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This webpage reproduces one of
The Parallel Lives


published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. II) Plutarch, The Parallel Lives

 p95  The Life of Camillus

1 1 Turning now to Furius Camillus, among the many notable things that are told of him, this seems the most singular and strange, namely, that although in other offices of command he won many and great successes, and although he was five times chosen dictator, four times celebrated a triumph, and was styled a Second Founder of Rome, not even once was he consul. 2 The reason for this lay in the political conditions of his time. The common people, being at variance with the Senate, strove against the appointment of consuls, and elected military tribunes to the command instead. These, although they had always acted with consular authority and power, were less obnoxious in their sway because of their number. For the fact that six men instead of two stood at the head of affairs, was some comfort to those who were bitterly set against the rule of the few.

3 Now it was at this period that Camillus came to the height of his achievements and fame, and he would not consent to become consul over a reluctant people, although during his career the city tolerated consular elections many times. But in the many other and varied offices which he held, he so conducted himself that even when the authority rightly  p97 belonged to him alone, it was exercised in common with others; while the glory that followed such exercise was his alone, even when he shared the command. In the first case, it was his moderation that kept his rule from exciting envy; in the second, it was his ability that gave him the first place with none to dispute it.

2 1 At a time when the house of the Furii was not yet very conspicuous, he, by his own efforts, was the first of his clan to achieve fame. This he did in the great battle with the Aequians and Volscians, serving under Postumius Tubertus the dictator. Dashing out on his horse in front of the army, he did not abate his speed when he got a wound in the thigh, but dragging the missile along with him in its wound, he engaged the bravest of the enemy and put them to flight. 2 For this exploit, among other honours bestowed upon him, he was appointed censor, in those days an office of great dignity. There is on record a noble achievement of his censor­ship, that of bringing the unmarried men, partly by persuasion and partly by threatening them with fines, to join in wedlock with the women who were living in widowhood, and these were many because of the wars; likewise a necessary achievement, that of making the orphans, who before this had contributed nothing to the support of the state, subject to taxation. 3 The continuous campaigns, demanding great outlays of money, really required this. Especially burdensome was the siege of Veii (some call the people Veientani).

This city was the barrier and bulwark of Tuscany, in quantity of arms and multitude of soldiery no whit inferior to Rome. Indeed, pluming herself on her wealth, and on the refinement, luxury,  p99 and sumptuousness in which her citizens lived, she had waged many noble contests for glory and power in her wars with the Romans. 4 At this time, however, she had been crushed in great battles, and had given up her former ambitious pretensions. But her people built their walls high and strong, filled the city full of armour, missiles, grain, and every possible provision, and confidently endured their siege, which, though long, was no less laborious and difficult for the besiegers. 5 These had been accustomed to short campaigns abroad as the summer season opened, and to winters at home; but then for the first time they had been compelled by their tribunes to build forts and fortify their camp and spend both summer and winter in the enemy's country, the seventh year of the war being now nearly at an end. For this their rulers were held to blame, and finally deprived of their rule, because they were thought to conduct the siege without energy. Others were chosen to carry on the war, and one of these was Camillus, now tribune for the second time. 6 But for the present he had nothing to do with the siege, since it fell to his lot to wage war with the Falerians and the Capenates, who, while the Romans had their hands full, had often harried their territory, and during all the Tuscan war had given them annoyance and trouble. These were overwhelmed by Camillus in battle and shut up in their fastnesses with great loss of life.

3 1 And now, when the war was at its climax, the calamity of the Alban lake added its terrors. It seemed a most incredible prodigy, without familiar cause or natural explanation. For the season was autumn, and the summer just ended had, to all  p101 observation, been neither rainy nor vexed by south winds. 2 Of the lakes, rivers, and streams of all sizes with which Italy abounds, some had failed utterly, others barely managed to hold out, and all the rivers ran low, between high banks, as was always the case in summer. But the Alban lake, which had its source and outlet within itself, and was girt about with fertile mountains, for no reason, except it be that heaven willed it, was observed to increase and swell until it reached the skirts of the mountains and gradually touched their highest ridges. All this rise was without surge or billow. 3 At first it was a prodigy for neighbouring shepherds and herdsmen. But when the volume and weight of water broke away the barrier which, like an isthmus, had kept the lake from the country lying below it, and a huge torrent poured down through the fields and vineyards and made its way to the sea, then not only were the Romans themselves dismayed, but all the inhabitants of Italy thought it a sign of no small evil to come. There was much talk about it in the army that was besieging Veii, so that even the besieged themselves heard of the calamity.

4 1 As was to be expected in a long siege requiring many meetings for conference with the enemy, it fell out that a certain Roman became intimate and confidential with one of the citizens of Veii, a man versed in ancient oracles, and reputed wiser than the rest from his being a diviner. The Roman saw that this man, on hearing the story of the lake, was overjoyed and made mock of the siege. He therefore told  p103 him this was not the only wonder which the passing days had brought, but that other and stranger signs than this had been given to the Romans, of which he was minded to tell him, in order that, if possible, he might better his own private case in the midst of the public distresses. 2 The man gave eager hearing to all this, and consented to a conference, supposing that he was going to hear some deep secrets. But the Roman led him along little by little, conversing as he went, until they were some way beyond the city gate, when he seized him boldly, being a sturdier man than he, and with the help of comrades who came running up from the camp, mastered him completely and handed him over to the generals. 3 Thus constrained, and perceiving that fate's decrees were not to be evaded, the man revealed secret oracles regarding his native city, to the effect that it could not be captured until the Alban lake, after leaving its bed and making new channels for itself, should be driven back by the enemy, deflected from its course, and prevented from mingling with the sea.

4 The Senate, on hearing this, was at great loss what to do, and thought it well to send an embassy to Delphi to consult the god. The envoys were men of great repute and influence, Cossus Licinius, Valerius Potitus, and Fabius Ambustus, who made their voyage and came back with the responses of the god. One of these told them that certain ancestral rites connected with the so‑called Latin festivals had been unduly neglected; 5 another bade them by all means to keep the water of the Alban lake away from the sea and force it back into its ancient bed, or, if they could not effect this, by means of canals and trenches to divert it into the  p105 plain and dissipate it. On receipt of these responses the priests performed the neglected sacrifices, and the people sallied out into the fields and diverted the course of the water.

5 1 In the tenth year of the war,​1 the Senate abolished the other magistracies and appointed Camillus dictator. After choosing Cornelius Scipio as his master of horse, in the first place he made solemn vows to the gods that, in case the war had a glorious ending, he would celebrate the great games in their honour, and dedicate a temple to a goddess whom the Romans call Mater Matuta.

2 From the sacred rites used in the worship of this goddess, she might be held to be almost identical with Leucothea. The women bring a serving-maid into the sanctuary and beat her with rods, then drive her forth again; they embrace their nephews and nieces in preference to their own children; and their conduct at the sacrifice resembles that of the nurses of Dionysus, or that of Ino under the afflictions put upon her by her husband's concubine.

After his vows, Camillus invaded the country of the Faliscans and conquered them in a great battle, together with the Capenates who came up to their aid. 3 Then he turned to the siege of Veii, and seeing that direct assault upon the city was a grievous and difficult matter, he went to digging mines, since the region round the city favoured such works, and allowed their being carried to a great depth without the enemy's knowing about it. So then, when his hopes were well on their way to fulfilment, he himself assaulted the city from the outside, and thus called the enemy  p107 away to man their walls; while others secretly made their way along the mines and reached unnoticed the interior of the citadel, where the temple of Juno stood, the largest temple in the city, and the one most held in honour.

4 There, it is said, at this very juncture, the commander of the Tuscans chanced to be sacrificing, and his seer, when he beheld the entrails of the victim, cried out with a loud voice and said that the god awarded victory to him who should fulfill that sacrifice. The Romans in the mines below, hearing this utterance, quickly tore away the pavement of the temple and issued forth with battle cries and clash of arms, whereat the enemy were terrified and fled away. The sacrificial entrails were then seized and carried to Camillus. 5 But possibly this will seem like fable.

At any rate the city was taken by storm, and the Romans were pillaging and plundering its boundless wealth, when Camillus, seeing from the citadel what was going on, at first burst into tears as he stood, and then, on being congratulated by the bystanders, lifted up his hands to the gods and prayed, saying: 6 "O greatest Jupiter, and ye gods who see and judge men's good and evil deeds, ye surely know that it is not unjustly, but of necessity and in self-defence that we Romans have visited this iniquity upon this city of hostile and lawless men. But if, as counterpoise to this our present success, some retribution is due to come upon us, spare, I beseech you, the city and the army of the Romans, and let it fall upon my own head, though with as little harm as may be."  p109 7 With these words, as the Romans' custom is after prayer and adoration, he wheeled himself about to the right, but stumbled and fell as he turned. The bystanders were confounded, but he picked himself up again from his fall and said: "My prayer is granted! a slight fall is my atonement for the greatest good fortune."

6 1 After he had utterly sacked the city, he determined to transfer the image of Juno to Rome, in accordance with his vows. The workmen were assembled for the purpose, and Camillus was sacrificing and praying the goddess to accept of their zeal and to be a kindly co-dweller with the gods of Rome, when the image, they say, spoke in low tones and said she was ready and willing. 2 But Livy​2 says that Camillus did indeed lay his hand upon the goddess and pray and beseech her, but that it was certain of the bystanders who gave answer that she was ready and willing and eager to go along with him.

