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Chapter 12




She's gone, forever gone! The king of terrors Lays his rude hands upon her lovely limbs. And blasts her beauty with his icy breath.--Dennis.


1. The commonwealth of Rome had now, for nearly sixty years, been fluctuating between the contending orders that composed it, till at length each side, as if weary, was willing to respire awhile from the mutual exertions of its claims. The citizens, of every rank, began to complain of the arbitrary decisions of their magistrates, and wished to be guided by a written body of laws which, being known, might prevent wrongs, as well as punish them. 2. In this both the senate and the people concurred, as hoping that such laws would put an end to the commotions that so long had harassed the state. 3. It was thereupon agreed that ambassadors should be sent to the Greek cities in Italy, and to Athens, to bring home such laws from thence, as, by experience, had been found most equitable and useful. For this purpose three senators, Posthu'mus, Sulpi'cius, and Man'lius, were fixed upon, and galleys assigned to convoy them, agreeably to the majesty of the Roman people. 4. While they were upon this commission abroad, a dreadful plague depopulated the city at home, and supplied the interval of their absence with other anxiety than that of wishes for their return. 5. In about a year the plague ceased, and the ambassadors returned, bringing home a body of laws, collected from the most civilised states of Greece and Italy, which, being afterwards formed into ten tables, and two more being added, made that celebrated code, called, The Laws of the Twelve Tables.[1]

6. The ambassadors were no sooner returned, than the tribunes required that a body of men should be chosen to digest their new laws into proper form, and to give weight to the execution of them. 7. After long debate, whether this choice should not be made from the people, as well as the patricians, it was at last agreed that ten of the principal senators should be elected, whose power, continuing for a year, should be equal to that of kings and consuls, and that without any appeal. 8. Thus the whole constitution of the state at once took a new form, and a dreadful experiment was about to be tried, of governing one nation by laws formed from the manners and customs of another.

9. These _Decemviri_, being now invested with absolute power, agreed to take the reins of government by turns, each to administer justice for a day. 10. For the first year, they wrought with extreme application: and their work being finished, it was expected that they would be content to give up their office; but, having known the charms of power, they were unwilling to resign: they pretended that some laws were yet wanting to complete their design, and entreated the senate for a continuance in office; which request was readily granted.

11. But they soon threw off the mask of moderation, and, regardless of the approbation of the senate or the people, resolved to continue, against all order, in the decemvirate. 12. A conduct so tyrannical produced discontents, and these were as sure to produce fresh acts of tyranny. The city was become almost a desert, with respect to all who had any thing to lose, and the rapacity of the decemvirs was then only discontinued when they wanted fresh subjects to exercise it upon. 13. In this state of slavery, proscription, and mutual distrust, not one citizen was found to strike for his country's freedom; these tyrants continued to rule without controul, being constantly guarded, not by the lictors alone, but by a numerous crowd of dependents, clients, and even patricians, whom their vices had confederated round them.

14. In this gloomy situation of the state, the 'qui and Vol'sci, those constant enemies of the Romans, renewed their incursions, and, resolving to profit by the intestine divisions of the people, advanced within about ten miles of Rome.

15. The decemviri, being in possession of all the military as well as of the civil power, divided their army into three parts; whereof one continued with Ap'pius in the city, to keep it in awe; the other two were commanded by his colleagues, and were led, one against the 'qui, and the other against the Vol'sci. 16. The Roman soldiers had now adopted a method of punishing the generals whom they disliked, by suffering themselves to be vanquished in the field. They put it in practice upon this occasion, and shamefully abandoned their camp upon the approach of the enemy, 17. Never was victorious news more joyfully received at Rome, than the tidings of this defeat; the generals, as is always the case, were blamed for the treachery of their men; some demanded that they should be deposed, others cried out for a dictator to lead the troops to conquest. 18. Among the rest, old Sic'cius Denta'tus, the tribune, spoke his sentiments with his usual openness; and, treating the generals with contempt, pointed out the faults of their discipline in the camp, and their conduct in the field. 19. Ap'pius, in the mean time, was not remiss in observing the dispositions of the people. Denta'tus, in particular, was marked out for vengeance; and, under pretence of doing him particular honour, he was appointed legate, and put at the head of the supplies which were sent from Rome, to reinforce the army. 20. The office of legate was held sacred among the Romans, as in it was united the authority of a general, with the reverence due to the priesthood. 21. Denta'tus, no way suspecting the design, went to the camp with alacrity, where he was received with all the external marks of respect. But the generals soon found means of indulging their desire of revenge. 22. He was appointed at the head of a hundred men to go and examine a more commodious place for encampment, as he had very candidly assured the commanders, that their present situation was wrong. 23. The soldiers, however, who were given as his attendants, were assassins; wretches who had long been ministers of the vengeance of the decemviri, and who had now engaged to murder him, though with all those apprehensions which his reputation (for he was called the Roman _Achilles_) might be supposed to inspire. 24. With these designs they led him into the hollow bosom of a retired mountain, where they began to set upon him behind. 25. Denta'tus too late perceived the treachery of the decemviri, and was resolved to sell his life as dearly as he could; he therefore set his back against a rock, and defended himself against those who pressed most closely. Though now grown old, he had still the remains of his former valour, and, with his own hand, killed no less than fifteen of the assailants, and wounded thirty. 26. The assassins now, therefore, terrified at his amazing bravery, showered their javelins upon him at a distance, all which he received in his shield with undaunted resolution.

27. The combat, though so unequal in numbers, was managed for some time with doubtful success, till at length the assailants bethought themselves of ascending the rock, against which he stood, and pouring down stones upon him from above. 28. This succeeded: the old soldier fell beneath their united efforts; after having shown, by his death, that he owed to his fortitude, and not his fortune, that he had come off so many times victorious. 29. The decemviri pretended to join in the general sorrow for so brave a man, and decreed him a funeral with the first military honours; but their pretended grief, compared with their known hatred, only rendered them still more detestable to the people.


