The disasters of the early part of the second Punic War revealed an unparalleled religious nervousness: portents and prodigies were announced from all quarters, it was felt that the divine anger was on the state, yet there was no belief in the efficacy of the old methods for restoring the pax deum.
Accounts of omens, portents, prodigies and other remarkable things apparently took up a considerable portion of the work.
Strange portents and warning phantasms did not check James: he sent forth a fleet of thirteen ships and 3000 men, which faded into nothingness: he declared war on Henry; and on the 22nd of August he crossed the border with all his force, including the highlanders and islesmen.
Sentiment and tradition have magnified his achievements, and confused his career with tales of portents and magical powers.
In the former class he places supernatural beings (including men with man y as well as ghosts and spirits), blood, new-born children with their mothers, and corpses; which list might be considerably extended, for instance, by the inclusion of natural portents, and animals and plants such as are strikingly odd, dangerous or useful.