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That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in such a disaster, by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. The emperor promised ten million sesterces, and remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer or to the emperor's purse. Magnesia, under Mount Sipylus, was considered to come next in loss and in need of help. The people of Temnus, Philadelpheia, Aegae, Apollonis, the Mostenians, and Hyrcanian Macedonians, as they were called, with the towns of Hierocæsarea, Myrina, Cyme, and Tmolus, were, it was decided, to be exempted from tribute for the same time, and some one was to be sent from the Senate to examine their actual condition and to relieve them. Marcus Aletus, one of the ex-prætors, was chosen, from a fear that, as an ex-consul was governor of Asia, there might be rivalry between men of equal rank, and consequent embarrassment.