These entering the camp and showing the heads caused such panic, that if the Romans had instantly advanced to the camp they might have taken it.
As it was, a general flight took place; and some were of opinion that ambassadors should be sent to supplicate for peace; while a great number of states, on hearing this intelligence, surrendered: and when the praetor had given pardon to them while endeavouring to excuse themselves, and laying all the blame on the madness of the two individuals who had voluntarily offered themselves for punishment, he proceeded immediately to the other states, every one of which acknowledged his authority, and he passed with his army in peace, without doing any injury, through the tract of country where before the flames of war raged with the utmost fury.
This mercy shown by the praetor, by which he overcame without bloodshed a very savage people, was the more pleasing to the senate and people, as the war had been conducted in Greece both by the consul Licinius and the praetor Lucretius with [p. 2036]
uncommon avarice and cruelty.
The plebeian tribunes, daily, in their speeches to the people, censured Lucretius for being absent, though it was alleged in his favour that he was abroad on the business of the public.
But so little was then known of what passed, even in the vicinity of Rome, that he was, at that very time, at his own estate near Antium; and, with money amassed in his expedition, was bringing water thither from the river Loracina; he is said to have contracted for the execution of this work at the expense of one hundred and thirty thousand asses.2
He also decorated the temple of Aesculapius with pictures taken from among the spoils. But ambassadors from Abdera diverted the public displeasure, and the consequent disgrace, from Lucretius to his successor. These stood weeping at the door of the senate-house, and complained, that “their town had been stormed and plundered by Hortensius.
His only reason,” they said, “for destroying their city was, that, on his demanding from them one hundred thousand denariuses,3
and fifty thousand measures of wheat, they had requested time until they could send ambassadors on the subject, both to the consul Hostilius, and to Rome; and that they had scarcely reached the consul, when they heard that the town was stormed, their nobles beheaded, and the rest sold for slaves.”
This act appeared to the senate deserving their indignation, and they passed the same decree respecting the people of Abdera as they had passed concerning the Coronaeans.
They also ordered Quintus Maenius, the praetor, to publish the notice in a general assembly, as had been done the year before. Two ambassadors, Caius Sempronius Blaesus and Sextus Julius Caesar, were sent to restore the Abderites to liberty;
and were likewise commissioned to deliver a message from the senate to the consul Hostilius, and to the praetor Hortensius, that the senate judged the war made on the Abderites to be unjust, and had directed that all those who were in servitude should be sought out and restored to liberty.