Proxima forte hosti erat cohors Paeligna, cuius praefectus Vibius Accaus arreptum vexillum trans vallum hostium traiecit. exsecratus inde seque et cohortem, si eius vexilli hostes potiti essent, princeps ipse per fossam vallumque in castra irrupit. iamque intra vallum Paeligni pugnabant, cum altera parte, Valerio Flacco tribuno militum tertiae legionis exprobrante Romanis ignaviam qui sociis captorum castrorum concederent decus, T. Pedanius princeps primus centurio, cum signifero signum ademisset, “iam hoc signum et hic centurio” inquit “intra vallum hostium erit; sequantur qui capi signum ab hoste prohibituri sunt.” manipulares sui primum transcendentem fossam, dein legio tota secuta est. iam et consul, ad conspectum transgredientium vallum mutato consilio ab revocando ad incitandos hortandosque versus milites, ostendere in quanto discrimine ac periculo fortissima cohors sociorum et civium legio esset. itaque pro se quisque omnes per aequa atque iniqua loca, cum undique tela conicerentur armaque et corpora hostes obicerent, pervadunt irrumpuntque; multi volnerati etiam quos vires et sanguis desereret, ut intra vallum hostium caderent nitebantur. capta itaque momento temporis velut in plano sita nec permunita castra. caedes inde, non iam pugna erat omnibus intra vallum permixtis.
Nearest to the enemy happened to be a Paelignian cohort, whose prefect Vibius Accaus seized the banner and threw it over the enemy’s earthwork. Then, with a curse upon himself and the cohort if the enemy should get possession of that banner, he was himself the first to dash over the trench and wall into the camp. And already the Paelignians were fighting inside the wall, when from the other side of the camp, while Valerius Flaccus, tribune of the soldiers of the third legion, was reproaching the Romans for their cowardice in yielding to allies the honour of capturing the camp, Titus Pedanius, first centurion of the principes, took a standard away from the standard-bearer and said “This standard and this centurion will in a moment be inside the enemy’s wall. Let those follow who are to prevent the standard from being captured by the enemy.” First the men of his own maniple followed him as he crossed the trench, then the whole legion. And now the consul at the sight of men crossing the wall changed his plan, turned from recalling his soldiers to arousing and encouraging them, and pointed out to them in what a critical and perilous situation were the bravest cohort of the allies and a legion of their fellow-citizens. And so, each doing his best, over ground favourable and unfavourable, while javelins were being hurled from every side and the enemy were interposing weapons and their bodies, they made their way and burst in. Many wounded men, even those whose strength and blood were ebbing, strove to fall inside the enemy’s wall. And so in a moment’s time the camp was captured, just as if pitched on level ground and not strongly fortified. Then came slaughter, no longer mere battle, since everything inside the wall was in confusion. (tr. Frank Gardner Moore)
Haec Graeco sermone Perseo; Latine deinde suis “exemplum insigne cernitis” inquit “mutationis rerum humanarum. vobis hoc praecipue dico, iuvenes. ideo in secundis rebus nihil in quemquam superbe ac violenter consulere decet nec praesenti credere fortunae, cum quid vesper ferat incertum sit. is demum vir erit, cuius animum neque prosperae res flatu suo efferent nec adversae infringent.”
This the consul said in Greek to Perseus; then he continued in Latin to his staff: “You see before you a notable example of the changefulness of human affairs. I say this especially for you, young men. Therefore, it is proper to offer no insult or violence to anyone, while one is in favourable circumstances, and not to trust to one’s present fortune, since no one knows what evening will bring. He will be truly a man, in a word, whose spirit is neither deflected from its course by the breath of prosperity, nor broken by misfortune.” (tr. Alfred C. Schlesinger)
Quae ab condita urbe Roma ad captam eandem Romani sub regibus primum, consulibus deinde ac dictatoribus decemuirisque ac tribunis consularibus gessere, foris bella, domi seditiones, quinque libris exposui, res cum vetustate nimia obscuras velut quae magno ex intervallo loci vix cernuntur, tum quid rarae per eadem tempora litterae fuere, una custodia fidelis memoriae rerum gestarum, et quod, etiam si quae in commentariis pontificum aliisque publicis privatisque erant monumentis, incensa urbe pleraeque interiere. Clariora deinceps certioraque ab secunda origine velut ab stirpibus laetius feraciusque renatae urbis gesta domi militiaeque exponentur.
The history of the Romans from the founding of the City of Rome to the capture of the same – at first under kings and afterwards under consuls and dictators, decemvirs and consular tribunes – their foreign wars and their domestic dissensions, I have set forth in five books, dealing with matters which are obscure not only by reason of their great antiquity – like far-off objects which can hardly be descried – but also because in those days there was but slight and scanty use of writing, the sole trustworthy guardian of the memory of past events, and because even such records as existed in the commentaries of the pontiffs and in other public and private documents, nearly all perished in the conflagration of the City. From this point onwards a clearer and more definite account shall be given of the City’s civil and military history, when, beginning for a second time, it sprang up, as it were from the old roots, with a more luxuriant and fruitful growth. (tr. Benjamin Oliver Foster)
Fabii caesi ad unum omnes praesidiumque expugnatum. trecentos sex perisse satis convenit, unum prope puberem aetate relictum, stirpem genti Fabiae dubiisque rebus populi Romani saepe domi bellique vel maximum futurum auxilium.