Questions for Examination.

1. Of what did the Roman citizens complain, and what did they wish?

2. Was this assented to by the nation at large?

3. What means were adopted for this purpose?

4. What happened during their absence?

5. How long did this calamity last?

6. What steps were taken on the return of the ambassadors?

7. Who were chosen for this purpose?

8. Was this proceeding an important one?

9. In what manner did the decemviri govern?

10. How did they discharge the duties of their office?

11. Did they continue in the conscientious discharge of their duties?

12. What was the consequence of this conduct?

13. Was no patriot to be found bold enough to be a champion in his country's cause?

14. What added to the miseries of the Romans?

15. What steps were taken to oppose them?

16. What was the conduct of the Roman soldiers on this occasion?

17. How was this news received at Rome?

18. Who appeared most conspicuous on this occasion?

19. How was this honest sincerity received?

20. Was the office of legate a respectable one?

21. Did Dentatus suspect treachery?

22. What plan of revenge was adopted?

23. What was the character of his attendants?

24. How did they commence their base design?

25. Was Dentatus aware of their treachery, and what resistance did he make?

26. Did the assassins boldly engage the hero?

27. What new method of attack did they attempt?

28. Was this plan successful?

29. What was the conduct of the decemviri on this occasion?




That chastity of look which seems to hang A veil of purest light o'er all her beauties. And, by forbidding, most inflames!--Young.


1. But a transaction still more atrocious than the former, served to inspire the citizens with a resolution to break all measures of obedience, so as at last to restore freedom.

2. Ap'pius, sitting one day on his tribunal to dispense justice, saw a maiden of exquisite beauty, aged about fifteen, passing to one of the public schools, attended by a matron, her nurse. The charms of the damsel, heightened by all the innocence of virgin modesty, caught his attention, and fired his heart. The day following, as she passed, he found her still more beautiful, and his breast still more inflamed. 3. He now, therefore, resolved to obtain the gratification of his passion, whatever should be the consequence, and found means to inform himself of the maiden's name and family. 4. Her name was Virgin'ia; she was the daughter of Virgin'ius, a centurion, then with the army in the field, and had been contracted to Icil'ius, formerly a tribune of the people, who had agreed to marry her at the end of the present campaign.

5. Ap'pius at first resolved to break off this match, and to espouse her himself; but the laws of the Twelve Tables had forbidden the patricians to intermarry with the plebeians, and he could not infringe these, as he was the enactor of them. 6. He determined, therefore, to make her his slave. 7. After having vainly tried to corrupt the fidelity of her nurse, he had recourse to another expedient, still more wicked. He fixed upon one Clau'dius, who had long been the minister of his crimes, to assert that the beautiful maid was his slave, and to refer the cause to Ap'pius's tribunal for decision. 8. Clau'dius behaved exactly according to his instructions; for, taking with him a band of ruffians like himself, he entered into the public school, where Virginia was found among her female companions, and seizing upon her under pretence that she was the daughter of one of his slaves, was dragging her away, when he was prevented by the people, drawn together by her cries. 9. At length, after the first heat of opposition was over, he led the weeping virgin to the tribunal of Ap'pius, and there plausibly exposed his pretensions. 10. Clau'dius asserted that she was born in his house, of a female slave, who sold her to the wife of Virgin'ius, who had been childless. That he had credible evidences to prove the truth of what he had advanced; but that, until they could come together, it was but reasonable the slave should be delivered into his custody, he being her proper master. 11. Ap'pius pretended to be struck with the justice of his claim; he observed, that if the reputed father himself were present, he might indeed be willing to delay the delivery of the maid; but that it was not lawful for him, in the present case, to detain her from her master. He, therefore, adjudged her to Clau'dius, as his slave, to be kept by him till Virgin'ius should arrive, and be able to prove his paternity. 12. This sentence was received with loud clamours and reproaches by the multitude, particularly by the women, who came round the innocent Virgin'ia, desirous to protect her from the judge's fury; while Icil'ius, her lover, boldly opposed the decree, and obliged Clau'dius to take refuge under the tribunal of the decemvir. 13. All things now threatened an open insurrection, when Ap'pius, fearing the event, thought proper to suspend his judgment, under pretence of waiting the arrival of Virgin'ius, who was then about eleven miles from Rome, with the army. 14. The day following was fixed for the trial. In the mean time Ap'pius privately sent letters to the general to confine Virgin'ius, as his arrival in town might only serve to kindle sedition among the people. 15. These letters, however, being intercepted by the centurion's friends, they sent him a full relation of the design laid against his liberty and the honour of his only daughter. 16. Virgin'ius, upon this, pretending the death of a near relation, got permission to leave the camp, and hastened to Rome, inspired with indignation and revenge. 17. Accordingly, the next day, to the astonishment of Ap'pius, he appeared before the tribunal, leading his weeping daughter by the hand, both of them habited in deep mourning. 18. Clau'dius, the accuser, began by making his demand. Virgin'ius next spoke in turn: he represented, that, if he had had intentions of adopting a suppositious child, he should have fixed upon a boy rather than a girl; that it was notorious to all, that his wife had herself nursed this daughter; and that it was surprising such a claim should be made after a fifteen years' silence; and not till Virginia was become marriageable, and acknowledged to be exquisitely beautiful. 19. While the father spoke this, with a stern air, the eyes of all were turned on Virgin'ia, who stood trembling, with looks of persuasive eloquence and excessive grief, which added weight to his remonstrances, and excited compassion. 20. The people, satisfied of the cruelty of his case, raised an outcry, expressive of their indignation. 21. Ap'pius, fearing that what had been said might have a dangerous effect upon the multitude, and under a pretence of being sufficiently instructed in the merits of the cause, with rage interrupted him. "Yes," said he, "my conscience obliges me to declare, that I, myself, am a witness to the truth of the deposition of Clau'dius. Most of this assembly know that I was left guardian to him. I was early apprised that he had a right to this young slave; but public affairs, and the dissensions of the people, have prevented my doing him justice. However, it is not now too late; and by the power vested in me for the general good, I adjudge Virgin'ia to be the property of Clau'dius, the plaintiff. Go, therefore, lictors, disperse the multitude, and make room for the master to repossess himself of his slave." 22. The lictors, in obedience to his command, drove off the throng that pressed round the tribunal; they seized upon Virgin'ia, and were delivering her up into the hands of Clau'dius: the multitude were terrified and withdrew; and Virgin'ius, who found that all was over, seemed to acquiesce in the sentence. 22. He, however, mildly entreated of Ap'pius to be permitted to take a last farewell of a child whom he had at least considered as his own, and so satisfied, he would return to his duty with fresh alacrity. 24. Ap'pius granted the favour, upon condition that their endearments should pass in his presence. But Virgin'ius was then meditating a dreadful resolution.

