after the battle with the king, while games were being celebrated in the circus, a rumour in the audience suddenly swept over the whole auditorium that a battle had been fought in Macedonia and the king beaten; then the buzz increased; finally there arose shouting and clapping, as if a definite report of victory had arrived.
The magistrates were astonished and sought after the originator of this sudden rejoicing. When no such person was found, the rejoicing as if for an established fact died away, but the happy omen lurked nevertheless in men's minds.
After confirmation came through the genuine report on the arrival of Fabius, Lentulus, and Metellus, men rejoiced both in the actual victory and in the prophetic power of their spirits. The story is told of a second rejoicing by the mob at the circus, which seemed no less genuine.
On the sixteenth of [p. 251]
September, on the second day of the Roman Games,2
it is said that a messenger who said he came from Macedonia handed despatches wreathed with laurel to the consul Gaius Licinius as he was going up to start the chariot-race. When the race was over, the consul mounted his chariot and as he was being driven back to the reserved seats, showed the despatches to the people. At the sight of them the people at once forgot the show and rushed down into the arena. On the spot, the consul summoned the senate, had the despatches read, and on motion of the Fathers, announced to the people before the magistrates' seats that his colleague Lucius Aemilius had fought a pitched battle with King Perseus, that the Macedonian army had been slaughtered and routed, that the king had fled with but few followers, and that all the cities of Macedonia had come under the sway of the Roman people.
On hearing this, shouting with great clapping of hands began; the games were deserted and most of the people took home the glad news to their wives and children. This was the twelfth day after the battle had taken place in Macedonia.
II. Next day the senate met in the senate-house, a thanksgiving was voted, and a resolution passed that the consul should discharge men whom he had under oath,3
except soldiers and sailors, and that the question of dismissing soldiers and sailors should be put when the envoys who had sent the messenger ahead should arrive from the consul Lucius Aemilius.
On the twenty-fifth day of September, about the [p. 253]
second hour the envoys entered the city,4
their way to the forum, drawing after them a huge crowd of people who met them at every point on their way, and proceeded to escort them. The senate happened to be in the senate-house; the consul presented the envoys there.
They were kept there just long enough to explain how large the king's forces of infantry and cavalry had been, how many thousand of them had been slain and how many captured, with the loss of how few of our men this great slaughter of the enemy had been accomplished, and how hastily the king had fled; it was thought, the envoys said, that he would make for Samothrace; the fleet was ready to pursue, and it would be impossible for him to slip away either by land or sea.
On being brought before a meeting shortly thereafter, the envoys related the same facts. Joy broke out anew when the consul proclaimed that all sacred buildings should be opened;
from the meeting, each citizen went of his own accord to offer thanks to the gods, and all over the city the temples of the immortal gods were filled with a huge throng, not only of men, but of women too.
The senate was recalled to the senate-house, voted that thanksgiving for the glorious achievement of the consul Lucius Aemilius should be observed for five days at all the banquet-tables of the gods, and ordered sacrifice offered with the larger victims.
The ships which were moored in the Tiber ready and equipped to be sent to Macedonia, if circumstances [p. 255]
demanded it, were to be put ashore and housed in6
the ship-sheds; the sailors were to be discharged after receiving their year's pay, and with them, all those who had taken the oath before the consul. It was voted to discharge all soldiers who were in Corcyra, at Brundisium, along the Adriatic, or in the territory of Larinum —for an army had been distributed among all these places, to enable Gaius Licinius to bring aid to his colleague, if the situation demanded it.
At a meeting a thanksgiving was proclaimed to the people for the eleventh of October and the four days following.