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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VIII Chapter 9.:The Revolt of the Latins and Campanians. Self-devotion of Decimus[340 BC]
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The battle took place near the base of Mount Vesuvius, where the road led to Veseris. Before leading out their armies to battle the consuls offered sacrifice. The haruspex, whose duty it was to inspect the different organs in the victims, pointed out to Decius a prophetic intimation of his death, in all other respects the signs were favourable. Manlius' sacrifice was entirely satisfactory. "It is well," said Decius, "if my colleague has obtained favourable signs." They moved forward to battle in the formation I have already described, Manlius in command of the right division, Decius of the left.

Self-devotion of Decius.

At first both armies fought with equal strength and equal determination. After a time the Roman hastati on the left, unable to withstand the insistency of the Latins, retired behind the principes. During the temporary confusion created by this movement, Decius exclaimed in a loud voice to Marcus Valerius: Valerius, we need the help of the gods! Let the Pontifex Maximus dictate to me the words in which I am to devote myself for the legions." The Pontifex bade him veil his head in his toga praetexta, and rest his hand, covered with the toga, against his chin, then standing upon a spear to say these words:
Janus, Jupiter, Father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, ye Novensiles and Indigetes deities to whom belongs the power over us and over our foes, and ye, too, Divine Manes, I pray to you, I do you reverence, I crave your grace and favour that you will bless the Roman People, the Quirites, with power and victory, and visit the enemies of the Roman People, the Quirites, with fear and dread and death. In like manner as I have uttered this prayer so do I now on behalf of the common-wealth of the Quirites, on behalf of the army, the legions, the auxiliaries of the Roman People, the Quirites, devote the legions and auxiliaries of the enemy, together with myself to the Divine Manes and to Earth." After this prayer he ordered the lictors to go to Titus Manlius and at once announce to his colleague that he had devoted himself on behalf of the army. He then girded himself with the Gabine Cincture, and in full armour leaped upon his horse and dashed into the middle of the enemy. To those who watched him in both armies, he appeared something awful and superhuman, as though sent from heaven to expiate and appease all the anger of the gods and to avert destruction from his people and bring it on their enemies. All the dread and terror which he carried with him threw the front ranks of the Latins into confusion which soon spread throughout the entire army. This was most evident, for wherever his horse carried him they were paralysed as though struck by some death-dealing star; but when he fell, overwhelmed with darts, the Latin cohorts in a state of perfect consternation, fled from the spot and left a large space clear. The Romans, on the other hand, freed from all religious fears, pressed forward as though the signal was then first given and commenced a great battle. Even the rorarii rushed forward between the companies of antepilani and added strength to the hastati and principes, whilst the triarii, knee waited for the consul's signal to rise.

Events: The Revolt of the Latins and Campanians., Self-devotion of Decius (father)

Romani consules, priusquam educerent in aciem, immolauerunt. Decio caput iocineris a familiari parte caesum haruspex dicitur ostendisse: alioqui acceptam dis hostiam esse; Manlium egregie litasse. 'atqui bene habet' inquit Decius, 'si ab collega litatum est.' instructis, sicut ante dictum est, ordinibus processere in aciem; Manlius dextro, Decius laeuo cornu praeerat. primo utrimque aequis uiribus, eodem ardore animorum gerebatur res; deinde ab laeuo cornu hastati Romani, non ferentes impressionem Latinorum, se ad principes recepere. in hac trepidatione Decius consul M. Valerium magna uoce inclamat. 'deorum' inquit, 'ope, M. Valeri, opus est; agedum, pontifex publicus populi Romani, praei uerba quibus me pro legionibus deuoueam.' pontifex eum togam praetextam sumere iussit et uelato capite, manu subter togam ad mentum exserta, super telum subiectum pedibus stantem sic dicere: 'Iane, Iuppiter, Mars pater, Quirine, Bellona, Lares, Diui Nouensiles, Di Indigetes, Diui, quorum est potestas nostrorum hostiumque, Dique Manes, uos precor ueneror, ueniam peto feroque, uti populo Romano Quiritium uim uictoriam prosperetis hostesque populi Romani Quiritium terrore formidine morteque adficiatis. sicut uerbis nuncupaui, ita pro re publica [pouli Romani] Quiritium, exercitu, legionibus, auxiliis populi Romani Quiritium, legiones auxiliaque hostium mecum Deis Manibus Tellurique deuoueo.' haec ita precatus lictores ire ad T. Manlium iubet matureque collegae se deuotum pro exercitu nuntiare; ipse incinctus cinctu Gabino, armatus in equum insiluit ac se in medios hostes immisit, conspectus ab utraque acie, aliquanto augustior humano uisu, sicut caelo missus piaculum omnis deorum irae qui pestem ab suis auersam in hostes ferret. ita omnis terror pauorque cum illo latus signa primo Latinorum turbauit, deinde in totam penitus aciem peruasit. euidentissimum id fuit quod, quacumque equo inuectus est, ibi haud secus quam pestifero sidere icti pauebant; ubi uero corruit obrutus telis, inde iam haud dubie consternatae cohortes Latinorum fugam ac uastitatem late fecerunt. simul et Romani exsolutis religione animis, uelut tum primum signo dato coorti pugnam integram ediderunt; nam et rorarii procurrerant inter antepilanos addiderantque uires hastatis ac principibus et triarii genu dextro innixi nutum consulis ad consurgendum exspectabant.