25. The crowd made way, and Virgin'ius, with the most poignant anguish, taking his almost expiring daughter in his arms, for a while supported her head upon his breast, and wiped away the tears that trickled down her cheeks. 26. He most tenderly embraced her, and drawing her insensibly to some shops which were on the side of the forum, snatched up a butcher's knife: "My dearest lost child," cried Virgin'ius, "thus, thus alone is it in my power to preserve your honour and your freedom!" So saying, he plunged the weapon into her heart. Then drawing it out, reeking with her blood, he held it up to Ap'pius: "Tyrant," cried he, "by this blood I devote thy head to the infernal gods!" 27. Thus saying, and covered with his daughter's blood, the knife remaining in his hand, threatening destruction to whomsoever should oppose him, he ran through the city, wildly calling upon the people to strike for freedom. By the favour of the multitude he then mounted his horse, and rode directly to the camp.

28. He no sooner arrived, followed by a number of his friends, than he informed the army of all that had been done, still holding the bloody knife in his hand. He asked their pardon and the pardon of the gods, for having committed so rash an action, but ascribed it to the dreadful necessity of the times. 29. The army, already predisposed to revolt by the murder of Denta'tus, and other acts of tyranny and oppression, immediately with shouts echoed their approbation, and decamping, left the generals behind, to take their station once more upon mount Aven'tine, whither they had retired about, forty years before. The other army, which had been to oppose the Sab'ines, felt a like resentment, and came over in large parties to join them.

30. Ap'pius, in the mean time, did all he could to quell the disturbances in the city; but finding the tumult incapable of controul, and perceiving that his mortal enemies, Vale'rius and Hora'tius, were the most active in opposition, at first attempted to find safety by flight; nevertheless, being encouraged by Op'pius, who was one of his colleagues, he ventured to assemble the senate, and urged the punishment of all deserters. 31. The senate, however, was far from giving him the relief he sought for; they foresaw the dangers and miseries that threatened the state, in case of opposing the incensed army; they therefore despatched messengers to them, offering to restore their former mode of government. 32. To this proposal all the people joyfully assented, and the army gladly obeying, now returned to the city, if not with the ensigns, at least with the pleasure of a triumphant entry. 33. Ap'pius and Op'pius both died by their own hands in prison. The other eight decemvirs went into exile; and Clau'dius, the pretended master of Virgin'ia, was ignominiously banished.


Questions for Examination.

1. Did the Romans tamely submit to the tyranny of the decemviri?

2. Relate the particulars of this transaction.

3. What resolution did Appius form?

4. Who was this maiden?

5. What was Appius's first determination?

6. On what did he next resolve?

7. To what means did he have recourse for the accomplishment of his purpose?

8. Did Claudius undertake this base?

9. Was the opposition of the people ultimately successful?

10. How did Claudius attempt to make good his claims?

11. What was the conduct of Appius on this occasion?

12. How was this sentence received?

13. What consequences were likely to ensue, and how were they averted?

14. Was not this pretence a false one?

15. By what means were his designs frustrated?

16. Under what pretence did Virginius obtain leave of absence?

17 What measures did he take on his arrival?

18. How was the trial conducted?

19. How did Virginia support this trying scene?

20. What was the general opinion of the auditors?

21. Did the arguments of Virginius induce Appius to forego his iniquitous designs?

22. Were his commands obeyed?

23. What was the request of Virginius?

24. Was this favour granted?

25. Describe this affecting scene?

26. What was the catastrophe?

27. What followed?

28. What use did he make of this dreadful circumstance?

29. What was the effect of his address on the army?

30. How was Appius employed in the mean time?

31. Did the senate second his designs?

32. Did the people accede to this proposal?

33. What was the fate of the tyrants?




From the plough Rose her dictators; fought, o'ercame return'd. Yes, to the plough returned, and nail'd their peers.--Dyer.


1. In the mean time, these intestine tumults produced weakness within the state, and confidence in the enemy abroad. The wars with the 'qui and the Vol'sci still continued; and, as each year some trifling advantage was obtained over the Romans, they, at last, advanced so far, as to make their incursions to the very walls of Rome.[2]

[Sidenote: U.C. 309]

2. But not the courage only of the Romans, their other virtues also, particularly their justice, seemed diminished by these contests.

