Amid concerns of greater importance, an old dispute was revived at the election of a chief curio, when a priest was appointed to succeed Marcus Aemilius;
the patricians denying that Caius Mamilius Vitulus, who was a plebeian candidate, ought to be allowed to stand, because no one before his time had held that priesthood who was not a patrician. The tribunes, on being appealed to, referred the matter to the senate.
The senate left it to the decision of the people. Thus Caius Mamilius Vitulus was the first plebeian created chief curio.
Publius Licinius, chief pontiff, compelled Caius Valerius Flaccus to be inaugurated flamen of Jupiter, against his will. Caius Valerius Laetorius was created decemvir for the performance of sacred rites, in the room of Quintus Mucius Scaevola, deceased. I should willingly have passed over in silence the reason of a flamen's being compelled to be inaugurated, had he not become a good, from having been a bad character.
In consequence of having spent his youth in idleness and debauchery, vices for which he had incurred the displeasure of his own brother, Lucius Flaccus, and the rest of his kinsmen, Caius Flaccus was chosen flamen by Publius Licinius, chief pontiff.
As soon as his mind became occupied with the care of the sacred rites and ceremonies, he soon so completely divested himself of his former habits, that no one among all the youth was more esteemed, or enjoyed in a greater degree the approbation of the chief of the patricians, whether relations or aliens.
Being raised by this general good character to a proper confidence in himself, he claimed to be admitted into the senate; a thing intermitted for many years, on account of the worthlessness of former flamens.
On entering the senate, Lucius Licinius, the praetor, led him out; on which the flamen appealed to the tribunes of the people. He demanded back the ancient privilege of his priesthood, which was given, together with the purple-bordered robe, and the curule chair, to the office of flamen.
The praetor wished the question to rest not on the precedents contained in the annals, which were obsolete from their antiquity, but on the usual practice in all the cases of most recent date; urging, that no flamen of Jupiter, in the memory of their fathers or their grandfathers, had taken up that privilege.
The tribunes [p. 1101]
giving it as their opinion, that justice required, that as the obliteration of the privilege was occasioned by the negligence of the flamens, the consequences ought to fall upon the flamens themselves, and not upon the office, led the flamen into the senate, with the general approbation of the fathers, and without any opposition, even from the praetor himself;
while all were of opinion that the flamen had obtained his object more from the purity of his life, than any right appertaining to the priesthood. The consuls, before they departed to their provinces, raised two legions for the city, and as many soldiers as were necessary to make up the numbers of the other armies.
The consul Fulvius appointed his brother, Caius Fulvius Flaccus, lieutenant-general, to march the old city army into Etruria, and to bring to Rome the legions which were in Etruria.
And the consul Fabius ordered his son, Quintus Fabius Maximus, to lead the remains of the army of Fulvius, which had been collected, amounting to three thousand three hundred and thirty-six, into Sicily to Marcus Valerius, the proconsul, and to receive from him two legions and thirty quinqueremes.
The withdrawing of these legions from the island did not at all diminish the force employed for the protection of that province, either in effect or appearance;
for though, in addition to two veteran legions which were most effectively reinforced, he had a great number of Numidian deserters, both horse and foot, he raised also a body of Sicilian troops, consisting of men who had served in the armies of Epicydes and the Carthaginians, and were experienced in war.
Having added these foreign auxiliaries to each of the Roman legions, he preserved the appearance of two armies. With one he ordered Lucius Cinctius to protect that portion of the island which had formed the kingdom of Hiero, with the other he himself guarded the rest of the island, which was formerly divided by the boundary of the Roman and Carthaginian dominions.
He divided also the fleet of seventy ships, in order that it might protect the sea-coast, through the entire extent of its shores.
He himself went through the island with the cavalry of Mutines to inspect the lands, observe those which were cultivated and those which were not, and, accordingly, either praise or reprove the owners.
By this diligence so large a quantity of corn was produced, that he both sent some to Rome, and collected at Catana corn which might serve as a [p. 1102]
supply for the army, which was about to pass the summer at Tarentum.