Publius Furius Philus and Marcus Pomponius, the praetors, called the senate together in the Curia Hostilia, to consult about the defence of Rome;
for they made no doubt that the enemy, after wiping out their armies, would be advancing to besiege the City, which was all that remained to do to end the war.
But when, amid dangers at once so immense and so incalculable, they failed to think of even any tolerable plan of action, and were deafened with the cries and lamentations of the women, both the living and the dead —in the lack as yet of any announcement —being
indiscriminately mourned in almost every house, then Quintus Fabius Maximus urged that light-armed horsemen be sent out along the Appian [p. 381]
and Latin ways, and questioning those they met —1
for some there would surely be who had dispersed and made off in the rout —bring back word of the fortunes of the consuls and the armies, and if the immortal gods, taking pity on the empire, had spared any remnant of the Roman name, where those forces were;
whither Hannibal had gone after the battle, what his plans were, what he was doing and was likely to do.
To discover and ascertain these facts was a task, he said, for active youths; what the Fathers themselves must do, since there were not magistrates enough, was this: quell the panic and confusion in the City; keep the matrons off the streets and compel them each to abide in her own home;
restrain families from lamentation; procure silence throughout the City; see that bearers of any news were brought before the praetors —every man must wait at home for tidings that concerned himself;
—and, besides this, post sentries at the gates, to keep anyone from leaving the City, and make the people rest all hope of safety on the safety of Rome and of its walls. When the tumult had died down, then the Fathers must be convened again and consider how to defend the City.