Those who insist upon and defend the marvel have a most power­ful advocate for their contention in the fortune of the city, which, from its small and despised beginning, could never have come to such a pinnacle of glory and power had God not dwelt with her and made many great manifestations of himself from time to time. 3 Moreover, they adduce other occurrences of a kindred sort, such as statues often dripping with sweat, images uttering audible groans, turning away their faces, and closing their eyes, as not a few historians in the past have written. And we ourselves might make mention of many astonishing things which we  p111 have heard from men of our own time, — things not lightly to be despised. 4 But in such matters eager credulity and excessive incredulity are alike dangerous, because of the weakness of our human nature, which sets no limits and has no mastery over itself, but is carried away now into vain superstition, and now into contemptuous neglect of the gods. Caution is best, and to go to no extremes.

7 1 Whether it was due to the magnitude of his exploit in taking a city which could vie with Rome and endure a siege of ten years, or to the congratulations showered upon him, Camillus was lifted up to vanity, cherished thoughts far from becoming to a civil magistrate subject to the law, and celebrated a triumph with great pomp: he actually had four white horses harnessed to a chariot on which he mounted and drove through Rome, a thing which no commander had ever done before or afterwards did. For they thought such a car sacred and devoted to the king and father of the gods. 2 In this way he incurred the enmity of the citizens, who were not accustomed to wanton extravagance. They had also a second grievance against him in that he opposed himself to a law dividing the city. The tribunes introduced a measure dividing the people and the Senate into two parts, one to remain and dwell there, and the one on which the lot fell to remove into the city they had captured, on the ground that they would thus be more commodiously bestowed, and with two large and fair cities could better protect their territory as well as their prosperity in general. 3 Accordingly the people, which was now become numerous and poor, welcomed the measure  p113 with delight, and was for ever thronging tumultuously about the rostra with demands that it be put to vote. But the Senate and the most influential of the other citizens considered that the measure proposed by the tribunes meant not division but destruction for Rome, and in their aversion to it went to Camillus for aid and succour. 4 He, dreading the struggle, always contrived to keep the people busy with other matters, and so staved off the passage of the bill. For this reason, then, they were vexed with him.

But the strongest and most apparent reason why the multitude hated him was based on the matter of the tenth of the spoil of Veii, and herein they had a plausible, though not a very just ground of complaint. 5 He had vowed, as it seems, on setting out against Veii, that if he should take the city, he would consecrate the tenth of its booty to the Delphian god. But after the city had been taken and sacked, he allowed his soldiers full enjoyment of their plunder, either because he shrank from annoying them, or because, in the multitude of his activities, he as good as forgot his vow. At a later time, when he had laid down his command, he referred the matter to the Senate, and the seers announced tokens in their sacrifices that the gods were angry, and must be propitiated with due offerings.

8 1 The Senate voted, not that the booty should be redistributed, for that would have been a difficult matter, but that those who had got it should, in person and under oath, bring the tenth thereof to the public treasury. This subjected the soldiers to  p115 many vexations and constraints. They were poor men, who had toiled hard, and yet were now forced to contribute a large share of what they had gained, yes, and spent already. 2 Beset by their tumultuous complaints, and at loss for a better excuse, Camillus had recourse to the absurdest of all explanations, and admitted that he had forgotten his vow. The soldiers were filled with indignation at the thought that it was the goods of the enemy of which he had once vowed a tithe, but the goods of his fellow citizens from which he was now paying the tithe. However, all of them brought in the necessary portion, and it was decided to make a bowl of massive gold and send it to Delphi. 3 Now there was a scarcity of gold in the city, and the magistrates knew not whence it could be had. So the women, of their own accord, determined to give the gold ornaments which they wore upon their persons for the offering, and these amounted to eight talents weight. The women were fittingly rewarded by the Senate, which voted that thereafter, when women died, a suitable eulogy should be spoken over them, as over men. For it was not customary before that time, when a woman died, that a public encomium should be pronounced. 4 Then they chose three of the noblest citizens as envoys, manned with its full complement of their best sailors a ship of war decked out in festal array, and sent them on their way.

Calm at sea has its perils as well as storm, it would seem, at least so it proved in this case. Envoys and crew came within an ace of destruction, and found escape from their peril when they least expected it. Off the Aeolian isles, as the wind died down, some Liparian galleys put out against them, taking them  p117 for pirates. 5 The enemy had sufficient regard to their prayers and supplications not to run their vessel down, but they took it in tow, brought it to land, and proclaimed their goods and persons for sale, adjudging them piratical. At last, and with much ado, through the brave intercession of a single man, Timesitheus, their general, the Liparians were persuaded to let the captives go. This man then launched boats of his own, convoyed the suppliants on their way, and assisted them in the dedication of their offering. For this he received suitable honours at Rome.

9 1 Once more the tribunes of the people urged the passage of the law for the division of the city, but the war with the Faliscans came on opportunely and gave the leading men occasion to hold such elective assemblies as they wished, and to appoint Camillus military tribune, with five others. The emergency was thought to demand a leader with the dignity and reputation which experience alone could give. 2 After the people had ratified the election, Camillus, at the head of his army, invaded the territory of the Faliscans and laid siege to Falerii, a strong city, and well equipped with all the munitions of war. It was not that he thought its capture would demand slight effort or short time, but he wished to turn the thoughts of the citizens to other matters and keep them busy therein, that they might not be able to stay at home and become the prey of seditious leaders. This was a fitting and sovereign remedy which the Romans used, like good physicians, thereby expelling from the body politic its troublesome distempers.

10 1 The Falerians, relying on the great strength of  p119 their city at all points, made so light of the siege that, with the exception of the defenders of the walls, the rest went up and down the city in their garb of peace. The boys went to school as usual, and were brought by their teacher along the walls outside to walk about and get their exercise. For the Falerians, like the Greeks, employed one teacher in common, wishing their boys, from the very start, to herd with one another and grow up together. 2 This teacher, then, wishing to betray Falerii by means of its boys, led them out every day beyond the city walls, at first only a little way, and then brought them back inside when they had taken their exercise. Presently he led them, little by little, farther and farther out, accustomed them to feel confident that there was no danger at all, and finally pushed in among the Roman outposts with his whole company, handed them over to the enemy, and demanded to be led to Camillus. 3 So led, and in that presence, he said he was a boys' school-teacher, but chose rather to win the general's favour than to fulfil the duties of his office, and so had come bringing to him the city in the persons of its boys. It seemed to Camillus, on hearing him, that the man had done a monstrous deed, and turning to the bystanders he said: "War is indeed a grievous thing, and is waged with much injustice and violence; 4 but even war has certain laws which good and brave men will respect, and we must not so hotly pursue victory as not to flee the favours of base and impious doers. The great general will wage war relying on his own native valour, not on the baseness of other men." Then he ordered his attendants to tear the man's clothing from him, tie  p121 his arms behind his back, and put rods and scourges in the hands of the boys, that they might chastise the traitor and drive him back into the city.

5 The Falerians had just become aware of the teacher's treachery, and the whole city, as was natural, was filled with lamentation over a calamity so great. Men and women alike rushed distractedly to the walls and gates, when lo! there came the boys, bringing their teacher back stripped, bound, and maltreated, while they called Camillus their saviour, their father, and their god. 6 On this wise not only the parents of the boys, but the rest of the citizens as well, when they beheld the spectacle, were seized with admiration and longing for the righteousness of Camillus. In haste they held an assembly and sent envoys to him, entrusting him with their lives and fortunes. These envoys Camillus sent to Rome. 7 Standing in the Senate, they declared that the Romans, by esteeming righteousness above victory, had taught them to love defeat above freedom; not so much because they thought themselves inferior in strength, as because they confessed themselves vanquished in virtue. On the Senate's remanding to Camillus the decision and disposition of the matter, he took a sum of money from the Falerians, established friendship with all the Faliscans, and withdrew.

11 1 But the soldiers thought to have had the sacking of Falerii, and when they came back to Rome empty-handed, they denounced Camillus to the rest of the citizens as a hater of the common people, and as begrudging to the poor the enjoyment of their rightful booty. And when the tribunes once more put forward the law for the division of the city  p123 and summoned the people to vote upon it, then Camillus, shunning no hatred nor any boldness of utterance, was manifestly the chief one in forcing the multitude away from its desires. Therefore, they did indeed reject the law, much against their will, 2 but they were wroth with Camillus, so that even when he met with domestic affliction and lost one of his two sons by sickness, their wrath was in no wise softened by pity. And yet he set no bounds to his sorrow, being by nature a gentle and kindly man, but even after the indictment against him had been published, he suffered his grief to keep him at home, in close seclusion with the women of his household.

