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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 38: Invasion of the Gauls. A lost battle.[390 BC]
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The consular tribunes had secured no position for their camp, had constructed no entrenchments behind which to retire, and had shown as much disregard of the gods as of the enemy, for they formed their order of battle without having obtained favourable auspices. They extended their line on either wing to prevent their being outflanked, but even so they could not make their front equal to the enemy's, whilst by thus thinning their line they weakened the centre so that it could hardly keep in touch. On their right was a small eminence which they decided to hold with reserves, and this disposition, though it was the beginning of the panic and flight, proved to be the only means of safety to the fugitives. For Brennus, the Gaulish chieftain fearing some ruse in the scanty numbers of the enemy, and thinking that the rising ground was occupied in order that the reserves might attack the flank and rear of the Gauls while their front was engaged with the legions, directed his attack upon the reserves, feeling quite certain that if he drove them from their position, his overwhelming numbers would give him an easy victory on the level ground. So not only Fortune but tactics also were on the side of the barbarians. In the other army there was nothing to remind one of Romans either amongst the generals or the private soldiers. They were terrified, and all they thought about was flight, and so utterly had they lost their heads that a far greater number fled to Veii, a hostile city, though the Tiber lay in their way, than by the direct road to Rome, to their wives and children.

For a short time the reserves were protected by their position. In the rest of the army, no sooner was the battle-shout heard on their flank by those nearest to the reserves, and then by those at the other end of the line heard in their rear, than they fled, whole and unhurt, almost before they had seen their untried foe, without any attempt to fight or even to give back the battle-shout. None were slain while actually fighting; they were cut down from behind whilst hindering one another's flight in a confused, struggling mass. Along the bank of the Tiber, whither the whole of the left wing had fled, after throwing away their arms, there was great slaughter. Many who were unable to swim or were hampered by the weight of their cuirasses and other armour were sucked down by the current. The greater number, however, reached Veii in safety, yet not only were no troops sent from there to defend the City, but not even was a messenger despatched to report the defeat to Rome. All the men on the right wing, which had been stationed some distance from the river, and nearer to the foot of the hill, made for Rome and took refuge in the Citadel without even closing the City gates.

Event: The battle of Allia

Ibi tribuni militum non loco castris ante capto, non praemunito uallo quo receptus esset, non deorum saltem si non hominum memores, nec auspicato nec litato, instruunt aciem, diductam in cornua ne circumueniri multitudine hostium possent; nec tamen aequari frontes poterant cum extenuando infirmam et uix cohaerentem mediam aciem haberent. Paulum erat ab dextera editi loci quem subsidiariis repleri placuit, eaque res ut initium pauoris ac fugae, sic una salus fugientibus fuit. Nam Brennus regulus Gallorum in paucitate hostium artem maxime timens, ratus ad id captum superiorem locum ut ubi Galli cum acie legionum recta fronte concucurrissent subsidia in auersos transuersosque impetum darent, ad subsidiarios signa conuertit, si eos loco depulissit haud dubius facilem in aequo campi tantum superanti multitudine uictoriam fore. Adeo non fortuna modo sed ratio etiam cum barbaris stabat. In altera acie nihil simile Romanis, non apud duces, non apud milites erat. Pauor fugaque occupauerat animos et tanta omnium obliuio, ut multo maior pars Veios in hostium urbem, cum Tiberis arceret, quam recto itinere Romam ad coniuges ac liberos fugerent. Parumper subsidiarios tutatus est locus; in reliqua acie simul est clamor proximis ab latere, ultimis ab tergo auditus, ignotum hostem prius paene quam uiderent, non modo non temptato certamine sed ne clamore quidem reddito integri intactique fugerunt; nec ulla caedes pugnantium fuit; terga caesa suomet ipsorum certamine in turba impedientium fugam. Circa ripam Tiberis quo armis abiectis totum sinistrum cornu defugit, magna strages facta est, multosque imperitos nandi aut inualidos, graues loricis aliisque tegminibus, hausere gurgites; maxima tamen pars incolumis Veios perfugit, unde non modo praesidii quicquam sed ne nuntius quidem cladis Romam est missus. Ab dextro cornu quod procul a flumine et magis sub monte steterat, Romam omnes petiere et ne clausis quidem portis urbis in arcem confugerunt.