3. The tribunes of the people now grew more turbulent; they proposed two laws: one to permit plebeians to intermarry with the patricians; and the other, to permit them to be admitted to the consulship also. 4. The senators received these proposals with indignation, and seemed resolved to undergo the utmost extremities, rather than submit to enact these laws. However, finding their resistance only increased the commotions of the state, they, at last, consented to pass that concerning marriages, hoping that this concession would satisfy the people. 5. But they were to be appeased for a very short time only; for, returning, to their old custom of refusing to enlist upon the approach of an enemy, the consuls were obliged to hold a private conference with the chief of the senate, where, after many debates, Clau'dius proposed an expedient, as the most probable means of satisfying the people in the present conjuncture. 6. This was to create six or eight governors in the room of consuls, whereof one half, at least, should be patricians. 7. This project, which was, in fact, granting what the people demanded, pleased the whole meeting, and it was agreed, that the consuls should, contrary to their usual custom, begin by asking the opinion of the youngest senator. 8. Upon assembling the senate, one of the tribunes accused them of holding secret meetings, and managing dangerous designs against the people. The consuls, on the other hand, averred their innocence; and to demonstrate their sincerity, gave leave to any of the younger members of the house to propound their opinions. 9. These remaining silent, such of the older senators, as were known to be popular, began by observing that the people ought to be indulged in their request; that none so well deserved power, as those who were most instrumental in gaining it; and that the city could not be free until all were reduced to perfect equality. Clau'dius spoke next, and broke out into bitter invectives against the people; asserting that it was his opinion that the law should not pass. 10. This produced some disturbance among the plebeians; at length, Genu'tius proposed, as had been preconcerted, that six governors should be annually chosen, with consular authority; three from the senate, and three from the people; and that, when the time of their magistracy should be expired, it would be seen whether they would have the same office continued, or whether the consulship should be established upon its former footing. 11. This project was eagerly embraced by the people; yet so fickle were the multitude, that, though many of the plebeians stood candidates, the choice wholly fell upon the patricians who had offered themselves.

[Sidenote: U.C. 310.]

12. These new magistrates were called Military Tribunes; they were, at first, but three: afterwards they were increased to four, and at length to six; and they had the power and ensigns of consuls: yet, that power being divided among a number, each singly was of less authority. 13. The first that were chosen continued in office only about three months, the augurs having found something amiss in the ceremonies of their election.

14. The military tribunes being deposed, the consuls once more came into office; and in order to lighten the weight of business which they were obliged to sustain, a new office was created; namely, that of Censors, who were to be chosen every fifth, year.[3] 15. Their business was to take an estimate of the number and estates of the people, and to distribute them into their proper classes: to inspect into the lives and manners of their fellow citizens; to degrade senators for misconduct; to dismount knights, and to remove plebeians from their tribes into an inferior class, in case of misdemeanor. 16. The first censors were Papir'ius and Sempro'nius, both patricians; and from this order censors continued to be elected for nearly a hundred years.

17. This new creation served to restore peace for some time among the orders; and a triumph gained over the Vol'scians, by Gega'nius the consul, added to the universal satisfaction that reigned among the people.

[Sidenote: U.C. 313.]

18. This calm, however, was but of short continuance; for, some time after, a famine pressing hard upon the poor, the usual complaints against the rich were renewed; and these, as before, proving ineffectual, produced new seditions. 19. The consuls were accused of neglect, in not having laid in proper quantities of corn: they, however, disregarded the murmurs of the populace, content with using every exertion to supply the pressing necessity.[4] 20. But, though they did all that could be expected from active magistrates in procuring provisions, and distributing them to the poor: yet Spu'rius M'lius, a rich knight, who had bought up all the corn of Tuscany, by far outshone them in liberality. 21. This demagogue, inflamed with a secret desire of becoming powerful by the contentions in the state, distributed corn in great quantities among the poorer sort each day, till his house became the asylum of all such as wished to exchange a life of labour for one of lazy dependence. 22. When he had thus gained a sufficient number of partisans, he procured large quantities of arms to be brought into his house by night, and formed a conspiracy, by which he was to obtain the command, while some of the tribunes, whom he had found means to corrupt, were to act under him, in seizing upon the liberties of his country. 23. Minu'tius soon discovered the plot, and, informing the senate, they immediately resolved to create a dictator, who should have the power of quelling the conspiracy without appealing to the people. 24. Cincinna'tus, who was now eighty years old, was chosen once more to rescue his country from impending danger. 25. He began by summoning M'lius to appear, who refused to obey. He next sent Aha'la, the master of the horse, to compel his attendance; when, meeting him in the forum, Aha'la, on his refusal, killed him upon the spot. The dictator applauded the resolution of his officer, and commanded the conspirator's goods to be sold, his house to be demolished, and his stores to be distributed among the people.[5]

26. The tribunes of the people were much enraged at the death of M'lius. In order, therefore, to punish the senate at the next election, instead of consuls, they insisted upon restoring the military tribunes, and the senate were obliged to comply.

[Sidenote: U.C. 315.]

The next year, however, the government returned to its ancient channel, and consuls were chosen.


Questions for Examination.

1. What was the consequence of those intestine tumults related in the preceding section?

2. Was it their courage only that was impaired by them?

3. How did the tribunes conduct themselves?

4. How were these proposals received?

5. Did it answer the desired end?

6. What expedient was resorted to?

7. How was it received?

8. What happened on assembling the senate?

9. Did they avail themselves of this permission, and what farther passed on this occasion?

10. Was his opinion agreeable to the people? What new proposition was offered by Genutius?

11. Was this plan adopted and acted upon?

12. What were the name, number, and powers of these new magistrates?

13. How long did they continue in office?

14. What government was substituted?

15. What were the duties of the censors?

16. Who were the first censors?

17. What was the consequence of this new creation?

18. Was this satisfaction lasting?

19. How were the consuls affected by it?

20, 21. Through what means did Spurius Manlius obtain credit for being more liberal than the consuls? And what was his real object?

22. How did he proceed in his designs against the liberties of his country?

23. By what means was the plot frustrated?

24. Who was appointed dictator?

25. What steps did he take?

26. How were these rigorous measures received?




Hence every passion, e'en the proudest, stoop'd To common good; Camillus, thy revenge, Thy glory, Fabius.--Thomson.


