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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. VI
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1954

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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(Vol. VI) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

Book XIV, 113‑117 (end)

 p303  113 1 At the time that Dionysius was besieging Rhegium, the Celts1 who had their homes in the regions beyond the Alps streamed through the passes in great strength and seized the territory that lay between the Apennine mountains and the Alps, expelling the Tyrrhenians who dwelt there. 2 These, according to some, were colonists from the twelve cities of Tyrrhenia; but others state that before the Trojan War Pelasgians fled from Thessaly to escape the flood of Deucalion's time and settled in this region. 3 Now it happened, when the Celts divided up the territory by tribes, that those known as the Sennones received the area which lay farthest from the mountains and along the sea. But since this region was scorching hot, they were distressed and eager to move; hence they armed their younger men and  p305 sent them out to seek a territory where they might settle. Now they invaded Tyrrhenia, and being in number some thirty thousand they sacked the territory of the Clusini.

4 At this very time the Roman people sent ambassadors2 into Tyrrhenia to spy out the army of the Celts. The ambassadors arrived at Clusium, and when they saw that a battle had been joined, with more valour than wisdom they joined the men of Clusium against their besiegers, 5 and one3 of the ambassadors was successful in killing a rather important commander. When the Celts learned of this, they dispatched ambassadors to Rome to demand the person of the envoy who had thus commenced an unjust war. 6 The senate at first sought to persuade the envoys of the Celts to accept money in satisfaction of the injury, but when they would not consider this, it voted to surrender the accused. But the father of the man to be surrendered, who was also one of the military tribunes with consular power, appealed the judgement to the people,4 and since he was a man of influence among the masses, he persuaded them to void the decision of the senate. 7 Now in the times previous to this the people had followed the senate in all matters; with this occasion they first began to rescind decisions of that body.

114 1 The ambassadors of the Celts returned to their camp and reported the reply of the Romans. At this they were greatly angered and, adding an army from their fellow tribesmen, they marched swiftly upon  p307 Rome itself, numbering more than seventy thousand men. The military tribunes of the Romans, exercising their special power, when they heard of the advance of the Celts, armed all the men of military age. 2 They then marched out in full force and, crossing the Tiber,5 led their troops for eighty stades along the river; and at news of the approach of the Galatians they drew up the army for battle. 3 Their best troops, to the number of twenty-four thousand, they set in a line from the river as far as the hills and on the highest hills they stationed the weakest. The Celts deployed their troops in a long line and, whether by fortune or design, stationed their choicest troops on the hills. 4 The trumpets on both sides sounded the charge at the same time and the armies joined in battle with great clamour. The élite troops of the Celts, who were opposed to the weakest soldiers of the Romans, easily drove them from the hills. 5 Consequently, as these fled in masses to the Romans on the plain, the ranks were thrown into confusion and fled in dismay before the attack of the Celts. Since the bulk of the Romans fled along the river and impeded one another by reason of their disorder, the Celts were not behind-hand in slaying again and again those who were last in line. Hence the entire plain was strewn with dead. 6 Of the men who fled to the river the bravest attempted to swim across with their arms, prizing their armour as highly as their lives; but since the stream ran strong, some of them were borne down to their death  p309 by the weight of the arms, and some, after being carried along for some distance, finally and after great effort got off safe. 7 But since the enemy pressed them hard and was making a great slaughter along the river, most of the survivors threw away their arms and swam across the Tiber.

115 1 The Celts, though they had slain great numbers on the bank of the river, nevertheless did not desist from the zest for glory but showered javelins upon the swimmers; and since many missiles were hurled and men were massed in the river, those who threw did not miss their mark. So it was that some died at once from mortal blows, and others, who were wounded only, were carried off unconscious because of loss of blood and the swift current. 2 When such disaster befell, the greater part of the Romans who escaped occupied the city of Veii, which had lately been razed by them, fortified the place as well as they could, and received the survivors of the rout. A few of those who had swum the river fled without their arms to Rome and reported that the whole army had perished. When word of such misfortunes as we have described was brought to those who had been left behind in the city, everyone fell into despair; 3 for they saw no possibility of resistance, now that all their youth had perished, and to flee with their children and wives was fraught with the greatest danger since the enemy were close at hand. Now many private citizens fled with their households to neighbouring cities, but the city magistrates, encouraging the populace, issued orders for them to bring speedily to the Capitoline grain and every other necessity.  p311 4 When this had been done, both the acropolis and the Capitoline were stored not only with supplies of food but with silver and gold and the costliest raiment, since the precious possessions had been gathered from over the whole city into one place. They gathered such valuables as they could and fortified the place we have mentioned during a respite of three days. 5 For the Celts spent the first day cutting off, according to their custom, the heads of the dead.6 And for two days they lay encamped before the city, for when they saw the walls deserted and yet heard the noise made by those who were transferring their most useful possessions to the acropolis, they suspected that the Romans were planning a trap for them. 6 But on the fourth day, after they had learned the true state of affairs, they broke down the gates and pillaged the city except for a few dwellings on the Palatine. After this they delivered daily assaults on strong positions, without, however, inflicting any serious hurt upon their opponents and with the loss of many of their own troops. Nevertheless, they did not relax their ardour, expecting that, even if they did not conquer by force, they would wear down the enemy in the course of time, when the necessities of life had entirely given out.