12 1 Well, then, his accuser was Lucius Apuleius, and the charge was theft of Tuscan goods. It was said, forsooth, that certain bronze doors belonging to the booty had been seen at his house. But the people were exasperated, and would plainly lay hold of any pretext whatever for condemning him. 2 So then he assembled his friends and comrades in arms, who were many in number, and begged them not to suffer him to be convicted on base charges and to be made a laughing-stock by his foes. When his friends had laid their heads together and discussed the case, they answered that, as regarded his trial, they thought they could be of no help to him; but if he were punished with a fine, they would help him pay it. This he could not endure, and in his wrath determined to depart the city and go into exile. 3 Accordingly, after he had kissed his wife and son good-bye, he went from his house in silence as far as the gate of the city. There he stopped, turned himself about, and stretching his hands out towards  p125 the Capitol, prayed the gods that, if with no justice, but through the wantonness of the people and the abuse of the envious he was now being driven from his country, the Romans might speedily repent, and show to all men that they needed and longed for Camillus.

13 1 After he had thus, like Achilles,​3 invoked curses upon his fellow citizens, he removed from out the city. His case went by default, and he was fined fifteen thousand asses.

This sum, reduced to our money, is fifteen hundred drachmas. For the as was the current copper coin, and the silver coin worth ten of these pieces was for that reason called the denarius, which is equivalent to the drachma.

2 Now there is no Roman who does not believe that justice followed hard upon the imprecations of Camillus, and that he received a requital for his wrongs which was not pleasing to him, but painful: certainly it was notable and famous. For a great retribution encompassed Rome, and a season of dire destruction and peril not unmixed with disgrace assailed the city, whether fortune so brought things to pass, or whether it is the mission of some god not to neglect virtue that goes unrequited.

14 1 In the first place, then, it seemed to be a sign of great evil impending when Julius the censor died. For the Romans specially revere and hold sacred the office of censor. In the second place, before Camillus went into exile, a man who was not conspicuous, to be sure, but who was esteemed honest and kindly, Marcus Caedicius, informed the military tribunes of a matter well worth their attention.  p127 2 He said that during the night just passed, as he was going along the so‑called New Street, he was hailed by someone in clear tones, and turned, and saw no man, but heard a voice louder than man's saying: "Hark thou! Marcus Caedicius, early in the morning go and tell the magistrates that within a little time they must expect the Gauls." At this story the tribunes mocked and jested. And a little while after, Camillus suffered his disgrace.

15 1 The Gauls were of the Celtic stock, and their numbers were such, as it is said, that they abandoned their own country, which was not able to sustain them all, and set out in quest of another. They were many myriads of young warriors, and they took along with them a still greater number of women and children. Some of them crossed the Rhipaean mountains, streamed off towards the northern ocean, and occupied the remotest parts of Europe; 2 others settled between the Pyrenees and the Alps, near the Senones and the Celtorians, and dwelt there a long time. But at last they got a taste of wine, which was then for the first time brought them from Italy. They admired the drink so much, and were all so beside themselves with the novel pleasure which it gave, that they seized their arms, took along their families, and made off to the Alps, in quest of the land which produced such fruit, considering the rest of the world barren and wild.

3 The man who introduced wine to them, and was first and foremost in sharpening their appetite for Italy, is said to have been Arron, a Tuscan. He was a man of prominence, and by nature not prone to evil, but had met with the following misfortune. He was guardian of an orphan boy who was heir to  p129 the greatest wealth in the city, and of amazing beauty, Lucumo by name. This Lucumoº from his youth up had lived with Arron, and when he came to man's estate, did not leave his house, but pretended to take delight in his society. He had, however, corrupted Arron's wife, and been corrupted by her, and for a long time kept the thing a secret. 4 But at last the passions of both culprits increased upon them so that they could neither put away their desires nor longer hide them, wherefore the young man made open attempt to remove the woman and have her to wife. Her husband brought the case to trial, but was defeated by Lucumo, owing to the multitude of his friends and his lavish outlays of money, and forsook the city. Learning about the Gauls, he betook himself to them, and led them on their expedition to Italy.

16 1 The Gauls burst in and straightway mastered all the country which the Tuscans occupied of old, namely, that stretching from the Alps down to both seas, the names of which bear witness to the story. For the northern sea is called Adria, from the Tuscan city of Adria; the southern is called outright the Tuscan Sea. 2 This whole country is studded with trees, has excellent pasturage for flocks and herds, and an abundance of rivers. It had also eighteen cities, large and fair, well equipped for profitable commerce and for sumptuous living. These the Gauls took away from the Tuscans and occupied themselves. But this happened long before the time of which I speak.

17 1 At this time the Gauls had marched against the Tuscan city of Clusium and were laying siege to it. The Clusians applied for assistance to the  p131 Romans, and begged them to send ambassadors in their behalf with a letter to the Barbarians. So there were sent three men of the Fabian gens who were of great repute and honour in the city. 2 The Gauls received them courteously, because of the name of Rome, ceased their attacks upon the city walls, and held conference with them. When they were asked what wrong they had suffered at the hands of the Clusians that they had come up against their city, Brennus, the king of the Gauls, burst into a laugh and said: "The Clusians wrong us in that, being able to till only a small parcel of earth, they yet are bent on holding a large one, and will not share it with us, who are strangers, many in number and poor. 3 This is the wrong which ye too suffered, O Romans, formerly at the hands of the Albans, Fidenates, and Ardeates, and now lately at the hands of the Veientines, Capenates, and many of the Faliscans and Volscians. Ye march against these peoples, and if they will not share their goods with you, ye enslave them, despoil them, and raze their cities to the ground; not that in so doing ye are in any wise cruel or unjust, 4 nay, ye are but obeying that most ancient of laws which gives to the stronger the goods of his weaker neighbours, the world over, beginning with God himself and ending with the beasts that perish. For these too are so endowed by nature that the stronger seeks to have more than the weaker. Cease ye, therefore, to pity the Clusians when we besiege them, that ye may not teach the Gauls to be kind and full of pity towards those who are wronged by the Romans."

5 From this speech the Roman envoys saw that there was no coming to terms with Brennus, and so they  p133 slipped into Clusium, and emboldened and incited its citizens to sally out against the Barbarians with them, either because they wished to discover the prowess of those warriors or display their own. The Clusians made a sally, and in the fight which raged along the walls one of the Fabii, Quintus Ambustus, drove his horse straight at a stately and handsome Gaul who was riding far out in front of the rest. At first he was not recognized, because the conflict came swiftly to pass and his dazzling armour hid his face. 6 But when he had conquered and unhorsed his foe and was stripping his arms from him, then Brennus recognized him, and called upon the gods to witness how, contrary to the general practice of all mankind, which was deemed just and holy, he had come as an ambassador, but had wrought as an enemy. Then, putting a stop to the battle, he straightway let the Clusians alone, and led his host against Rome. But not wishing to have it thought that his people were rejoiced at the outrage, and only wanted some pretext for war, he sent and demanded the offender for punishment, and in the meantime advanced but slowly.

18 1 When the Senate convened in Rome, many denounced the Fabii, and especially the priests called Fetiales were instant in calling upon the Senate in the name of all the gods to turn the curse of what had been done upon the one guilty man, and so to make expiation for the rest.

These Fetiales were instituted by Numa Pompilius, gentlest and justest of kings, to be the guardians of peace, as well as judges and determiners of the grounds on which war could justly be made.

 p135  2 The Senate referred the matter to the people, and although the priests with one accord denounced Fabius, the multitude so scorned and mocked at religion as to appoint him military tribune, along with his brothers. The Gauls, on learning this, were wroth, and suffered nothing to impede their haste, but advanced with all speed. 3 What with their numbers, the splendour of their equipment, and their furious violence, they struck terror wherever they came. Men thought the lands about their cities lost already, and their cities sure to follow at once. But contrary to all expectation the enemy did them no harm, nor took aught from their fields, but even as they passed close by their cities shouted out that they were marching on Rome and warred only on the Romans, but held the rest as friends.

4 Against this onset of the Barbarians the military tribunes led the Romans forth to battle. They were not inferior in numbers, being no fewer than forty thousand men-at‑arms, but most of them were untrained, and had never handled weapons before. Besides, they had neglected all religious rites, having neither sacrificed with good omens, nor consulted the prophets as was meet before the perils of battle. 5 But what most of all confounded their undertakings was the number of their commanders. And yet before this, and on the brink of lesser struggles, they had often chosen a single commander, with the title of Dictator, not unaware how great an advantage it is, when confronting a dangerous crisis, to be of one mind in paying obedience to an authority which is absolute, and holds the scales of justice in its own hands. 6 Moreover, their unfair treatment of Camillus  p137 was in no slight degree fatal to discipline, since it was now dangerous to hold command without paying regard to the pleasure and caprice of the people.

They advanced from the city about eleven miles, and encamped along the river Allia, not far from its confluence with the Tiber. There the Barbarians came suddenly upon them, and after a disorderly and shameful struggle, they were routed. 7 Their left wing was at once driven into the river by the Gauls and destroyed; their right wing was less cut up, because it withdrew before the enemy's onset from the plain to the hills, from which most of them made their way back to the city. The rest, as many as escaped the enemy's hands, which were weary with slaughter, fled by night to Veii. They thought that Rome was lost and all her people slain.

19 1 The battle​4 took place just after the summer solstice when the moon was near the full,​a on the very day of a former great disaster, when three hundred men of the Fabian gens had been cut to pieces by the Tuscans. But the second defeat was so much the worse that the day on which it fell is called down to the present time "dies Alliensis," from the river.