1. The Ve'ians had long been the rivals of Rome: they had even taken the opportunity of internal distresses to ravage its territories, and had even threatened its ambassadors sent to complain of these injuries, with outrage. 2. It seemed, now, therefore, determined that the city of Ve'ii, whatever it might cost, should fall; and the Romans accordingly sat down regularly before it, and prepared for a long and painful resistance. 3. The strength of the place may be inferred from the continuance of the siege, which lasted for ten years; during which time, the army continued encamped round it, lying, in winter, under tents made of the skins of beasts, and, in summer, driving on the operations of the attack. 4. Various were the successes, and many were the commanders that directed the siege; sometimes all their works were destroyed, and many of their men cut off by sallies from the town; sometimes they were annoyed by an army of Veians, who attempted to bring assistance from without. 5. A siege so bloody seemed to threaten depopulation to Rome itself, by a continual drain of its forces; so that a law was obliged to be made, for all bachelors to marry the widows of the soldiers who were slain. 6. Fu'rius Camil'lus was now created dictator, and to him was entrusted the sole power of managing the long protracted war. 7. Camil'lus, who, without intrigue or solicitation, had raised himself to the first eminence in the state, had been made one of the censors some time before, and was considered as the head of that office; he was afterwards made a military tribune, and had, in this post, gained several advantages over the enemy. 8. It was his great courage and abilities in the above offices that made him be thought most worthy to serve his country on this pressing occasion. 9. Upon his appointment, numbers of the people flocked to his standard, confident of success under so experienced a commander. 10. Conscious, however, that he was unable to take the city by storm, he, with vast labour, opened a passage under ground, which led into the very midst of the citadel. 11. Certain thus of success, and finding the city incapable of relief, he sent to the senate desiring, that all who chose to share in the plunder of Ve'ii, should immediately repair to the army. 12. Then, giving his directions how to enter at the breach, the city was instantly filled with his legions, to the amazement and consternation of the besieged, who, but a moment before, had rested in perfect security. 13. Thus, like a second Troy,[6] was the city of Ve'ii taken, after a ten years' siege, and, with its spoils, enriched the conquerors; while Camil'lus himself, transported with the honour of having subdued the rival of his native city, triumphed after the manner of the kings of Rome, having his chariot drawn by four milk-white horses; a distinction which did not fail to disgust the majority of the spectators, as they considered those as sacred, and more proper for doing honour to their gods than their generals.

14. His usual good fortune attended Camil'lus in another expedition against the Falis'ci. He routed their army, and besieged their capital city Fale'rii, which threatened a long and vigorous resistance. 15. The reduction of this little place would have been scarcely worth mentioning in this scanty page, were it not for an action of the Roman general, that has done him more credit with posterity than all his other triumphs united. 16. A school-master, who had the care of the children belonging to the principal men in the city, having found means to decoy them into the Roman camp, offered to put them into the hands of Camil'lus, as the surest means of inducing the citizens to a speedy surrender. 17. The general, struck with the treachery of a wretch whose duty it was to protect innocence, and not to betray it, for some time regarded the traitor with a stern silence: but, at last, finding words, "Execrable villain!" cried the noble Roman, "offer thy abominable proposals to creatures like thyself, and not to me; what, though we are the enemies of your city, are there not natural ties that bind all mankind, which should never be broken? There are duties required from us in war, as well as in peace: we fight not against the age of innocence, but against men--men who have used us ill indeed; but yet, whose crimes are virtues, when compared to thine. Against such base acts, let it be my duty to use only the Roman ones--valour and arms." 18. So saying, he ordered him to be stript, his hands to be tied behind him, and, in that ignominious manner, to be whipped into the town by his own scholars. 19. This generous behaviour in Camil'lus effected more than his arms could do; the magistrates of the town submitted to the senate, leaving to Camil'lus the condition of their surrender; who only fined them a sum of money to satisfy the army, and received them under the protection, and into the alliance, of Rome.

20. Notwithstanding the veneration which the virtues of Camil'lus had excited abroad, they seemed but little adapted to command the respect of the turbulent tribunes at home, who raised fresh accusations against him every day. 21. To the charge of being an opposer of their intended emigration from Rome to Ve'ii, they added that of his having concealed a part of the plunder of that city, particularly two brazen gates, for his own use; and appointed him a day on which to appear before the people. 22. Camil'lus, finding the multitude exasperated against him on many accounts, and detesting their ingratitude, resolved not to await the ignominy of a trial; but embracing his wife and children, prepared to depart from Rome. 23. He had already passed as far as one of the gates, unattended and unlamented. There he could suppress his indignation no longer, but, turning his face to the Capitol, and lifting up his hands to heaven, he entreated all the gods, that his countrymen might one day be sensible of their injustice and ingratitude. So saying, he passed forward to take refuge at Ar'dea, a town at a little distance from Rome, where he afterwards learned that he had been fined fifteen thousand ases[7] by the tribunes at Rome.

