While these matters were being discussed in the senate, Gnaeus Cornelius, summoned by a messenger, left the senate-house, and shortly afterward returned with a troubled expression and reported to the Conscript Fathers that the liver of a sescenaris
which he had sacrificed had melted away.
He added that, scarcely believing the man in charge of the victims when he reported this, he had himself directed that the water be poured out of the kettle in which the entrails were being boiled and had seen all the rest of the entrails complete, but the whole liver had been consumed by an indescribable wasting.
To the Fathers, already terrified by this portent, the other consul brought additional anxiety by reporting that he had failed to obtain a favourable omen after sacrificing three cattle, as the head of the liver had been missing.
The senate directed him to continue sacrificing full-grown victims until he received a favorable omen. They say that in the case of the other gods they were obtained; to Salus, they say, Petilius could find no good omen.
Then the consuls and praetors drew lots for their provinces. Pisa fell to Gnaeus Cornelius in the drawing, the Ligurians to Quintus Petilius. Of the praetors, Lucius Papirius Maso [p. 231]
gained by lot the civil jurisdiction; Marcus Aburius2
that between citizens and aliens.
Marcus Cornelius Scipio Maluginensis had Farther Spain and Lucius Aquilius Gallus Sicily. Two asked to be excused from going to their provinces, Marcus Popilius to Sardinia: Gracchus, he said, was pacifying that province;
the praetor Titus Aebutius had been assigned him as an assistant by the senate.
That the regular course of business should be interrupted, in the completion of which mere continuity was most effective, was by no means expedient; during a transfer of command and the novitiate of the successor, which had to be devoted to learning things rather than doing them, opportunities for successful operations were often lost.3
The plea of Popilius was accepted.
Publius Licinius Crassus alleged that he was hindered by obligatory sacrifices from going to his province; Nearer Spain had fallen to his lot. But he was ordered either to go or to take oath before the assembly that he was prevented by an obligatory sacrifice.4
When this had been approved in the case of Publius Licinius, Marcus Cornelius also demanded that they should accept his oath, as an excuse for not going to Farther Spain. Both praetors swore in the same formula.
Marcus Titinius and Titus Fonteius the proconsuls were instructed to remain in Spain with the same prerogative of command; it was also ordered that as reinforcements for them three thousand Roman citizens and two hundred cavalry, five thousand [p. 233]
infantry and three hundred cavalry of the allies of5
the Latin confederacy should be sent.