Now concerning "dies nefasti," or unlucky days, whether we must regard some as such, or whether Heracleitus was right in rebuking Hesiod for calling some days good and some bad, in his ignorance that the nature of every day is one and the same, — this question has been fully discussed elsewhere. 2 Still, even in what I am now writing, the mention of a few  p139 examples may not be amiss. To begin with, then, it was on the fifth day of the month of Hippodromius (which the Athenians call Hecatombaeon) that the Boeotians won two illustrious victories which set the Greeks free: that at Leuctra, and that at Ceressus more than two hundred years earlier, when they conquered Lattamyas and the Thessalians. 3 Again, on the sixth day of the month of Boedromion the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon, on the third day at Plataea and Mycale together, and on the twenty-sixth day at Arbela. Moreover, it was about full moon of the same month that the Athenians won their sea-fight off Naxos, under the command of Chabrias, and about the twentieth, that at Salamis, as has been set forth in my treatise "On days."​b 4 Further, the month of Thargelion has clearly been a disastrous one for the Barbarians, for in that month the generals of the King were conquered by Alexander at the Granicus, and on the twenty-fourth of the month the Carthaginians were worsted by Timoleon off Sicily. On this day, too, of Thargelion, it appears that Ilium was taken, as Ephorus, Callisthenes, Damastes, and Phylarchus have stated. 5 Contrarywise, the month of Metageitnion (which the Boeotians call Panemus) has not been favourable to the Greeks. On the seventh of this month they were worsted by Antipater in the battle of Crannon, and utterly undone; before this they had fought Philip unsuccess­fully at Chaeroneia on that day of the month; and in the same year, and on the same day of Metageitnion, Archidamus and his army, who had crossed into Italy, were cut to pieces by the Barbarians there.  p141 6 The Carthaginians also regard with fear the twenty-second of this month, because it has ever brought upon them the worst and greatest of their misfortunes.

I am not unaware that, at about the time when the mysteries are celebrated, Thebes was razed to the ground for the second time by Alexander, and that afterwards the Athenians were forced to receive a Macedonian garrison on the twentieth of Boedromion, the very day on which they escort the mystic Iacchus forth in procession. 7 And likewise the Romans, on the self-same day, saw their army under Caepio destroyed by the Cimbri, and later, when Lucullus was their general, conquered Tigranes and the Armenians. Both King Attalus and Pompey the Great died on their own birth-days. In short, one can adduce many cases where the same times and seasons have brought opposite forces upon the same men.

8 But this day of the Allia is regarded by the Romans as one of the unluckiest, and its influence extends over two other days of each month throughout the year, since in the presence of calamity, timidity and superstition often overflow all bounds. However, this subject has been more carefully treated in my "Roman Questions."5

20 1 Now had the Gauls, after this battle, followed hard upon the fugitives, naught would have hindered Rome from being utterly destroyed and all those who remained in her from perishing, such was the terror which the fugitives infused into the occupants of the city, and with such confusion and delirium were they themselves once more filled. 2 But as it was, the Barbarians could not realize the magnitude of their  p143 victory, and in the excess of their joy, turned to revelry and the distribution of the good things captured in the enemy's camp. For this reason the throngs who were for abandoning the city had ample time for flight, and those who were for remaining plucked up hope and prepared to defend themselves. Abandoning the rest of the city, they fenced the Capitol with ramparts and stocked it with missiles. 3 But their first care was for their sacred things, most of which they carried away to the Capitol; the fire of Vesta, however, was snatched up and carried off by the vestal virgins in their flight, along with the other sacred things entrusted to their care.

However, some writers state that these virgins have watch and ward over nothing more than the ever-living fire, which Numa the King appointed to be worshipped as the first cause of all things. 4 For fire produces more motion than anything else in nature, and all birth is a mode of motion, or is accompanied by motion. All other portions of matter, in the absence of heat, lie inert and dead, yearning for the force of fire to inform them, like a spirit, and on its accession in any manner soever, they become capable of acting and being acted upon. This principle of fire, then, Numa, who was an extraordinary man, and whose wisdom gave him the repute of holding converse with the Muses, is said to have hallowed and ordered to be kept sleepless, that it might image forth the ever-living force which orders the universe aright. 5 Others say that this fire is kept burning before the sacred things by way of purification, as among the Greeks, and that other objects within the temple are kept hidden from the gaze of all except these virgins, whom they call  p145 Vestals. And a very prevalent story had it that the famous Palladium of Troy was hidden away there, having been brought to Italy by Aeneas. There are some who say that it is the Samothracian images which are hidden there, and they tell the tale of Dardanus bringing these to Troy, after he had founded that city, and consecrating them there with celebration of their rites; and of Aeneas, at the capture of Troy, stealing them away and preserving them until he settled in Italy. 6 Others still, pretending to have larger knowledge in these matters, say that two small jars are stored away there, of which one is open and empty, and the other full and sealed up, and that both are visible only to the holy virgins. But others think that these knowing ones have been led astray by the fact that the virgins, at the time of which I am now speaking, cast the most of their sacred treasures into two jars, and hid them under­ground in the temple of Quirinus, whence that place, down to the present time, has the name of "Doliola," or "Jars."

21 1 However that may be, these virgins took the choicest and most important of the sacred objects and fled away along the river. There it chanced that Lucius Albinius, a man of the common people, was among the fugitives, carrying off his wife and little children, with the most necessary household goods, upon a waggon. When he saw the virgins with the sacred symbols in their bosoms, making their way along unattended and in great distress, he speedily took his wife, with the children and the household goods, down from the waggon, and suffered the virgins to mount upon it and make  p147 their escape to a Greek city. 2 This pious act of Albinius, and the conspicuous honour which he showed the gods in a season of the greatest danger, could not well be passed over in silence.

But the priests of the other gods, and the aged men who had been consuls and celebrated triumphs, could not endure to leave the city. So they put on their robes of state and ceremony, following the lead of Fabius, the pontifex maximus, and vowed the gods that they would devote themselves to death in their country's behalf. Then they sat themselves down, thus arrayed, on their ivory chairs in the forum, and awaited their fate.

22 1 On the third day after the battle, Brennus came up to the city with his army. Finding its gates open and its walls without defenders, at first he feared a treacherous ambush, being unable to believe that the Romans were in such utter despair. But when he realised the truth, he marched in by the Colline gate, and took Rome. This was a little more than three hundred and sixty years from her foundation, if one can believe that any accurate chronology has been preserved in this matter, when that of even later events is disputed, owing to the confusion caused by this very disaster. 2 However, it would seem that some vague tidings of the calamity and capture of the city made their way at once to Greece. For Heracleides Ponticus, who lived not long after that time, in his treatise "On the soul," says that out of the West a story prevailed, how an army of Hyperboreans had come from afar and captured a Greek city called Rome, situated somewhere on the shores  p149 of the Great Sea. 3 Now I cannot wonder that so fabulous and fictitious a writer as Heracleides should deck out the true story of the capture of Rome with his "Hyperboreans" and his "Great Sea." But Aristotle the philosopher clearly had accurate tidings of the capture of the city by the Gauls, and yet he says that its saviour was Lucius, although the forename of Camillus was not Lucius, but Marcus. However, these details were matters of conjecture.

4 When he had occupied Rome, Brennus surrounded the Capitol with a guard. He himself went down through the forum, and was amazed to see the men sitting there in public state and perfect silence. They neither rose up to meet their enemies when they approached, nor did they change countenance or colour, but sat there quietly, at ease and without fear, leaning on their staves and gazing into one another's faces. 5 The Gauls were amazed and perplexed at the unwonted sight, and for a long time hesitated to approach and touch them, regarding them as superior beings. But at last one of them, plucking up his courage, drew near Papirius Marcus, and stretching out his hand, gently grasped his chin and stroked his long beard, whereupon Papirius, with his staff, smote him a crushing blow on the head. Then the Barbarian drew his sword and killed him. 6 After that, they fell upon the rest and slew them, made away with every one else they met, sacked and plundered the houses of the city for many days together, and finally burned them down and levelled them with the ground, in their wrath at the defenders of the Capitol. For these would not  p151 surrender at their summons, but when they were attacked, actually repulsed their foes from the ramparts with loss. Therefore the Gauls inflicted every outrage upon the city, and put to the sword all whom they captured, men and women, old and young alike.

23 1 The siege lasted a long time, and the Gauls began to lack provisions. They therefore divided their forces. Some remained with their king and watched the Capitol, others ravaged the country round about, falling upon the villages and sacking them, not all together in one body, but scattered about by commands and companies, some here, some there, moved by their successes to great confidence and the fear of nothing. 2 The largest and best disciplined body of them marched upon the city of Ardea, where Camillus was staying since his exile. He lived in complete retirement and privacy, it is true, but cherished the hopes and plans not of a man who eagerly desired to escape the notice and hands of the enemy, but of one who sought to avenge himself upon them if occasion offered. 3 Wherefore, seeing that the Ardeans were of sufficient numbers, but lacked courage, through the inexperience and effeminacy of their generals, he began to reason with the young men first, to the effect that the mishap of the Romans ought not to be laid to the valour of the Gauls, nor the sufferings of that infatuated people to the prowess of men who did not deserve their victory, but rather to the dictates of fortune. 4 It was a fine thing, he said, even at dangerous risks, to repel the attack of an alien and barbarous folk, whose only end in getting the mastery was, as in the work of fire, the utter destruction of what it conquered. But  p153 in the present case, if they were bold and zealous, he would find occasion to give them a victory without any danger.

