In the five hundred and fifty-first year from B.. 200 the founding of the city, in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius Galba and Gaius Aurelius, war was declared against King Philip, a few months after peace had been granted to the Carthaginians.
On the Ides1
of March, the day on which the new
magistrates were inaugurated at that period, the consul Publius Sulpicius first of all offered a motion, which the senate passed, that the consuls should perform a sacrifice of full-grown victims to whatever gods should seem best to them, and should at the same time make this prayer:
“Whatever the senate and the Roman people shall resolve for the common good and with reference to beginning a new war, may this decision turn out well and happily for the Roman people, the allies, and the Latin name;”2
that after the sacrifice and prayer they should lay before the senate the question of the public weal and of the provinces.
In these days two things [p. 17]
occurred opportunely for arousing popular sentiment3
in favour of the war: the arrival of the dispatches from the commissioner Marcus Aurelius and Marcus Laevinus the propraetor, and the coming of a new embassy from the Athenians, which brought word that the king was approaching
their borders and that in a short time not only their farms but Athens itself would be in his power unless there should be some assistance from the Romans.
When the consuls had reported that the sacrifices had been duly performed and that the gods had given approval to their prayers, that the soothsayers had given answer that the entrails were propitious and portended an extension of territory, victory, and a triumph, then the letters of Valerius and Aurelius were read and the Athenian embassy given audience.
The senate next decreed that the allies should be thanked because, though long harassed, they had not been led even by fear of siege to break their faith;
with regard to sending aid, it was the senate's intention to answer their appeal when the consuls had been allotted their provinces and that consul to whom the province of Macedonia had fallen had proposed to the people a declaration of war upon Philip, King of the Macedonians.4