When one messenger after another kept reporting that the war was close at hand, it seemed important under the circumstances that the consuls [p. 69]
should be chosen at the first possible opportunity.1
Therefore a decree of the senate was passed to the effect that Marcus Fulvius the praetor should at once send despatches to the consul, in which he should be informed of the senate's desire that he should turn over his province and army
to his lieutenants and return to Rome, and send ahead while on the road the edict in which he announced the election for the choice of consuls.
The consul obeyed the message, and sending his edict ahead he came to Rome. In this year also there was a hotly-contested campaign, since three patricians were contending for one place —Publius
Cornelius Scipio, the son of Gnaeus, who had suffered defeat the year before, and Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Manlius Volso. Publius Scipio, that it might seem in the case of so great a man that the honour was postponed but not refused, received one consulship; he was given as colleague from the plebeians Manius Acilius Glabrio.
The next day the praetors were chosen — Lucius Aemilius Paulus, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Marcus Junius Brutus, Aulus Cornelius Mammula, Gaius Livius and Lucius Oppius, both of whom had the surname Salinator; it was Oppius who had led the fleet of twenty ships to Sicily.
Meanwhile, until the new magistrates should cast lots for the provinces, Marcus Baebius was directed to cross with all his forces from Brundisium to Epirus and to hold his troops around Apollonia, and Marcus Fulvius
the urban praetor was entrusted with the task of building fifty new quinqueremes.