licinius, the pontifex maximus, compelled Gaius Valerius Flaccus to be installed as flamen of Jupiter, although unwilling. Gaius Laetorius was named one of the decemviri for the performance of rites in place of Quintus Mucius Scaevola deceased.
The reason for installing a flamen perforce I should gladly have passed over in silence, had not his reputation changed from bad to good. Because of his irresponsible and dissipated youth Gaius Flaccus, who was odious to his own brother, Lucius Flaccus, and other relatives on account of the same vices, had been seized upon as flamen by Publius Licinius, pontifex maximus.
As soon as the charge of rites and ceremonies took possession of his mind, Gaius so suddenly put off his old character that no one among all the young men stood higher in the estimation and approval of the leading [p. 237]
senators, both of his own family and of strangers alike.2
By the unanimity of this good report he was raised to a well-founded self-confidence, and claimed what had been in abeyance for many years owing to the unworthiness of former flamens, namely, that he should be admitted to the senate.
When he had entered the Senate House, and the praetor, Publius Licinius, had escorted him out of it, he appealed to the tribunes of the plebs. The flamen insistently claimed an ancient right of his priesthood, saying it had been granted to that office of flamen along with the toga praetexta
and the sella curulis.
The praetor maintained that a right was based, not upon outmoded instances from the annals, but in each case upon very recent practice; and that within the memory neither of their fathers nor grandfathers had any flamen of Jupiter exercised that right.
The tribunes expressed the opinion that obsolescence due to the indolence of flamens was justly accounted their own loss, not a loss to the priestly office. Whereupon, without opposition even from the praetor himself, and with the general approval of the senators and of the commons, the tribunes led the flamen into the senate,3
for it was the opinion of everyone that the flamen
had carried his point rather by the uprightness of his life than by virtue of priestly privilege.
The consuls, before leaving for their provinces, enrolled two city legions to supplement the other armies so far as was necessary.
The duty of leading the former city army into Etruria the consul Fulvius assigned to Gaius Fulvius Flaccus, his lieutenant —this was the consul's brother —also that of bringing the legions that were in Etruria away to Rome.
And Fabius, the consul, ordered his son Quintus [p. 239]
Maximus to search out the remains of the Fulvian.4
—and they amounted to four thousand three hundred and forty-four —and to conduct them to Sicily to Marcus Valerius, the proconsul; also to receive from him two legions and thirty quinqueremes.6
The withdrawal of these legions from the islands did not reduce the garrison of that province at all either in actual strength or in appearance.
For Valerius, in addition to the two old legions remarkably well recruited, had a large number of Numidian deserters also, cavalry and infantry; and he enrolled Sicilians likewise who had been in the army of Epicydes7
or of the Carthaginians, being men trained in warfare.
Having attached these foreign auxiliary forces to each of the Roman legions, he preserved the appearance of two armies. With the one he ordered Lucius Cincius to defend that part of the island where had been the kingdom of Hiero; with the other he himself defended the rest of the island, formerly divided by the boundaries between the Roman and the Punic empires.8
The fleet also of seventy ships was divided, so that they might protect the seacoast around its entire circuit.
Valerius himself with Muttines' cavalry roamed about his province, in order to visit the farms and to distinguish between cultivated and uncultivated lands, and to praise or upbraid the owners accordingly.
So, owing to this diligence, such a crop of grain was produced that he sent grain to Rome and also transported it to Catina, [p. 241]
whence it could be supplied to the army which was to9
have its summer camp near Tarentum.