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[77] 35. "Again, did not Gaius Flaminius1 by his neglect of premonitory signs in his second consulship in the Second Punic War cause great disaster to the State? For, after a review of his army, he had moved his camp and was marching towards Arretium to meet Hannibal, when his horse, for no apparent reason, suddenly fell with him just in front of the statue of Jupiter Stator. Although the soothsayers considered this a divine warning not to join battle, he did not so regard it. Again, after the [p. 309] auspices by means of the tripudium2 had been taken the keeper of the sacred chickens advised the postponement of battle. Flaminius then asked,' Suppose the chickens should never eat, what would you advise in that case?' 'You should remain in camp,' was the reply. 'Fine auspices indeed!' said Flaminius, 'for they counsel action when chickens' crops are empty and inaction when chickens' crops are filled.' So he ordered the standards to be plucked up and the army to follow him. Then, when the standard-bearer of the first company could not loosen his standard, several soldiers came to his assistance, but to no purpose. This fact was reported to Flaminius, and he, with his accustomed obstinacy, ignored it. The consequence was that within three hours his army was cut to pieces and he himself was slain.

1 Gaius Flaminius Nepos was defeated and slain 217 B.C., by Hannibal at Lake Trasimenus with the loss of 15,000 troops. Cf. Livy xxi. 57, 63.

2 Cf. i. 15. 28, and ii. 34. 72.

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