After assuming his office, he first quelled a great agitation for revolt in Etruria, and visited and pacified the cities there; next, he desired to dedicate to Honour and Virtue a temple that he had built out of his Sicilian spoils, hut was prevented by the priests, who would not consent that two deities should occupy one temple; he therefore began to build another temple adjoining the first, although he resented the priests' opposition and regarded it as ominous.
And indeed many other portents disturbed him: sundry temples were struck by lightning, and in that of Jupiter, mice had gnawed the gold; it was reported also that an ox had uttered human speech, and that a boy had been born with an elephant's head; moreover, in their expiatory rites and sacrifices, the seers received bad omens, and therefore detained him at Rome, though he was all on fire and impatient to be gone.1
For no man ever had such a passion for any thing as he had for fighting a decisive battle with Hannibal.
This was his dream at night, his one subject for deliberation with friends and colleagues, his one appeal to the gods, namely, that he might find Hannibal drawn up to meet him. And I think he would have been most pleased to have the struggle decided with both armies enclosed by a single wall or rampart; and if he had not been full already of abundant honour, and if he had not given abundant proof that he could be compared with any general whomsoever in solidity of judgement, I should have said that he had fallen a victim to a youthful ambition that ill became such a great age as his. For he had passed his sixtieth year when he entered upon his fifth consulship.2