24. The tribunes were not a little pleased with their triumphs over this great man; but they soon had reason to repent their injustice, and to wish for the assistance of one, who alone was able to protect their country from ruin: for now a more terrible and redoubtable enemy than the Romans had ever yet encountered, began to make their appearance. 25. The Gauls, a barbarous nation, had, about two centuries before, made an irruption from beyond the Alps, and settled in the northern parts of Italy. They had been invited over by the deliciousness of the wines, and the mildness of the climate. 26. Wherever they came they dispossessed the original inhabitants, as they were men of superior courage, extraordinary stature, fierce in aspect, barbarous in their manners, and prone to emigration. 27. A body of these, wild from their original habitations, was now besieging Clu'sium, a city of Etru'ria, under the conduct of Brennus, their king. 28. The inhabitants of Clu'sium, frightened at their numbers, and still more at their savage appearance, entreated the assistance, or, at least, the mediation of the Romans. 29. The senate, who had long made it a maxim never to refuse succour to the distressed, were willing, previously, to send ambassadors to the Gauls, to dissuade them from their enterprise, and to show the injustice of the irruption. 30. Accordingly, three young senators were chosen out of the family of the Fabii, to manage the commission, who seemed more fitted for the field than the cabinet. 31. Brennus received them with a degree of complaisance that argued but little of the barbarian, and desiring to know the business of their embassy, was answered, according to their instructions, that it was not customary in Italy to make war, but on just grounds of provocation, and that they desired to know what offence the citizens of Clu'sium had given to the king of the Gauls. 32. To this Brennus sternly replied, that the rights of valiant men lay in their swords; that the Romans themselves had no right to the many cities they, had conquered; and that he had particular reasons of resentment against the people of Clu'sium, as they refused to part with those lands, which they had neither hands to till, nor inhabitants to occupy. 33. The Roman ambassadors, who were but little used to hear the language of a conqueror, for a while dissembled their resentment at this haughty reply; but, upon entering the besieged city, instead of acting as ambassadors, and forgetful of their sacred character, they headed the citizens in a sally against the besiegers. In this combat Fa'bius Ambus'tus killed a Gaul with his own hand, but was discovered in the act of despoiling him of his armour. 34. A conduct so unjust and unbecoming excited the resentment of Brennus, who, having made his complaint by a herald to the senate, and finding no redress, broke up the siege and marched away with his conquering army directly for Rome. 35. The countries through which the Gauls made their rapid progress, gave up all hopes of safety upon their approach; being terrified at their numbers, the fierceness of their natures, and their dreadful preparations for war. 36. But the rage and impetuosity of this wild people were directed solely against Rome. They went on without doing the least injury in their march, breathing vengeance only against the Romans. A terrible engagement soon after ensued, in which the Romans were defeated near the river Al'lia, with the loss of about forty thousand men.[8]

37. Rome, thus deprived of succour, prepared for every extremity. The inhabitants endeavoured to hide themselves in the neighbouring towns, or resolved to await the conqueror's fury, and end their lives with the ruin of their native city.[9] 38. But, more particularly, the ancient senators and priests, struck with a religious enthusiasm, on this occasion resolved to devote their lives to atone for the crimes of the people, and, habited in their robes of ceremony, placed themselves in the forum, on their ivory chairs. 39. The Gauls, in the mean time, were giving a loose to their triumph, in sharing and enjoying the plunder of the enemy's camp. Had they immediately marched to Rome, upon gaining the victory, the Capitol would, in all probability, have been taken; but they continued two days feasting upon the field of battle, and, with barbarous pleasure, exulting amidst their slaughtered enemies. 40. On the third day after this easy victory, Brennus appeared with all his forces before the city. He was at first much surprised to find the gates open to receive him, and the walls defenceless; so that he began to impute the unguarded situation of the place to a Roman stratagem. After proper precaution, he entered the city, and, marching into the forum, beheld there the ancient senators sitting in their order, observing a profound silence, unmoved and undaunted. 41. The splendid habits, the majestic gravity, and the venerable looks of these old men, who, in their time, had all borne the highest offices of state, awed the barbarous enemy into reverence; they mistook them for the tutelar deities of the place, and began to offer blind adoration; till one, more forward than the rest, putting forth his hand to stroke the beard of Papyr'ius, an insult the noble Roman could not endure, he lifted up his ivory sceptre, and struck the savage to the ground. 42. This proved to be a signal for general slaughter. Papyr'ius fell first, and all the rest shared his fate without mercy or distinction.[10] The fierce invaders pursued their slaughter for three days successively, sparing neither sex nor age; then, setting fire to the city, burnt every house to the ground.


Questions for Examination.

1. What was the conduct of the Veians?

2. What resolution was adopted in consequence?

3. Was Veii a strong place?

4. Did the besieged make a vigorous resistance?

5. What consequences were likely to ensue, and how were they obviated?

6. To whom was the conduct of the war now committed?

7. Who was Camillus?

8. By what means did he attain his present dignity?

9. What was the consequence of his appointment?

10. What plan did he adopt to take the city?

11. How did he next proceed?

12. What followed?

13. What was the consequence of this capture, and how did Camillus comport himself?

14. What was Camillus's next exploit?

15. Was this a conquest of importance?

16. Relate the particulars?

17. How was his proposal received?

18. How was the traitor punished?

19. What was the consequence of this conduct?

20. Was Camillus universally respected?

21. What charges were brought against him?

22. Did Camillus abide the event of a trial?

23. Was he resigned to his fate, and whither did he retire?

24. What followed his departure?

25. Who was the enemy?

26. What were the conduct and character of the Gauls?

27. How were they employed at this conjuncture?

28. What measure did the Clusians adopt for their defence?

29. Was their application successful?

30. Who were appointed for this purpose?

31. How were they received?

32. What was the reply of Brennus?

33. What was the conduct of the ambassadors?

34. What was the consequence of this improper conduct?

35. What sensations were excited in the countries through which they passed?

36. Did the Gauls commit any ravages on their march?

37. What measures were adopted at Rome?

38. Who more particularly displayed their devotedness on this occasion?

39. What use did the Gauls make of their victory?

40. What happened on their arrival before the city?

41. What was the effect of this spectacle?

42. What was the consequence of this boldness?




This is true courage, not the brutal force Of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve Of virtue and of reason.--Whitehead.


1. All the hopes of Rome were now placed in the Capitol; every thing without that fortress formed an extensive scene of misery, desolation, and despair.

[Sidenote: U.C. 361.]

2. Brennus first summoned it, with threats, to surrender, but in vain; then resolving to besiege it in form, hemmed it round with his army. The Romans, however, repelled the attempt with great bravery: despair had supplied them with that perseverance and vigour which they seemed to want when in prosperity.

