UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
munched the bones of the Carthaginians, trembled at the name of the Gaul. Even
the gods of the city were excited and sent forth omens and portents. The Capitol
was struck with lightning, and the Sibylline books were found to contain the
following prophecy; "Beware of the Gauls, when the lightning strikes the
Capitol." Another tradition of the augurs said that the Roman Forum should one
day be occupied by the Gauls and the Greeks. Then came the priests, and said that
the prophecy might be averted if two Greeks and two Gauls should be buried alive
in the Forum. So Superstition lifted her horrid spade, and Rome, who had
conquered Italy and faced Hamilcar's elephants, felt relieved when four innocent
human beings were entombed alive in her public square.
Nevertheless the Republic-so wise does human reason grow, even in the presence of
the priest-failed not to prepare what human agencies so ever she could, to meet
and repel the northern invaders. New legions were enrolled and sent to the front.
Every city was required to accumulate supplies and put itself in a position of
defense. And then, when all her preparations were complete, crafty Rome sent
emissaries among the Cenomani and Veneti, advising those nations, as soon as the
Gauls should begin the invasion of Italy, to fall upon their rear and despoil
The Roman army of defense was stationed at Ariminum, from which direction it was
expected that the attack of the Gauls would be made. The allied states joined
their contingents, and made common cause for the protection of their homes. The
Gauls, however, disappointed the expectation of the Roman consul, and, moving to
the west, advanced on Rome by an undefended highway. While making the advance,
they fell in with the reserves, who were on their way to join the army at
Ariminum, and inflicted on them a severe defeat. The surrounding districts were
then pillaged; but the barbarians, now laden with spoils, concluded to make good
what was already gained by carrying away their plunder into Cisalpine Gaul. By
this time, however, the consul Atilius Regulus, commanding at the north, was hard
on their track; and the other consul, having landed at Pisa, with his army
recently from Sardinia, intercepted the enemy's retreat. The Gauls were thus
hemmed between the two consular armies, and in a decisive battle at Telamon, were
utterly routed and dispersed.
Meanwhile, in B. G. 232, the question of the distribution of public lands was
again agitated, and led to the adoption of a new agrarian law. After the previous
victory gained over the Gauls at the Vadimonian lake, a large portion of the aged
publicus in Northern Italy had remained unoccupied. To preserve the quiet of
these regions the Romans had planted on the frontier the two important colonies
of Sena and Ariminum. In the year above mentioned, the tribune Caius Flaminlus
secured the passage of a law by which these public lands of the North were
distributed among the veterans of the army and the poorer classes of citizens.
The Senate, although that body had not for a long time claimed the right of
annulling an act of the people, violently opposed the adoption of the statute
proposed by Flaminius; but the measure was carried, and the public domain opened
to the occupation of colonists. The same tribune then signalized his
administration by the construction, as far as Ariminum, of the great military
road known as the Flaminian Way.
It was not to be expected that the Romans, after the overthrow of the Gauls,
would forbear to press their advantage by extending the dominions of the Republic
in the direction of the Alps. In B. C. 222, a successful campaign, conducted by
the consul Marcus Clatjdius Marcellus, was made against the Insubres, and their
capital, Mediolanum, was taken. Expeditions were then made in different
directions, until the whole valley of the Po was overrun, and the territorial
limit of Rome carried completely around the vast region of Cisalpine Gaul. To
secure these great conquests the two additional colonies of Placentia and Cremona
were established, and occupied by settlers from the capital.
While these movements were taking place in Italy, Demetrius, by whose
instrumentality the Romans had secured their foothold on the Illyrian coast,
renounced his alliance with