While this was going on, horsemen had already been sent on to Alba to fetch the inhabitants to Rome, and afterwards the legions were marched over to demolish the city.
When they entered the gates there was not, indeed, the tumult and panic which usually follow the capture of a city, when its gates have been forced or its walls breached with a ram or its stronghold stormed, when the shouts of the enemy and the rush of armed men through the streets throw the whole town into a wild confusion of blood and fire.
But at Alba oppressive silence and grief that found no words quite overwhelmed the spirits of all the people; too dismayed to think what they should take with them and what leave behind, they would ask each other's advice again and again, now standing on their thresholds, and now roaming aimlessly through the houses they were to look upon for that last time.
But when at length the horsemen began to be urgent, and clamorously commanded them to come out; when they could now hear the crash of the buildings which were being pulled down in the outskirts of the city; when the dust rising in different quarters had overcast the sky like a gathering cloud; then everybody made haste to carry out what he could, and forth they went, abandoning their lares and penates,1
and the houses where they had been born and brought up.
And now the streets were filled with an unbroken [p. 107]
procession of emigrants, whose mutual pity, as they2
gazed at one another, caused their tears to start afresh; plaintive cries too began to be heard, proceeding chiefly from the women, when they passed the venerable temples beset by armed men, and left in captivity, as it seemed to them, their gods.
When the Albans had quitted the city, the Romans everywhere levelled with the ground all buildings, both public and private, and a single hour gave over to destruction and desolation the work of the four hundred years during which Alba had stood. But the temples of the gods were spared, for so the king had decreed.