3. In the meanwhile, Brennus carried on the siege with extreme ardour. He hoped to starve the garrison into a capitulation; but they, sensible of his intent, although in actual want, caused loaves to be thrown into his camp, to convince him of the futility of such expectations. 4. His hopes were soon after revived, when some of his soldiers came to inform him, that they had discovered footsteps,[11] which led up to the rock, by which they supposed the Capitol might be surprised. 5. Accordingly, a chosen body of his men were ordered by night upon this dangerous service, which, with great labour and difficulty, they almost effected. 6. They were got upon the very wall; the Roman sentinel was fast asleep; their dogs within gave no signal, and all promised an instant victory, when the garrison was awakened by the gabbling of some sacred geese, that had been kept in the temple of Juno. 7. The besieged soon perceived the imminence of their danger, and each, snatching the weapon that first presented itself, ran to oppose the assailants. 8. M. Man'lius, a patrician of acknowledged bravery, was the first who opposed the foe, and inspired courage by his example. He boldly mounted the rampart, and, at one effort, threw two Gauls headlong down the precipice; his companions soon came to his assistance, and the walls were cleared of the enemy with a most incredible celerity.[12]

9. From this time the hopes of the barbarians began to decline, and Brennus wished for an opportunity of raising the siege with credit.[13] His soldiers had often conferences with the besieged while upon duty, and proposals for an accommodation were wished for by the common men, before the chiefs thought of a congress. At length, the commanders on both sides came to an agreement, that the Gauls should immediately quit the city and territories, upon being paid a thousand pounds weight of gold.

10. This agreement being confirmed by oath on either side, the gold was brought forth. But, upon weighing, the Gauls fraudulently attempted to kick the beam, of which the Romans complaining, Brennus insultingly cast his sword and belt into the scale, crying out that the only portion of the vanquished was to suffer. 11. By this reply, the Romans saw that they were at the victor's mercy, and knew it was in vain to expostulate against any conditions he should please to impose. 12. But while they were thus debating upon the payment, it was told them that Camil'lus, their old general, was at the head of a large army, hastening to their relief, and entering the gates of Rome. 13. Camil'lus actually appeared soon after, and entering the place of controversy, with the air of one who was resolved not to suffer imposition, demanded the cause of the contest; of which being informed, he ordered the gold to be taken and carried back to the Capitol. "For it has ever been," cried he, "the manner with us Romans, to ransom our country, not with gold, but with iron; it is I only that am to make peace, as being the dictator of Rome, and my sword alone shall purchase it." 14. Upon this a battle ensued, the Gauls were entirely routed, and such a slaughter followed, that the Roman territories were soon cleared of the invaders. Thus, by the bravery of Camil'lus, was Rome delivered from its enemy.[14]

15. The city being one continued heap of ruins, except the Capitol, and the greatest number of its former inhabitants having gone to take refuge in Ve'ii, the tribunes of the people urged for the removal of the poor remains of Rome to that city, where they might have houses to shelter, and walls to defend them. 16. On this occasion Camil'lus attempted to appease them with all the arts of persuasion; observing, that it was unworthy of them, both as Romans and men, to desert the venerable seat of their ancestors, where they had been encouraged by repeated marks of divine approbation, in order to inhabit a city which they had conquered, and which wanted even the good fortune of defending itself. 17. By these, and such like remonstrances, he prevailed upon the people to go contentedly to work; and Rome soon began to rise from its ashes.[15]

18. We have already seen the bravery of Man'lius in defending the Capitol, and saving the last remains of Rome. For this the people were by no means ungrateful. They built him a house near the place where his valour was so conspicuous, and appointed him a public fund for his support. 19. But he aspired at being more than equal to Camil'lus, and to be sovereign of Rome. With this view he laboured to ingratiate himself with the populace, paid their debts, and railed at the patricians, whom he called their oppressors. 20. The senate was not ignorant of his speeches or his designs, and created Corne'lius Cossus dictator, with a view to curb the ambition of Man'lius. 21. The dictator soon called Man'lius to an account for his conduct. Man'lius, however, was too much the darling of the populace to be affected by the power of Cossus, who was obliged to lay down his office, and Man'lius was carried from confinement in triumph through the city. 22. This success only served to inflame his ambition. He now began to talk of a division of the lands among the people, insinuated that there should be no distinctions in the state; and, to give weight to his discourses, always appeared at the head of a large body of the dregs of the people, whom largesses had[15] made his followers. 23. The city being thus filled with sedition and clamour, the senate had recourse to another expedient, which was, to oppose the power of Camil'lus to that of the demagogue. Camil'lus, accordingly, being made one of the military tribunes, appointed Man'lius a day to answer for his life. 24. The place in which he was tried was near the Capitol, whither, when he was accused of sedition, and of aspiring to sovereignty, he turned his eyes, and pointing to that edifice, put them in mind of what he had there done for his country. 25. The multitude, whose compassion or whose justice seldom springs from rational motives, refused to condemn him, so long as he pleaded in sight of the Capitol; but when he was brought from thence to the Pe'teline grove, where the Capitol was no longer in view, they condemned him to be thrown headlong from the Tarpe'ian rock.[16] 26. Thus, the place which had been the theatre of his glory, became that of his punishment and infamy. His house, in which his conspiracies had been secretly carried on, and which had been built as the reward of his valour, was ordered to be razed to the ground, and his family were forbidden ever after to assume the name of Man'lius.

27. Thus the Romans went gradually forward, with a mixture of turbulence and superstition within their walls, and successful enterprises without.

28. With what implicit obedience they submitted to their pontiffs, and how far they might be impelled to encounter even death itself, at their command, will evidently appear from the behaviour of Cur'tius, about this time.

[Sidenote: U.C. 392.]

