THE history of the Romans from the founding1
of the City of Rome to the capture of the same —at first under kings and afterwards under consuls and dictators, decemvirs and consular tribunes —their
foreign wars and their domestic dissensions, I have set forth in five books, dealing with matters which are obscure not only by reason of their great antiquity —like far-off objects which can hardly be descried —but also because in those days there was but slightly and scanty use of writing, the sole trustworthy guardian of the memory of past events, and because even such records as existed in the commentaries of the pontiffs and in other public and private documents, nearly all perished in the conflagration of the City.
From this point onwards a clearer and more definite account shall be given of the City's civil and military history, when, beginning for a second time, it sprang up, as it were from the old roots, with a more luxuriant and fruitful growth.
Now it stood at first by leaning on the same support by which it had raised itself up, that is on Marcus Furius, its foremost citizen;
neither would men suffer him to resign the dictatorship till the completion of the year.2
That elections for the ensuing year should be held by the tribunes, in whose magistracy the City had been captured, was considered inadvisable, and the state reverted to an [p. 197]
interregnum. While the citizens were engrossed in3
unremitting toil and labour to restore the City, Quintus Fabius had no sooner quitted his magistracy than he was indicted by Gnaeus Marcius, a tribune of the plebs, on the ground of his having fought in violation of the
law of nations against the Gauls, to whom he had been sent as an envoy —a trial which he escaped by a death so opportune that the majority believed it voluntary.
The interregnum began: Publius Cornelius Scipio was interrex; and after him Marcus Furius Camillus, who effected the election, as tribunes of the soldiers with consular authority, of Lucius Valerius Publicola (for the second time) Lucius Verginius, Publius Cornelius, Aulus Manlius, Lucius Aemilius, and Lucius Postumius.
after the interregnum, entered upon their term, they consulted the senate before everything else on questions of religious observance.
Among the first decrees they passed was one for searching out the treaties and laws — to wit, the twelve tables and certain laws of the kings, —so far as they could be discovered. Some of these were made accessible even to the common people, but such as dealt with sacred rites were kept private by the pontiffs, chiefly that they might hold the minds of the populace in subjection through religious fear.
Then they proceeded to deliberate about days of evil omen. The 18th of July was notorious for a double misfortune, since it was on that day that the Fabii were massacred at the Cremera and that subsequently the rout at the Allia occurred, which resulted in the destruction of the City. From the latter disaster they named it the Day of the Allia, and forbade any public or [p. 199]
private business to be done that day.
because Sulpicius had, on the day after the Ides of July, made an unacceptable sacrifice, and, without having gained the divine approval, had two days later exposed the Roman army to the enemy, that therefore religious rites were omitted also on the days after the several Ides; and that afterwards it became traditional that the morrow after Kalends and Nones should likewise be avoided, from the same scruple.