After gaining the support of the young men, Camillus went to the rulers and councillors of Ardea, and when he had won them over also, he armed all who were any other age for service and kept them together within the walls, that they might not be perceived by the enemy, who were near. 5 These had scoured the country round about, and encamped in the plain, without care or concern, and heavily encumbered with their abundant booty. When night had fallen upon them, putting an end to their carousals, and silence reigned throughout their camp, Camillus, acquainted with this by his scouts, led forth the Ardeans. Passing quietly over the intervening space, they reached the camp about midnight, and with shouts and trumpet blasts on every hand confounded the men, who were scarcely brought to their senses by the din, heavy as they were with drunkenness and sleep. 6 A few of them were sobered by fear, armed themselves, and made resistance to Camillus and his men, so that they fell fighting; but most were still mastered by sleep and wine when they were fallen upon and slain without their arms. A few only ran from the camp, under cover of darkness, and when day came, were seen straggling about the fields, but horsemen pursued them and cut them to pieces.

24 1 Rumour quickly carried news of this exploit to the neighbouring cities, and called to arms many of those who were of age for service, particularly the Romans who had made their escape from the battle on the Allia, and were in Veii. These  p155 lamented among themselves, saying: "Of what a leader has heaven robbed Rome in Camillus, only to adorn Ardea with his victories! The city which bore and reared such a hero is dead and gone, and we, for lack of generals, sit pent up within alien walls, and see Italy ruined before our very eyes. 2 Come! let us send to Ardea and demand our own general, or take our arms and go ourselves to him! For he is no longer an exile, nor are we citizens, now that our country is no more, but is mastered by the enemy." So said, so done, and they sent and asked Camillus to take the command. 3 But he refused to do so before the citizens on the Capitol had legally elected him. They were preserving the country, as he thought, and if they had commands for him, he would gladly obey, but against their wishes he would meddle with nothing whatsoever. This noble restraint on the part of Camillus was much admired, but it was hard to see how the matter could be referred to the Capitol. Nay rather, it seemed utterly impossible, while the enemy held the city, for a messenger to elude them and reach the acropolis.

25 1 But there was a certain young man, Pontius Cominius by name, who was, in spite of his ordinary birth, a lover of glory and honour. He volunteered to attempt the task. He took no letter with him to the defenders of the Capitol, lest this, in the event of his capture, should help the enemy to discover the purpose of Camillus; but under the coarse garments which he wore, he carried some pieces of cork. The greater part of his journey was made by daylight and without fear; but as night came on he found himself near the city.  p157 He could not cross the river by the bridge, since the Barbarians were guarding it, 2 so he wrapped his light and scanty garments about his head, fastened the corks to his body, and thus supported, swam across, came out on the other side, and went on towards the city. Always giving a wide berth to those of the enemy who were watchful and wakeful, as he judged by their fires and noise, he made his way to the Carmental gate, where there was the most quiet, at which the Capitoline hill was most sheer and steep, and which was girt about by a huge and jagged cliff. Up this he mounted unperceived, and finally reached, with great pains and difficulty, the sentries posted where the wall was lowest. 3 Hailing them, and telling them who he was, he was pulled up over the wall, and taken to the Roman magistrates. The Senate quickly convening, he appeared before it, announced the victory of Camillus, about which they had not heard, and explained to them the will and pleasure of his fellow-soldiers. He exhorted them to confirm Camillus in his command, since he was the only man whom the citizens outside would obey. 4 When the Senate had heard his message and deliberated upon it, they appointed Camillus dictator, and sent Pontius back again by the way he had come, wherein he repeated his former good fortune. For he eluded the enemy's notice and brought the Senate's message to the Romans outside the city.

26 1 These gave eager welcome to the tidings, so that when Camillus came, he found twenty thousand men already under arms. He collected  p159 still more from the allies, and made preparations for his attack. Thus Camillus was chosen dictator for the second time, and proceeding to Veii, he put himself at the head of the soldiers there, and collected more from the allies, with the purpose of attacking the enemy.

But in Rome, some of the Barbarians chanced to pass by the spot where Pontius had made his way by night up to the Capitol, and noticed in many places the marks made by his hands and feet in clambering up, and many places also where the plants that grew upon the rocks had been torn away, and the earth displaced. They advised their king of this, 2 and he too came and made inspection. At the time he said nothing, but when evening came, he assembled the nimblest men and the best mountain-climbers of the Gauls and said to them: "The enemy have shown us that there is a way up to them of which we knew not, and one which men can traverse and tread. It would be a great shame for us, after such a beginning as we have made, to fail at the end, and to give the place up as impregnable, when the enemy themselves show us where it can be taken. For where it is easy for one man to approach it, there it will be no difficult matter for many to go one by one, nay, they will support and aid one another greatly in the undertaking. Gifts and honours befitting his valour shall be given to every man."

27 1 So spake their king, and the Gauls eagerly undertook to do his will. About midnight a large band of them scaled the cliff and made  p161 their way upward in silence. They climbed on all fours over places which were precipitous and rough, but which yielded to their efforts better than they had expected, 2 until the foremost of them reached the heights, put themselves in array, and had all but seized the outwork and fallen upon the sleeping watch. Neither man nor dog were aware of their approach. But there were some sacred geese near the temple of Juno, which were usually fed without stint, but at that time, since provisions barely sufficed for the garrison alone, they were neglected and in evil plight. 3 The creature is naturally sharp of hearing and afraid of every noise, and these, being specially wakeful and restless by reason of their hunger, perceived the approach of the Gauls, dashed at them with loud cries, and so waked all the garrison. At once the Barbarians, now that they were detected, spared no noise, and came on more impetuously to the attack. 4 The defenders, snatching up in haste whatever weapon came to hand, made the best shift they could. Manlius first of all, a man of consular dignity, mighty in body and exceeding stout of heart, confronting two of the enemy at once, cut off the right hand of one of them with his sword as he was lifting his battle-axe, and dashing his shield into the face of the other, tumbled him backwards down the cliff. 5 Then, taking his stand on the wall with those who ran to his aid and formed about him, he repulsed the rest of the enemy, who had reached the top in no great numbers, and showed no prowess to match their daring. So the Romans escaped out of their peril. At break of day, they cast the  p163 captain of the watch down the cliff among the enemy, but voted to Manlius a meed of victory which did him more honour than service. They collected for him the rations which each man of them received for one day, namely, half a pound of native spelt, Roman weight, and an eighth of a pint of wine, Greek measure.

28 1 After this, the case of the Gauls was less hopeful. They lacked provisions, being shut off from foraging through fear of Camillus, and disease lurked among them. They were encamped amid ruins, where a multitude of corpses had been cast at random, and besides, an air made dry and acrid by vast quantities of ashes which wind and heat sent flying abroad, made breathing hurtful. 2 But what most of all affected them was the complete change in their mode of life. They had come all at once from regions of shade, where easy refuge could be had from the heats of summer, into a land which was low lying and had an unnatural climate towards autumn. Then there was their long and idle sitting down before the Capitol, — they were now whiling away the seventh month in its siege. For all these reasons the mortality was great in their camp; so many were the dead that they could no longer be buried.

3 All this, however, brought no relief to the besieged, for famine increased upon them, and their ignorance of what Camillus was doing made them dejected. No messenger could come from him because the city was now closely watched  p165 by the Barbarians. Wherefore, both parties being in such a plight, a compromise was proposed, at first by the outposts as they encountered one another. 4 Then, since those in authority thought it best, Sulpicius, the military tribune of the Romans, held a conference with Brennus, and it was agreed that on the delivery of a thousand pounds of gold by the Romans, the Gauls should straightaway depart out of the city and the country. Oaths were sworn to these terms, and the gold was brought to be weighed. But the Gauls tampered with the scales, secretly at first, then they openly pulled the balance back out of its poise. 5 The Romans were incensed at this, but Brennus, with a mocking laugh, stripped off his sword, and added, belt and all, to the weights. When Sulpicius asked, "What means this?" "What else," said Brennus, "but woe to the vanquished?"​6 and the phrase passed at once into a proverb. Some of the Romans were incensed, and thought they ought to go back again with their gold, and endure the siege. Others urged acquiescence in the mild injustice. Their shame lay, they argued, not in giving more, but in giving at all. This they consented to do because of the emergency; it was not honourable, but it was necessary.