Upon the opening of the gulf in the forum, which the augurs affirmed would never close till the most precious things in Rome were thrown into it, this heroic man, clad in complete armour, and mounted on horseback, boldly leaped into the midst, declaring, that nothing was more truly valuable than patriotism and military virtue. 29. The gulf, say the historians, closed immediately upon this, and Cur'tius was seen no more.[17]

[Sidenote: U.C. 396]

30. This year died the great Camil'lus, deservedly regretted by all. He was styled a second Romulus, the first having founded, and he having restored the city. He is said never to have fought a battle without gaining a victory; never to have besieged a city without taking it. He was a zealous patriot, ever ready to dismiss his just resentments for the affronts he received, when the necessities of his country required his services.


Questions for Examination.

1. What was the state of Rome at this period?

2. What was the next step taken by Brennus, and how did it succeed?

3. In what manner was the siege carried on?

4. Did he consider the attempt as hopeless?

5. What advantage did he take of this information?

6. Was the attempt successful?

7. What was the consequence?

8. Was there any particular instance of valour?

9. What effect had this failure on the mind of Brennus?

10. In what manner was this agreement carried into execution?

11. What inference did the Romans draw from this insolent speech?

12. What agreeable news did they now hear?

13. Was this information correct?

14. What followed?

15. What was the first measure proposed after this deliverance?

16. Was this proposal carried into effect?

17. Were his remonstrances successful?

18. Was the bravery of Manlius rewarded?

19. Was he content with these favours?

20. What measures were taken to oppose his designs?

21. Was this expedient attended with success?

22. What was the conduct of Manlius after this?

23. What farther measures were taken to punish his ambition?

24. What defence did he set up?

25. Was his plea successful?

26. What is remarkable in his punishment?

27. How did the Roman affairs proceed at this time?

28. Relate a memorable instance of the obedience paid by the Romans to their pontiffs or priests?

29. What was the consequence of this heroic act?

30. What happened this year, and what was the character of Camil'lus?



[1] These laws were engraven on brass, and hung up in the most conspicuous part of the Forum.

[2] They were, however, defeated, first by the consul Vale'rius, and next still more decisively by the consuls Quinc'tius and Fu'rius.

[3] The duty of the censors, at first, was merely to perform the census, or numbering of the people. It was by degrees that they became _Magistri Morum_, or inspectors and regulators of men's lives and manners.

[4] They appointed an extraordinary magistrate, under the title of _superintendent of provisions_, and the person named for this office, L. Minutius, an active and prudent man, immediately sent his agents into the neighbouring countries to buy corn; but little, however was procured, as Mlius had been beforehand with him. (Liv. l. iv. c. 13, 14.)

[5] The guilt of M'lius was never proved, and no arms were found when his house was searched. The charge of aiming at royalty is more than absurd; it is morally impossible. He seems to have aimed at opening the higher offices of state to the plebeians, and to have looked upon the consulship with too eager desire. He fell a sacrifice, to deter the plebeians from aiming at breaking up a patrician monopoly of power. It is painful to see Cincinna'tus, at the close of a long and illustrious life, countenancing, if not suggesting this wanton murder. But, as Niebuhr remarks, "no where have characters been more cruel, no where has the voice of conscience against the views of faction been so defied, as in the aristocratic republics, and not those of antiquity only. Men, otherwise of spotless conduct, have frequently shed the purest and noblest blood, influenced by fanaticism, and often without any resentment, in the service of party."

[6] The account of the siege of Ve'ii is full of improbabilities, and the story of the mine is utterly impossible, for without a compass and a good plan of the city, such a work could not have been formed. That Ve'ii, however, was besieged and taken at this time is very certain, but that is the only part of the legend on which we can rely.

[7] The _as_ was a brass coin, about three farthings of our money.

[8] This day was from henceforth marked as unlucky in their calendar, and called Allien'sis.

[9] Among others, the Vestals fled from the city, carrying with them the two Palladiums and the sacred fire. They took shelter at Cre, a town of Etru'ria, where they continued to celebrate their religious rites; from this circumstance religious rites acquired the name of ceremonies.

[10] This self-devotion was in consequence of a vow made by these brave old men, which Fa'bius, the Pontifex Maximus, pronounced in their names. The Romans believed that, by thus devoting themselves to the internal gods, disorder and confusion were brought among the enemy.

[11] These were the footsteps of Pon'tius Comin'ius, who, with great prudence and bravery, found means to carry a message from Camil'lus to the Romans in the Capi'tol, and to return with the appointment of dictator for Camil'lus.

[12] As a reward for this essential service, every soldier gave Man'lius a small quantity of corn and a little measure of wine, out of his scanty allowance; a present of no mean value in their then distressed situation. On the other hand, the captain of the guard, who ought to have kept the sentinels to their duty, was thrown headlong from the Capitol. In memory of this event, a goose was annually carried in triumph on a soft litter, finely adorned; whilst dogs were held in abhorrence, and were impaled every year on a branch of elder.

[13] As the Gauls suffered the bodies of the Romans, who were slain in their frequent encounters, to lie unburied, the stench of their putrefaction occasioned a plague to break out, which carried off great numbers of the army of Brennus.

[14] The authenticity of this narrative is more than suspicious. Polyb'ius, the most accurate of the Roman historians, says that the Gauls carried their old home with them. Sueto'nius confirms this account, and adds that it was recovered at a much later period from the Galli Seno'nes, by Liv'ius Dru'sus; and that on this occasion Dru'sus first became a name in the Livian family, in consequence of the victorious general having killed Drau'sus, the Gallic leader.

[15] So little taste, however, for order and beauty, did those display who had the direction of the works, that the city, when rebuilt, was even less regular than in the time of Romulus.

[16] This account appears so absurd as to be scarcely credible; in fact, Manlius was first tried by the "comitia centuriata," and acquitted. His second trial was before the "comitia curiata," where his enemies, the patricians, alone had the right of voting. See Introduction, Chap. III.

[17] Some judicious writers, however, acknowledge that the chasm was afterwards filled up with earth and rubbish. (Livy, l. 7. c. 6. Val. Maximus, l. 5. c. 6. et alli.)

Oliver Goldsmith