The alarm in Histria having finally subsided, the senate passed a decree that the consuls should arrange between themselves which should come to Rome to hold the elections.
When the tribunes of the people, Aulus Licinius Nerva and Gaius Papirius Turdus, were tearing the absent consul Manlius to pieces in their assemblies and proposing a bill that Manlius should not hold his command after the Ides of March —for the provincial commands of the [p. 201]
consuls had already been prolonged for a year —1
that he might be able to plead his cause immediately upon his retirement from office, this measure was vetoed by their colleague Quintus Aelius, who after violent arguments prevailed to prevent its passing.2
At about this time, when Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Lucius Postumius Albinus3
had returned to Rome from Spain, an audience before the senate was granted to them by the praetor Marcus Titinius, to be held in the temple of Bellona so that they might present an account of their achievements, claim the distinctions they deserved and ask that honour should be paid to the immortal gods.
At the same time there was great confusion in Sardinia also, as was learned from dispatches from Titus Aebutius the praetor which had been brought to the senate by his son.
reinforced by auxiliaries of the Balari,5
had attacked the province while it was at peace, and could not be resisted since the army was weak and had lost a large number of its members as a result of a pestilence.
Ambassadors of the Sardinians also brought the same news and begged that the senate should send aid to the towns at least —for the fields had already been abandoned in despair. This embassy and the whole question about what was to be done concerning Sardinia was postponed to the new administration.
An equally pitiful embassy from the Lycians arrived,6
who complained of the cruelty of the [p. 203]
Rhodians, under whose control they had been placed7
by Lucius Cornelius Scipio.8
They said that they had been under the dominion of Antiochus; this slavery to the King, when compared with their present situation, seemed glorious liberty. They were not merely as a state oppressed by their government, but private citizens were suffering downright bondage.
Their wives and children, they said, were abused; cruelty was wreaked upon their bodies and their backs; their reputations —a shameful procedure —were stained and dishonoured; and openly hateful acts were done merely for the sake of displaying an abuse of power, in order to leave no doubt that there was no distinction between themselves and slaves bought with money.9
The senate, moved by this appeal, entrusted the Lycians with a letter for the Rhodians, stating that it was not their pleasure that the Lycians should be enslaved by the Rhodians nor any people who had been born in freedom by any other people;
the Lycians had been placed under the administrative control and at the same time the protection of the Rhodians on the same conditions as the allied states enjoyed under the guardianship of the Roman people.