29 1 While they were thus at odds in the matter, both with the Gauls and with themselves, Camillus led his army up to the gates of the city. On learning what was going on, he ordered the rest of his army to follow in battle array and deliberately,  p167 while he himself, with the flower of his men, pressed on, and presently came to the Romans. 2 These all made way for him, in decorous silence acknowledging him as their dictator. Thereupon he lifted the gold from the scales and gave it to his attendants, and then ordered the Gauls to take their scales and weights and be off, saying that it was the custom with the Romans to deliver their city with iron and not with gold. When Brennus in wrath declared that he was wronged by this breaking of the agreement, Camillus answered that the compact was not legally made nor binding, 3 since he himself had already been chosen dictator and there was no other legal ruler; the agreement of the Gauls had therefore been made with men who had no power in the case. Now, however, they must say what they wanted, for he was come with legal authority to grant pardon to those who asked it, and to inflict punishment on the guilty, unless they showed repentance. 4 At this, Brennus raised a clamour and began a skirmish, in which both sides got no further than drawing their swords and pushing one another confusedly about, since the action took place in the heart of the ruined city, where no battle array was possible. But Brennus soon came to his senses, and led his Gauls off to their camp, with the loss of a few only. During the ensuing night he broke camp and abandoned the city with his whole force, and after a march of about eight miles,​c encamped along the Gabinian way. 5 At break of day Camillus was upon him, in glittering array, his Romans now full of confidence, and after a long and fierce battle, routed the enemy with great slaughter and took their camp. Of the fugitives, some were at once  p169 pursued and cut down, but most of them scattered abroad, only to be fallen upon and slain by the people of the surrounding villages and cities.

30 1 So strangely was Rome taken, and more strangely still delivered, after the Barbarians had held it seven months in all. They entered it a few days after the Ides of July, and were driven out about the Ides of February. Camillus celebrated a triumph, as it was meet that a man should do who had saved a country that was lost, and who now brought the city back again to itself. 2 For the citizens outside, with their wives and children, accompanied his triumphal chariot as it entered the city, and those who had been besieged on the Capitol, and had narrowly escaped death by starvation, came forth to meet them, all embracing one another, and weeping for the joy that was theirs. The priests and ministrants of the gods, bringing whatever sacred objects they had either buried on the spot or carried off with them when they took to flight, displayed them, thus preserved in safety, to the citizens, who caught the welcome sights with delight, believing in their hearts that the gods themselves were now coming back to Rome with them. 3 After Camillus had made sacrifices to the gods and purified the city, in the manner prescribed by those who were versed in such rites, he restored the existing temples, and erected a new one to Rumour and Voice,​7 having sought out carefully the spot where by night the voice from Heaven, announcing the coming of the Barbarian host, had fallen upon the ears of Marcus Caedicius.

 p171  31 1 Owing to the zeal of Camillus and the abundant labours of the priesthood, the sites of the temples were at last uncovered, but it proved a grievous undertaking. And since the city had also to be built up again from a state of utter destruction, the multitude were overwhelmed with despair at the task, and shrank from it. They were bereft of all things, and for the present needed some rest and repose after their sufferings, instead of toiling and wearing themselves out on a task for which they had neither means nor strength. 2 And so it was that insensibly their thoughts turned again to Veii, a city which remained intact and was equipped with all things needful. This gave opportunity for mischievous agitations to such as were wont to consult only the people's will and pleasure, and ready ear was given to seditious speeches against Camillus. He had an eye, it was said, only to his own ambition and fame, when he would deprive them of a city that stood ready to receive them, and force them to pitch their tents among a mass of ruins, while they rebuilt what had become a monstrous funeral pyre. He wished not merely to be a leader and general of Rome, but to thrust Romulus to one side and be styled its founder.

3 The Senate, therefore, fearful of this clamour, would not suffer Camillus, much as he wished it, to lay down his office within a year, although no other dictator had served more than six months. Meanwhile the Senators, by dint of kindly greetings and persuasive words, tried to soften and convert the people, pointing out the sepulchres and tombs of their fathers, and calling to their remembrance the shrines and holy places which Romulus, or Numa,  p173 or some other king, had consecrated and left to their care. 4 Among other signs from Heaven, they laid chief stress on the newly severed head that was found when the foundations of the Capitol were dug, showing, as it did, that the place where it was found was fated to be the head of Italy; also on the sacred fire of Vesta, which had been kindled anew by her virgins after the war. If they should quench and extinguish this again by their abandonment of the city, it would be a disgrace to them, whether they saw that city occupied by immigrants and aliens, or abandoned to flocks and herds.

5 Thus did the Senators remonstrate with the people, both individually and in private, and often in the public assemblies. They, in their turn, were moved to compassion by the wailing complaints of the multitude, who lamented the helplessness to which they were come, and begged, now that they had been saved alive as it were from a shipwreck, in nakedness and destitution, that they be not forced to piece together the fragments of their ruined city, when another stood all ready to receive them.

32 1 Accordingly, Camillus decided that the question should be debated and settled in council. He himself spoke at great length, in exhortation to preserve their common country, and every one else who wished did likewise. Finally, he called upon Lucius Lucretius, to whom custom gave the first vote, and bade him declare his opinion first, and then the other senators in the order due. 2 Silence fell, and Lucretius was on the point of beginning, when it chanced that a centurion with a squad of the day watch passed outside, and called with a loud voice on the man who led with the standard,  p175 bade him halt and plant his standard there, for that was the best place to settle down and stay in. The utterance fell at the crisis of their anxious thought for the uncertain future, and Lucretius said, with a devout obeisance, that he cast his vote with the god. The rest, one by one, followed his example. 3 Then the inclinations of the multitude were marvellously changed. They exhorted and incited one another to the work, and pitched upon their several sites, not by any orderly assignment, but as each man found it convenient and desirable. Therefore the city was rebuilt with confused and narrow streets and a maze of houses, owing to their haste and speed. Within a year's time, it is said, a new city had arisen, with walls to guard it and homes in which to dwell.

4 Those who had been deputed by Camillus to recover and mark out anew the sacred places, found them all in utter confusion. When they came to the shrine of Mars, in their circuit of the Palatium, they found that it had been demolished and burnt by the barbarians, like the rest, but as they were clearing away and renovating the place, they came upon the augural staff of Romulus, buried deep in a great heap of ashes. 5 The augural staff is curved at one end, and is called lituus. It is used to mark off the different quarters of the heavens, in the ceremonies of divination by the flight of birds, and so Romulus had used this one, for he was a great diviner. But when he vanished from among men, the priests took this staff and kept it inviolate, like  p177 any other sacred object. Their finding this at that time unscathed, when all the rest had perished, gave them more pleasing hopes for Rome. They thought it a token that assured her of everlasting safety.

33 1 They were not yet done with these pressing tasks when a fresh war broke upon them. The Aequians, Volscians, and Latins burst into their territory all at once, and the Tuscans laid siege to Sutrium, a city allied with Rome. The military tribunes in command of the army, having encamped near Mount Marcius, were besieged by the Latins, and were in danger of losing their camp. Wherefore they sent to Rome for aid, and Camillus was appointed dictator for the third time. 2 Two stories are told about this war, and I will give the fabulous one first.

They say that the Latins, either as a pretext for war, or because they really wished to revive the ancient affinity between the two peoples, sent and demanded from the Romans free-born virgins in marriage. The Romans were in doubt what to do, for they dreaded war in their unsettled and unrestored condition, and yet they suspected that this demand for wives was really a call for hostages disguised under the specious name of intermarriage. In their perplexity, a serving-maid named Tutula, 3 or, as some call her, Philotis, advised the magistrates to send her to the enemy with some maid-servants of the comeliest sort and most genteel appearance, all arrayed like free-born brides; she would attend to the rest. The magistrates yielded to her persuasions, chose out as many maid-servants as she thought meet  p179 for her purpose, arrayed them in fine raiment and gold, and handed them over to the Latins, who were encamped near the city. 4 In the night, the rest of the maidens stole away the enemy's swords, while Tutula, or Philotis, climbed a wild fig-tree of great height, and after spreading out her cloak behind her, held out a lighted torch towards Rome, this being the signal agreed upon between her and the magistrates, though no other citizen knew of it. Hence it was that the soldiers sallied out of the city tumultuously, as the magistrates urged them on, calling out one another's names, and with much ado getting into rank and file. They stormed the entrenchments of the enemy, who were fast asleep and expecting nothing of the sort, captured their camp, and slew most of them. 5 This happened on the Nones of what was then called Quintilis, now July, and the festival since held on that day is in remembrance of the exploit. For, to begin with, they run out of the city gate in throngs, calling out many local and common names, such as Gaius, Marcus, Lucius, and the like, in imitation of the way the soldiers once called aloud upon each other in their haste. 6 Next, the maid-servants, in gay attire, run about jesting and joking with the men they met. They have a mock battle, too, with one another, implying that they once took a hand in the struggle with the Latins. And as they feast, they sit in the shade of a fig-tree's branches. The day is called the "Capratine Nones," from the wild fig-tree, as they suppose, from which the maid held forth her torch; this goes by the name of caprificus.