The Fabii were all slain to a man, and their fort was stormed. Three hundred and six men perished, as is generally agreed; one, who was little more than a boy in years,* survived to maintain the Fabian stock, and so to afford the very greatest help to the Roman people in its dark hours, on many occasions, at home and in the field. (tr. B.O. Foster)
* Quintus (or Quinctius) Fabius Vibulanus was said to be the only male to escape the slaughter of the gens Fabia at the Battle of the Cremera (477 BC). He became consul for the first time in 467, so he can’t have been that young!
Tum Anci filii duo etsi antea semper pro indignissimo habuerant se patrio regno tutoris fraude pulsos, regnare Romae advenam non modo vicinae sed ne Italicae quidem stirpis, tum impensius iis indignitas crescere si ne ab Tarquinio quidem ad se rediret regnum, sed praeceps inde porro ad servitia caderet, ut in eadem civitate post centesimum fere annum quam Romulus deo prognatus deus ipse tenuerit regnum donec in terris fuerit, id servus serva natus possideat. cum commune Romani nominis tum praecipue id domus suae dedecus fore, si Anci regis virili stirpe salva non modo advenis sed servis etiam regnum Romae pateret.
Now the two sons of Ancus had always considered it a great outrage that they had been ousted from their father’s kingship by the crime of their guardian, and that Rome should be ruled by a stranger whose descent was derived from a race not only remote but actually not even Italian. But their indignation was vastly increased by the prospect that even after Tarquinius’ death the sovereignty would not revert to them, but, plunging down to yet baser depths, would fall into the hands of slaves; so that where, a hundred years before, Romulus, a god’s son and himself a god, had borne sway, so long as he remained on earth, in that self-same state a slave and the son of a slave woman would be king. It would be not only a general disgrace to the Roman name, but particularly to their own house, if during the lifetime of Ancus’ sons it should be open not only to strangers, but even to slaves to rule over the Romans. (tr. Benjamin Oliver Foster)
Cum consulis vocem subsecuta patrum indignatio esset, proditur memoriae adversus crebram implorationem deum, quos testes foederum saepius invocabant consules, vocem Anni spernentis numina Iovis Romani auditam. certe, cum commotus ira se a vestibulo templi citato gradu proriperet, lapsus per gradus capite graviter offenso impactus imo ita est saxo ut sopiretur. exanimatum auctores quoniam non omnes sunt, mihi quoque in incerto relictum sit, sicut inter foederum ruptorum testationem ingenti fragore caeli procellam effusam; nam et vera esse et apte ad repraesentandam iram deum ficta possunt. Torquatus missus ab senatu ad dimittendos legatos cum iacentem Annium vidisset, exclamat, ita ut populo patribusque audita vox pariter sit: ‘bene habet: di pium movere bellum. est caeleste numen; es, magne Iuppiter; haud frustra te patrem deum hominumque hac sede sacravimus. quid cessatis, Quirites, vosque patres conscripti, arma capere deis ducibus? sic stratas legiones Latinorum dabo, quemadmodum legatum iacentem videtis.’
The consul’s speech having been warmly seconded by the indignant senators, it is recorded that in answer to the numerous supplications of the gods, whom the consuls repeatedly invoked as the witnesses of treaties, the voice of Annius was heard spurning the power of the Roman Jupiter. At all events, as he hurried, beside himself with rage, from the entrance of the temple, he slipped on the stairs, and struck his head so hard on the lowest stone that he lost consciousness. That he was killed is not asserted by all writers, wherefore I, too, may leave the question undecided, as also the tradition that while men were calling on the gods to witness the breaking of the treaty, there was a loud crash in the heavens, and a hurricane burst forth: for these things may be true, or they may be apt inventions to express in a lively manner the wrath of Heaven. Torquatus, who had been sent by the senate to dismiss the envoys, saw Annius lying there, and exclaimed in a voice that was heard alike by the people and the senators: “It is well; the gods have begun a righteous war. There is a heavenly power; thou dost exist, great Jupiter: not in vain have we established thee in this holy seat, the Father of gods and men. Why do you hesitate to arm, Quirites, and you Conscript Fathers, with the gods to lead you? As you behold their ambassador brought low, even so will I cast down the Latin legions.” (tr. Benjamin Oliver Foster)
Tum vero apparuit ab ira et ab odio urbem oppugnatam esse. nemo capiendi vivos, nemo patentibus ad direptionem omnibus praedae memor est; trucidant inermes iuxta atque armatos, feminas pariter ac viros; usque ad infantium caedem ira cruelis pervenit. ignem deinde tectis iniciunt ac diruunt quae incendio absumi nequeunt; adeo vestigia quoque urbis exstinguere ac delere memoriam hostium sedis cordi est.
It was then in truth evident that the city had been attacked out of anger and hatred. No one thought of taking men alive, no one thought of booty, although every place was open for plunder. They slaughtered the unarmed and the armed alike, women as well as men; cruel anger went even so far as to slay infants. Then they threw firebrands into houses and demolished what could not be consumed by the flames. So delighted were they to destroy even the traces of the city and to blot out the memory of their enemies’ abode. (tr. Frank Gardner Moore)