116 1 While the Romans were in such throes, the neighbouring Tyrrhenians advanced and made a raid with a strong army on the territory of the Romans, capturing many prisoners and not a small amount of booty. But the Romans who had fled to Veii, falling unexpectedly upon the Tyrrhenians, put them  p313 to flight, took back the booty, and captured their camp. 2 Having got possession of arms in abundance, they distributed them among the unarmed, and they also gathered men from the countryside and armed them, since they intended to relieve the siege of the soldiers who had taken refuge on the Capitoline. 3 While they were at a loss how they might reveal their plans to the besieged, since the Celts had surrounded them with strong forces, a certain Cominius Pontius undertook to get the cheerful news to the men on the Capitoline. 4 Starting out alone and swimming the river by night, he got unseen to a cliff of the Capitoline that was hard to climb and, hauling himself up it with difficulty, told the soldiers on the Capitoline about the troops that had been collected in Veii and how they were watching for an opportunity and would attack the Celts. Then, descending by the way he had mounted and swimming the Tiber, he returned to Veii. 5 The Celts, when they observed the tracks of one who had recently climbed up, made plans to ascend at night by the same cliff. Consequently about the middle of the night, while the guards were neglectful of their watch because of the strength of the place, some Celts started an ascent of the cliff. 6 They escaped detection by the guards, but the sacred geese of Hera, which were kept there, noticed the climbers and set up a cackling. The guards rushed to the place and the Celts deterred did not dare proceed farther. A certain Marcus Mallius, a man held in high esteem, rushing to the defence of the place, cut off the hand of the climber with his sword and, striking him on the breast with his shield, rolled him from the cliff. 7 In like manner the second climber  p315 met his death, whereupon the rest all quickly turned in flight. But since the cliff was precipitous they were all hurled headlong and perished. As a result of this, when the Romans sent ambassadors to negotiate a peace, they were persuaded, upon receipt of one thousand pounds of gold, to leave the city and to withdraw from Roman territory.

8 The Romans, now that their houses had been razed to the ground and the majority of their citizens slain, gave permission to anyone who wished to build a home in any place he chose, and supplied him at state expense with roof-tiles; and up to the present time these are known as "public tiles." 9 Since every man naturally built his home where it suited his fancy, the result was that the streets of the city were narrow and crooked; consequently, when the population increased in later days, it was impossible to straighten the streets. Some also say that the Roman matrons, because they contributed their gold ornaments to the common safety, received from the people as a reward the right to ride through the city in chariots.

117 1 While the Romans were in a weakened condition because of the misfortune we have described, the Volscians went to war against them. Accordingly the Roman military tribunes enrolled soldiers, took the field with their army, and pitched camp on the Campus Martius, as it is called, two hundred stades distant from Rome. 2 Since the Volscians lay over against them with a larger force and were assaulting the camp, the citizens in Rome, fearing for the safety of those in the encampment, appointed Marcus Furius dictator.7 . . . 3 These armed all the men of military  p317 age and marched out during the night. At day-break they caught the Volscians as they were assaulting the camp, and appearing on their rear easily put them to flight. When the troops in the camp then sallied forth, the Volscians were caught in the middle and cut down almost to a man. Thus a people that passed for powerful in former days was by this disaster reduced to the weakest among the neighbouring tribes.

4 After the battle the dictator, on hearing that Bola was being besieged by the Aeculani,8 who are now called the Aequicoli, led forth his troops and slew most of the besieging army. From here he marched to the territory of Sutrium, a Roman colony, which the Tyrrhenians had forcibly occupied. Falling unexpectedly upon the Tyrrhenians, he slew many of them and recovered the city for the people of Sutrium.

5 The Gauls on their way from Rome laid siege to the city of Veascium which was an ally of the Romans. The dictator attacked them, slew the larger number of them, and got possession of all their baggage, included in which was the gold which they had received for Rome and practically all the booty which they had gathered in the seizure of the city. 6 Despite the accomplishment of such great deeds, envy on the part of the tribunes prevented his celebrating a triumph. There are some, however, who state that he celebrated a triumph for his victory over the Tuscans in a chariot drawn by four white horses, for which the people two years later fined him a large  p319 sum of money. But we shall recur to this in the appropriate period of time.9 7 Those Celts who had passed into Iapygia turned back through the territory of the Romans; but soon thereafter the Cerii made a crafty attack on them by night and cut all of them to pieces in the Trausian Plain.

8 The historian Callisthenes10 began his history with the peace of this year between the Greeks and Artaxerxes, the King of the Persians. His account embraced a period of thirty years in ten Books and he closed the last Book of his history with the seizure of the Temple of Delphi by Philomelus the Phocian. 9 But for our part, since we have arrived at the peace between the Greeks and Artaxerxes, and at the threat to Rome offered by the Gauls, we shall make this the end of this Book, as we proposed at the beginning.11

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 There are two other extended descriptions of the Gallic invasion of Rome, in Livy, 5.34‑39 and in Plutarch, Camillus, 16‑29. The account by Diodorus is by far the most reliable (cp. Beloch, Römische Geschichte, pp311 ff.; Schwegler-Baur, 3, pp234 ff.).

2 Three, all of the Fabian gens.

3 Quintus Fabius Ambustus.

4 An instance of the famous provocatio ad populum.

5 Diodorus is the only ancient writer who places this battle of the Allia on the right, and not the left, bank of the Tiber.

6 Cp. Book 5.29.4‑5.

7 The famous Marcus Furius Camillus. The name of his master of horse, C. Servilius Ahala (Livy, 6.2.5‑6), has slipped from the text.

8 Otherwise the Aequi.

9 There is no later mention of this story.

10 Callisthenes of Olynthus was better known for his history of Alexander the Great, whom he accompanied on his campaign until he lost the king's favour and was executed shortly after 327 B.C.

11 Cp. chap. 2.4.

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