7 But others say that most of what is said and done at this festival has reference to the fate of Romulus.  p181 For on this same day he vanished from sight, outside the city gates, in sudden darkness and tempest, and, as some think, during an eclipse of the sun. The day, they say, is called the "Capratine Nones" from the spot where he thus vanished. For the she-goat goes by the name of capra, and Romulus vanished from sight while haranguing an assembly of the people at the Goat's Marsh, as has been stated in his Life.8

34 1 But most writers adopt the other account of this war, which runs thus. Camillus, having been appointed dictator for the third time, and learning that the army under the military tribunes was besieged by the Latins and Volscians, was forced to put under arms even those of the citizens who were exempt from military duty by reason of advancing years. 2 Fetching a long circuit around Mount Marcius and thus eluding the enemy's notice, he planted his army securely in their rear, and then by lighting many fires made known his presence there. The besieged Romans at once took heart and purposed to sally out and join battle. 3 But the Latins and Volscians retired within their trenches, fenced themselves in with a great wooden palisade, and barricaded their camp on all sides, for they now had a hostile force in front and rear, and were determined to await reinforcements from home. At the same time they expected aid from the Tuscans also. Camillus, perceiving their design, and fearful of being himself surrounded by the enemy as he had surrounded them, made haste to improve his opportunity. 4 The enemy's barricades were of wood, and a strong wind  p183 blew down from the mountains at sun-rise. Accordingly, he equipped himself with fiery darts, and leading his forces out towards day-break, ordered part of them to attack with missiles and loud cries at an opposite point, while he himself, with those appointed to hurl fire, took his post where the wind was wont to smite the enemy's trenches with the greatest force, and awaited the propitious moment. When battle had been joined and the sun rose and the wind burst forth with fury, he gave orders for an onset, and scattered no end of fiery darts along the trenches. 5 The flames speedily found food in the crowded timbers of the wooden palisades and spread in all directions. The Latins had nothing at hand with which to ward off or quench them, and when at length their camp was full of fire, they were huddled together into a small space, and at last forced to dash out against an enemy who were drawn up in full battle array in front of the trenches. Few of them made their escape, and those who were left behind in the camp were all a prey to the fire until the Romans put it out and fell upon their booty.

35 1 This business dispatched, he left his son Lucius in command of the camp to guard the captives and the booty, while he himself invaded the enemy's country. He captured the city of the Aequians, brought the Volscians to terms, and straightway led his army towards Sutrium. He was not yet apprised of the fate of the Sutrians, but thought they were still in peril of siege by the Tuscans, and so hastened to relieve them. 2 But they had already surrendered their city to the enemy, and been sent off in utter  p185 destitution, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As Camillus came marching along they met him, with their wives and children, all lamenting their misfortunes. Camillus himself was filled with compassion at the sight, and noticed that his Romans too, with the Sutrians hanging upon their necks in supplication, were moved to tears and anger at their lot. He therefore determined to make no postponement of his vengeance, 3 but to march straight upon Sutrium that very day. He reasoned that men who had just taken a prosperous and opulent city, leaving none of their enemies in it, and expecting none from without, would be found wholly relaxed in discipline and off their guard; and he reasoned correctly. He not only passed unnoticed through the city's territory, but was actually at its gates and in command of its walls before the enemy knew it. For not a man of them was on guard, but they were all scattered among the houses of the city drinking and feasting. 4 And even when they perceived that their enemies already had the mastery, they were so sluggishly disposed by reason of satiety and drunkenness that many did not so much as try to flee, but awaited there in the houses the most shameful of deaths, or gave themselves up to their enemies. The city of Sutrium was thus twice captured in a single day, and it came to pass that those who had won it, lost it, and those who had first lost it, won it back, and all by reason of Camillus.

36 1 The triumph decreed him for these victories brought him no less favour and renown than the first two had done, and those citizens who had been most envious of him and preferred to ascribe all his successes to an unbounded good fortune rather  p187 than to a native valour, were forced by these new exploits to set the man's glory to the credit of his ability and energy. 2 Now of all those who fought him with hatred and envy, the most conspicuous was Marcus Manlius, the man who first thrust the Gauls down the cliff when they made their night attack upon the Capitol, and for this reason had been surnamed Capitolinus. This man aspired to be chief in the city, and since he could not in the fairest way outstrip Camillus in the race for glory, 3 he had recourse to the wonted and usual arts of those that would found a tyranny. He courted, that is, the favour of the multitude, especially of the debtor class, defending some and pleading their causes against their creditors; snatching others from arrest and preventing their trial by process of law. In this way great numbers of indigent folk soon formed a party about him, and their bold and riotous conduct in the forum gave the best citizens much to fear. 4 To quell their disorder, Quintus Capitolinus was made dictator, and he cast Manlius into prison. Thereupon the people put on the garb of mourners, a thing done only in times of great public calamity, and the Senate, cowed by the tumult, ordered that Manlius be released. He, however, when released, did not mend his ways, but grew more defiantly seditious, and filled the whole city with faction. Accordingly, Camillus was again made military tribune.

5 When Manlius was brought to trial, the view from the place was a great obstacle in the way of his accusers. For the spot where Manlius had stood  p189 when he fought his night battle with the Gauls, over­looked the forum from the Capitol, and moved the hearts of the spectators to pity. Manlius himself, too, stretched out his hands toward the spot, and wept as he called to men's remembrance his famous struggle there, so that the judges knew not what to do, and once and again postponed the case. They were unwilling to acquit the prisoner of his crime when the proofs of it were so plain; and they were unable to execute the law upon him when, owing to the place of trial, his saving exploit was, so to speak, in every eye. 6 So Camillus, sensible of all this, transferred the court outside the city to the Peteline Grove, whence there is no view of the Capitol. There the prosecutor made his indictment, and the judges were able to forget the man's past services in their righteous anger at his present crimes. 7 So then Manlius was convicted, carried to the Capitol, and thrust down the rock, thus making one and the same spot a monument of his most fortunate actions and of his greatest misfortunes. The Romans, besides, razed his house to the ground, and built there a temple to the goddess they call Moneta. They decreed also that in future no patrician should ever have a house on the Capitoline hill.

37 1 Camillus, called now to be military tribune for the sixth time, declined the honour, being already well on in years, and fearful perhaps of the envy of men and the resentment of the gods which often follows upon such glorious successes as his. But the most manifest reason was his bodily weakness, for it chanced that in those days he was sick. 2 The people, however, would not relieve him of the  p191 office. He had no need, they cried, to fight in the ranks of the cavalry or the men-at‑arms, but only to counsel and ordain; and so they forced him to undertake the command, and with one of his colleagues, Lucius Furius, to lead the army at once against the enemy. These were the Praenestines and Volscians, who, with a large force, were laying waste the lands of the Roman allies. 3 Marching forth, therefore, and encamping near the enemy, he himself thought it best to protract the war, that so, in case a battle should at last be necessary, he might be strong of body for the decisive struggle. But Lucius, his colleague, carried away by his desire for glory, would not be checked in his ardour for battle, and incited the same feelings in the inferior officers of the army. So Camillus, fearing lest it be thought that out of petty jealousy he was trying to rob younger men of the successes to which they eagerly aspired, consented, with reluctance, that Lucius should lead the forces out to battle, while he himself, on account of his sickness, was left behind in camp with a few followers. 4 Lucius conducted the battle rashly and was discomfited, whereupon Camillus, perceiving the rout of the Romans, could not restrain himself, but sprang up from his couch and ran with his attendants to the gate of the camp. Through the fugitives he pushed his way to their pursuers. Those of his men who had passed him into the camp, wheeled about at once and followed him, and those who came bearing down on him from outside, halted and formed their lines about him, exhorting one another not to abandon their general. 5 In this way, for that day, the enemy were turned back from their pursuit. On the next day, Camillus  p193 led his forces out, joined battle with the enemy, defeated them utterly, and took their camp, actually bursting into it along with those who fled to it, and slaying most of them. After this, learning that the city of Satricum had been taken by the Tuscans, and its inhabitants, all Romans, put to the sword, he sent back to Rome the main body of his army, comprising the men-at‑arms, while he himself, with the youngest and most ardent of his men, fell suddenly upon the Tuscans who held the city and mastered them, expelling some and slaying the rest.

38 1 He returned with much spoil to Rome, having proved that those citizens were the most sensible of all who did not fear the bodily age and weakness of a leader possessed of experience and courage, but chose him out, though he was ill and did not wish it, rather than younger men who craved and solicited the command. They showed the same good sense, when the Tusculans were reported to be on the brink of a revolt, in ordering Camillus to select one of his five colleagues as an aid, and march out against them. 2 Although all the five wished and begged to be taken, Camillus passed the rest by and selected Lucius Furius, to everyone's surprise. For he was the man who had just now been eager to hazard a struggle with the enemy against the judgment of Camillus, and had been worsted in the battle. But Camillus wished, as it would seem, to hide away the misfortune and wipe away the disgrace of the man, and so preferred him above all the rest. 3 But the Tusculans, when once Camillus was on the march against them, set to rectifying their transgression as craftily as they could. Their fields were found full of men tilling the soil and pasturing flocks, as in  p195 times of peace; their gates lay wide open; their boys were at school conning their lessons; and of the people, the artizans were to be seen in their workshops plying their trades, the men of leisure sauntered over the forum clad in their usual garb, while the magistrates bustled about assigning quarters for the Romans, as though they expected and were conscious of no evil. 4 Their performances did not bring Camillus into any doubt of their intended treachery, but out of pity for the repentance that followed so close upon their treachery, he ordered them to go to the Senate and beg for a remission of its wrath. He himself also helped to make their prayers effectual, so that their city was absolved from all charges and received the rights of Roman citizen­ship. Such were the most conspicuous achievements of his sixth tribune­ship.

