The news of this disaster arriving, when the state had been in so great a panic for many days, that the shops were shut up as if the solitude of night reigned through the city; the senate gave it in charge to the aediles to go round the city, cause the shops to be opened, and this appearance of public affliction to be removed.
Then Titus Sempronius, having assembled the senate, consoled and encouraged the fathers, requesting, “that they who had sustained the defeat at Cannae with so much magnanimity would not now be cast down with less calamities.
That if their arms should prosper, as he hoped they would, against Hannibal and the Carthaginians, the war with the Gauls might be suspended and deferred without hazard.
The gods and the Roman people would have it in their power to revenge the treachery of the Gauls another time. That they should now deliberate about the Carthaginian foe, and the forces with which the war was to be prosecuted.”
He first laid before them the number of foot and horse, as well citizens as allies, that were in the dictator's army.
Then Marcellus gave an account of the amount of his. Those who knew were asked what troops were in Apulia with Caius Terentius Varro the consul. But no practicable plan could be devised for raising consular armies sufficient to support so important a war. For this reason, notwithstanding a just resentment irritated them, they determined that Gaul should be passed over for that year.
The dictator's army was assigned to the consul; and they ordered such of the troops of Marcellus's army as had fled from Cannae, to be transported into Sicily, to serve there as long as the war continued in Italy.
Thither, likewise, were ordered to be sent as unfit to serve with him, the weakest of the dictator's troops, no time of service being appointed, but the [p. 866]
legal number of campaigns.
The two legions in the city were voted to the other consul who should be elected in the room of Posthumius; and they resolved that he should be elected as soon as the auspices would permit.
Besides, two legions were immediately to be recalled from Sicily, out of which the consul, to whom the city legions fell, might take what number of men he should have occasion for.
The consul Caius Terentius Varro was continued in his command for one year, without lessening the army he had for the defence of Apulia.