For example, Tiberius Sempronius, a man most highly esteemed by the Romans for his valour and probity, proclaimed Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius his successors in the consulship, but when they had already taken command in their provinces, he came upon a book of religious observances wherein he found a certain ancient prescript of which he had been ignorant.
It was this. Whenever a magistrate, sitting in a hired house or tent outside the city to take auspices from the flight of birds, is compelled for any reason to return to the city before sure signs have appeared, he must give up the house first hired and take another, and from this he must take his observations anew. Of this, it would seem, Tiberius was not aware, and had twice used the same house before proclaiming the men I have mentioned as consuls. But afterwards, discovering his error, he referred the matter to the senate.
This body did not make light of so trifling an omission, but wrote to the consuls about it; and they, leaving their provinces, came back to Rome with speed, and laid down their offices. This, however, took place at a later time.1
But at about the time of which I am speaking, two most illustrious priests were deposed from their priesthoods, Cornelius Cethegus, because he presented the entrails of his victim improperly,
and Quintus Sulpicius, because, while he was sacrificing, the peaked cap which the priests called flamens2
wear had fallen from his head. Moreover, because the squeak of a shrew-mouse (they call it
‘sorex’) was heard just as Minucius the dictator appointed Caius Flaminius his master of horse, the people deposed these officials and put others in their places. And although they were punctilious in such trifling matters, they did not fall into any superstition, because they made no change or deviation in their ancient rites.