39 1 After this, Licinius Stolo stirred up the great dissension in the city which brought the people into collision with the Senate. The people insisted that, when two consuls were appointed, one of them must certainly be a plebeian, and not both patricians. Tribunes of the people were chosen, but the multitude prevented the consular elections from being duly held. 2 Owing to this lack of magistrates, matters were getting more and more confused, and so Camillus was for the fourth time appointed dictator by the Senate, though much against the wishes of the people. He was not eager for the office himself, nor did he wish to oppose men whose many and great struggles gave them the right to say boldly to him: "Your achievements have been in the field with us, rather than in politics with the patricians;  p197 it is through hate and envy that they have now made you dictator; they hope that you will crush the people if you prevail, or be crushed yourself if you fail." 3 However, he tried to ward off the threatening evils. Having learned the day on which the tribunes intended to propose their law, he issued proclamation making it a day of general muster, and summoned the people from the forum into the Campus Martius, with threats of heavy fines upon the disobedient. 4 The tribunes, on the contrary, for their part, opposed his threats with solemn oaths that they would fine him fifty thousand silver drachmas if he did not cease trying to rob the people of its vote and its law. Then, either because he feared a second condemnation to exile, a penalty unbecoming to a man of his years and achievements, or because he was not able, if he wished, to overcome the might of the people which was now become resistless and invincible, he withdrew to his house, and after alleging sickness for several days, resigned his office.

5 But the Senate appointed another dictator, and he, after making Stolo himself, the very leader of the sedition, his master of horse, suffered the law to be enacted. It was a most vexatious law for the patrician, for it prohibited anyone from owning more than five hundred acres of land. At that time, then, Stolo was a resplendent figure, owing to his victory at the polls; but a little while after, he himself was found to be possessed of what he forbade others to own, and so paid the penalty fixed by his own law.

40 1 There remained, however, the strife over the consular elections, which was the main problem in the dissensions, as it was its first cause, and gave  p199 the Senate most concern in its contention with the people. But suddenly clear tidings came that the Gauls had once more set out from the Adriatic Sea, many myriads strong, and were marching on Rome. 2 With the word, the actual deeds of war kept pace. The country was ravaged, and its population, all who could not more easily fly to Rome for refuge, scattered among the mountains. This terror put an end to the dissension in the city, and brought together into conference both the rich and the poor, the Senate and the people. All with one mind chose Camillus dictator for the fifth time. 3 He was now quite old, lacking little of eighty years; but recognizing the peril and the necessity which it laid upon him, he neither made excuse, as before, nor resorted to pretext, but instantly took upon him the command and went to levying his soldiers.

Knowing that the prowess of the barbarians lay chiefly in their swords, which they plied in true barbaric fashion, and with no skill at all, in mere slashing blows at head and shoulders, 4 he had helmets forged for most of his men which were all iron and smooth of surface, that the enemy's swords might slip off from them or be shattered by them. He also had the long shields of his men rimmed round with bronze, since their wood could not of itself ward off the enemy's blows. The soldiers themselves he trained to use their long javelins like spears, — to thrust them under the enemy's swords and catch the downward strokes upon them.

41 1 When the Gauls were near at hand, being encamped on the Anio and encumbered with untold  p201 plunder, Camillus led his forces out and posted them in a gently sloping glade with many hollows, so that the largest part of them were concealed, and the part that could be seen had the look of shutting themselves up in hilly places out of fear. 2 This opinion of them Camillus wished to strengthen, and therefore made no defence of those who were plundered even at his very feet, but fenced in his trenches and lay quiet, until he saw that some of the enemy were scattered abroad in foraging parties, while those in the camp did nothing but gorge themselves with meat and drink. 3 Then, while it was yet night, he sent his light-armed troops forward to hinder the Barbarians from falling into battle-array and throw them into confusion as they issued from their camp. Just before dawn, he led his men-at‑arms down into the plain and drew them up in battle-array, many in number and full of spirit, as the Barbarians now saw, not few and timid, as they had expected. To begin with, it was this which shattered the confidence of the Gauls, who thought it beneath them to be attacked first. Then again, the light-armed folk fell upon them, forced them into action before they had taken their usual order and been arrayed in companies, and so compelled them to fight at random and in utter disorder. 4 Finally, when Camillus led his men-at‑arms to the attack, the enemy raised their swords on high and rushed for close quarters. But the Romans thrust their javelins into their faces, received their strokes on the parts that were shielded by iron, and so turned the edge of their metal, which was soft and weakly tempered, so much so that their swords quickly bent up double, while their shields were pierced and  p203 weighed down by the javelins which stuck in them. 5 They actually abandoned their own weapons and tried to possess themselves of those of their enemies, and to turn aside the javelins by grasping them in their hands. But the Romans, seeing them thus disarmed, at once took to using their swords, and there was a great slaughter of their foremost ranks, while the rest fled every whither over the plain; the hill tops and high places had been occupied beforehand by Camillus, and they knew that their camp could easily be taken, since, in their overweening confidence, they had neglected to fortify it.

6 This battle, they say, was fought thirteen years after the capture of Rome, and produced in the Romans a firm feeling of confidence regarding the Gauls. They had mightily feared these Barbarians, who had been conquered by them in the first instance, as they felt, in consequence of sickness and extraordinary misfortunes, rather than of any prowess in their conquerors. At any rate, so great had their terror been that they made a law exempting priests from military service, except in case of a Gallic war.

42 1 This was the last military exploit performed by Camillus, for the capture of Velitrae was a direct sequel of this campaign, and it yielded to him without a struggle. But the greatest of his civil contests yet remained and it was harder to wage it now against a people which had come back flushed with victory, and bent on electing a plebeian consul, contrary to the established law. But the Senate opposed their demands, and would not suffer Camillus to lay aside  p205 his office, thinking that, with the aid of his great power and authority, they could make a better fight in defence of their aristocracy. 2 But once when Camillus was seated in state and despatching public business in the forum, an officer, sent by the tribunes of the people, ordered him to follow, actually laying hands upon him as though to hale him away. All at once such cries and tumult as had never been heard before filled the forum, the friends of Camillus thrusting the plebeian officer down from the tribunal, and the multitude below ordering him to drag the dictator away. Camillus, perplexed at the issue, did not renounce his office, but taking the senators with him, marched off to their place of meeting. 3 Before he entered this, turning to the Capitol, he prayed the gods to bring the present tumults to their happiest end, solemnly vowing to build a temple to Concord when the confusion was over.

In the Senate there was a great conflict of opposing views, but nevertheless, the milder course prevailed, concession was made to elect one of the consuls from their own body. 4 When the dictator announced this to the people as the will and pleasure of the Senate, at once, as was to be expected, they were delighted to be reconciled with the Senate, and escorted Camillus to his home with loud applause. On the following day they held an assembly and voted to build a temple of Concord, as Camillus had vowed, and to have it face the forum and place of assembly, to commemorate what had now happened. 5 They voted also to add a day to the so‑called Latin festival, and thereafter to celebrate four days, and that all  p207 Romans at once perform sacrifices with garlands on their heads. At the elections held by Camillus, Marcus Aemilius was chosen consul from the patricians, and Lucius Sextus first consul from the plebeians. This was the last public act of Camillus.

43 1 In the year following, a pestilential sickness visited Rome, carrying off an incalculable number of the common people, and most of the magistrates. Camillus also died at this time, and he was full ripe for death, if any man ever was, considering his years and the completeness of his life; yet his loss grieved the Romans more than that of all those who perished of the plague at this time.

The Editor's Notes:

1 396 B.C.

2 V.22.

3 IliadI.407‑412.

4 390 B.C.

5 Morals, 269F.

6 Vae victis!

7 Ara Aii Locutii.

8 Chap. xxvii.

Thayer's Notes:

a It is almost universally stated — it's one of those things we all 'know' — that the Gauls took Rome in 390 B.C., which look like it dates the battle of the Allia to July 18 of that year.

If Plutarch, writing five hundred years after the event, is to be trusted though, that's not right. The Moon on that date (and remember that 390 B.C. = -389 in astronomical chronology, which includes a Year 0 whereas historical chronology does not) was moving thru Aries (centred on 312° longitude) and the Sun was in the 19th degree of Cancer (110° longitude): the Moon was nowhere near full, and was moving away from full, not towards full.

Fortunately though the 390 date is very likely wrong, an artifact of the competing chronologies already existing in Roman times; for a better view of the date, see Livius's page on Camillus, which makes the year 387 — and on July 18, 387 B.C. (= -386), the Moon's course centred on the cusp of Capricorn: with the Sun again in Cancer of course. As Livius also points out, though, the calendar was out of whack and it must be coincidence, although it certainly is tempting.]

b Plutarch's "On Days" is not extant.

c There is no substitute for reading the original. Failing that, do at least beware of translations. The Greek has "sixty stadia", which is conventionally converted by modern scholars to 7½ Roman miles (not a firm nor accurate figure, see my note elsewhere). At any rate, that in turn converts to roughly 6.9 English miles or 11.1 kilometers.

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