Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: Caecina revelled more freely in plunder
Do not display Latin text
History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book III Chapter 62: The Battle with the Sabines.[449 BC]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
The Romans had not only recovered their courage, but they were burning with indignation. The other army, they said, was about to return to the City in triumph, whilst they were exposed to the taunts of an insolent foe. When would they ever be a match for the enemy if they were not now? The consul [Note 1] became aware of these murmurings of discontent, and after summoning the soldiers to an assembly, addressed them as follows: "How the battle was fought on Algidus, soldiers, I suppose you have heard. The army behaved as the army of a free people ought to behave. The victory was won by the generalship of my colleague and the bravery of his soldiers. As far as I am concerned, I am ready to adopt that plan of operations which you, my soldiers, have the courage to execute. The war may either be prolonged with advantage, or brought to an early close. If it is to be protracted I shall continue the method of training which I have begun, so that your spirits and courage may rise day by day. If you want it brought to a decisive issue, come now, raise such a shout as you will raise in battle as a proof of your willingness and courage." After they had raised the shout with great alacrity, he assured them that, with the blessing of heaven, he would comply with their wishes and lead them out to battle on the morrow. The rest of the day was spent in getting their armour and weapons ready.

No sooner did the Sabines see the Romans forming in order of battle the next morning than they also advanced to an engagement which they had long been eager for. The battle was such as would be expected between armies both of which were full of self-confidence -- the one proud of its old and unbroken renown, the other flushed with its recent victory. The Sabines called strategy to their aid, for, after giving their line an extent equal to that of the enemy, they kept 2000 men in reserve to make an impression on the Roman left when the battle was at its height. By this flank attack they had almost surrounded and were beginning to overpower that wing, when the cavalry of the two legions -- about 600 strong- -sprang from their horses and rushed to the front to support their comrades, who were now giving way. They checked the enemy's advance and at the same time roused the courage of the infantry by sharing their danger, and appealing to their sense of shame, by showing that whilst the cavalry could fight either mounted or on foot, the infantry, trained to fight on foot, were inferior even to dismounted cavalry.

Note 1: consul = Horatius

Event: War with Sabines and Aequi

Ad id, quod sua sponte satis collectum animorum erat, indignitate etiam Romani accendebantur: iam alterum exercitum uictorem in urbem rediturum; sibi ultro per contumelias hostem insultare; quando autem se, si tum non sint, pares hostibus fore? Vbi haec fremere militem in castris consul sensit, contione aduocata, 'quemadmodum' inquit, 'in Algido res gesta sit, arbitror uos, milites, audisse. Qualem liberi populi exercitum decuit esse, talis fuit; consilio collegae, uirtute militum uictoria parta est. Quod ad me attinet, id consilii animique habiturus sum, quod uos mihi feceritis. Et trahi bellum salubriter et mature perfici potest. Si trahendum est, ego ut in dies spes uirtusque uestra crescat, eadem qua institui disciplina efficiam; si iam satis animi est decernique placet, agite dum, clamorem qualem in acie sublaturi estis, tollite hic indicem uoluntatis uirtutisque uestrae.' Postquam ingenti alacritate clamor est sublatus, quod bene uertat gesturum se illis morem posteroque die in aciem deducturum adfirmat. Reliquum diei apparandis armis consumptum est. Postero die simul instrui Romanam aciem Sabini uidere et ipsi, iam pridem auidi certaminis, procedunt. Proelium fuit, quale inter fidentes sibimet ambo exercitus, ueteris perpetuaeque alterum gloriae, alterum nuper noua uictoria elatum. Consilio etiam Sabini uires adiuuere; nam cum aequassent aciem, duo extra ordinem milia quae in sinistrum cornu Romanorum in ipso certamine impressionem facerent tenuere. Quae ubi inlatis ex transuerso signis degrauabant prope circumuentum cornu, equites duarum legionum, sescenti fere, ex equis desiliunt cedentibusque iam suis prouolant in primum, simulque et hosti se opponunt et aequato primum periculo, pudore deinde animos peditum accendunt. Verecundiae erat equitem suo alienoque Marte pugnare, peditem ne ad pedes quidem degresso equiti parem esse.