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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 37: Invasion of the Gauls. The attack.[390 BC]
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To such an extent does Fortune blind men's eyes when she will not have her threatened blows parried, that though such a weight of disaster was hanging over the State, no special steps were taken to avert it. In the wars against Fidenae and Veii and other neighbouring States, a dictator had on many occasions been nominated as a last resource. But now when an enemy, never seen or even heard of before, was rousing up war from ocean and the furthest corners of the world, no recourse was had to a dictator, no extraordinary efforts were made. Those men through whose recklessness the war had been brought about were in supreme commands as tribunes, and the levy they raised was not larger than had been usual in ordinary campaigns, they even made light of the resorts as to the seriousness of the war. |
Meantime the Gauls learnt that their embassy had been treated with contempt, and that honours had actually been conferred upon men who had violated the law of nations. Burning with rage -- as a nation they cannot control their passions -- they seized their standards and hurriedly set out on their march. At the sound of their tumult as they swept by, the affrighted cities flew to arms and the country folk took to flight. Horses and men, spread far and wide, covered an immense tract of country; wherever they went they made it understood by loud shouts that they were going to Rome. But though they were preceded by rumours and by messages from Clusium, and then from one town after another, it was the swiftness of their approach that created most alarm in Rome. An army hastily raised by a levy en masse marched out to meet them. The two forces met hardly eleven miles from Rome, at a spot where the Alia, flowing in a very deep channel from the Crustuminian mountains joins the river Tiber a little below the road to Crustumerium. The whole country in front and around was now swarming with the enemy, who, being as a nation given to wild outbreaks, had by their hideous howls and discordant clamour filled everything with dreadful noise.
Event: The Gauls threaten Clusium