With this answer the Albans returned to their city, and both sides prepared for war with the greatest energy —a civil war, to all intents and purposes, almost as if fathers were arrayed against sons; [p. 79]
for both were of Trojan ancestry, since Lavinium had1
been planted from Troy, Alba from Lavinium, and from the line of the Alban kings had come the Romans.
Still, the issue of the war made the struggle less deplorable, for no battle was fought, and when only the buildings of one of the cities had been destroyed, the two peoples were fused into one.
The Albans were first in the field, and with a great army invaded the Roman territory. Their camp they pitched not more than five miles from the City, and surrounded it with a trench. (This was known for some centuries as the Cluilian Trench, from the name of the general, until in the course of time both trench and name disappeared.)
In this camp Cluilius the Alban king died, and the Albans chose as dictator Mettius Fufetius. Meantime Tullus, emboldened principally by the death of the king, and asserting that Heaven's great powers would take vengeance upon all of the Alban name, beginning with their king himself, for their unscrupulous war, made a night march past the enemy's camp and led his army into the country of the Albans. This move drew Mettius out from his fortifications.
Leading his troops the shortest way towards the enemy, he sent an envoy on ahead to say to Tullus that before they fought it was well that they should confer together; if Tullus would meet him he was confident he had that to say which would be of no less moment to the Roman state than to the Alban. Without rejecting this suggestion, Tullus nevertheless drew up his men in line of battle, in case the proposals should prove impracticable.
On the other side the Albans also formed up. When both armies had been marshalled, the leaders, [p. 81]
attended by a few of their nobles, advanced to2
the middle of the field.
Then the Alban began as follows:
“Pillage and failure to make the amends demanded in accordance with our treaty I think I have myself heard named by our king, Cluilius, as the occasion of this war, and I doubt not, Tullus, but you make the same contention. But if truth is to be spoken, rather than sophistries, it is greed for dominion that is goading two kindred and neighbouring peoples into war.
Whether rightly or wrongly I do not attempt to determine; that is a question that may well have been considered by him who undertook the war; I am only the general appointed by the Albans to prosecute that war. But this is the point, Tullus, which I wish to suggest to you: Of the magnitude of the Etruscan power which encompasses us, and you especially, you are better aware than we, in proportion as you are nearer to that people. Great is their strength on land, exceedingly great on the sea.
You must consider that the instant you give the signal for battle, the Tuscans will be watching our two armies, so that, when we have become tired and exhausted, they may attack at once the victor and the vanquished. In Heaven's name, therefore, since we are not content with unquestioned liberty, but are proceeding to the doubtful hazard of dominion or enslavement, let us adopt some plan by which we may decide the question which nation shall rule the other, without a great disaster and much carnage on both sides.”
Tullus made no objection, though inclined to war by nature no less than by his anticipation of victory. While both parties were considering what to do, a plan was hit upon for the execution of which Fortune herself supplied the means.