About that time Gnaeus Servilius, the1
consul, who had no doubt that to him belonged the glory of giving peace to Italy, as if in pursuit of a Hannibal whom he had driven out himself, crossed over to Sicily, intending to cross from there to Africa.
When this was noised abroad at Rome, at first the senators had voted that the praetor2
should write to the consul that the senate thought it proper for him to return to Italy.
Then, as the praetor said that Servilius would disregard his letter, Publius Sulpicius3
was made dictator for that very purpose; and by virtue of his higher authority he recalled the consul to Italy.
The rest of the year he spent with his master of the horse, Marcus Servilius,4
in making the rounds of such cities in Italy as had been estranged by the war and in hearing their cases one after another.
During the armistice a hundred transports sent from Sardinia by the praetor Publius Lentulus5
with supplies and convoyed by twenty war-ships crossed to Africa over a sea safe from the enemy and safe from storms.
Gnaeus Octavius, crossing over from Sicily with two hundred transports and thirty war-ships, was not so fortunate. When he had almost come in sight of Africa after a favourable passage, the wind at first failed him;
then shifting into a southwester, it damaged and scattered the ships far and wide.
He himself with the war-ships battled against head seas by great efforts on the part of the oarsmen and reached the Promontory of Apollo.6
Most of the transports were carried to the island of [p. 453]
on the seaward side closes the8
bay upon which lies Carthage, about thirty miles from the city —the rest of them to Aquae Calidae,9
opposite the city itself. Everything could be seen from Carthage; and so from all parts of the city people ran to the market-place.
The magistrates summoned the senate; the people before the entrance of the Senate House protested against letting go so much booty out of their sight and reach.
While some objected, pleading the sanctity of peace negotiations, others that of the armistice —for its term had not yet expired —the meeting of the senate was all but merged with that of the people. It was agreed that Hasdrubal should sail over to Aegimurus with his fleet of fifty ships, and then gather up the Roman ships scattered along the shore and in the harbours.
Deserted by the flight of their crews the transports were towed by the stern to Carthage, first from Aegimurus and then from Aquae.