Already the summer was at an end and the time for the consular election at hand. But a letter from Marcellus, stating that it was against the public interest for him to move a step away from Hannibal, since he was himself pressing him hard
as he retired and refused an engagement, had inspired concern, for fear they must call the consul away from the war at the moment when he was actively
engaged, or else should be without consuls for the next year. It seemed best instead to recall the consul Valerius from Sicily, even though he was outside of Italy.
To Valerius under orders from the senate Lucius [p. 215]
Manlius, the city praetor, sent a letter, together with1
the letter of Marcus Marcellus, the consul, that from these letters Valerius might learn what reason the senators had for recalling him rather than his colleague from his province.
About the same time legates from King Syphax came to Rome, reporting what successes he had had in battle with the Carthaginians.
They stated that the king was not more hostile to any people than to the Carthaginian, nor more friendly to any than to the Roman people; that previously he had sent legates to Spain to Gnaeus and Publius Cornelius,2
the Roman generals; that now he was minded to seek Roman friendship, as it were at the very source.
The senate not only replied graciously to the legates, but also sent its legates, Lucius Genucius, Publius Poetelius, Publius Popillius, to the king with gifts.
They took with them as gifts a purple toga and tunic, an ivory chair,3
a golden patera
weighing five pounds. They were ordered to go on and visit other princes in Africa.
For these also they took with them bordered togas and golden paterae,
each of them three pounds in weight, to be presented to them.
Also to Alexandria as ambassadors to the monarchs, Ptolemy and Cleopatra,4
were sent Marcus Atilius and Manius Acilius, to call to mind and revive friendship with them. As gifts they carried for the king a purple toga and tunic, with an ivory chair, for the queen an embroidered palla and a purple cloak.
During the summer in which these events occurred [p. 217]
many portents were reported from neighbouring5
cities and from the country: that at Tusculum a lamb was born with an udder full of milk, and that the ridge of Jupiter's temple was struck by lightning and stripped of almost all its roofing;
that at Anagnia about the same time ground struck by lightning outside the gate burned for a day and a night without any fuel; and that at the crossroads6
near Anagnia, in the grove of Diana, birds deserted their nests in the trees;
that at Tarracina, in the sea not far from the harbour, serpents of remarkable size leaped about after the manner of fish at play;
that at Tarquinii a pig was born with a human face; and that in the territory of Capena, at the grove of Feronia,7
four statues sweated blood profusely for a day and a night. These prodigies were atoned for with full-grown victims by decree of the pontiffs.
And prayers were ordered for one day in Rome at all the pulvinaria,8
and for a second day at the grove of Feronia, in the territory of Capena.