gods and men alike prevented the Romans from living as a ransomed people. By a dispensation of Fortune it came about that before the infamous ransom was completed and all the gold weighed out, whilst the dispute was still going on, the Dictator appeared on the scene and ordered the gold to be carried away and the Gauls to move off.
As they declined to do so, and protested that a definite compact had been made, he informed them that when he was once appointed Dictator no compact was valid which was made by an inferior magistrate without his sanction.
He then warned the Gauls to prepare for battle, and ordered his men to pile their baggage into a heap, get their weapons ready, and win their country back by steel, not by gold. They must keep before their eyes the temples of the gods, their wives and children, and their country's soil, disfigured by the ravages of war —everything, in a word, which it was their duty to defend, to recover or to avenge.
He then drew up his men in the best formation that the nature of the ground, naturally uneven and now half burnt, admitted, and made every provision that his military skill suggested for securing the advantage of position and movement for his men.
The Gauls, alarmed at the turn things had taken, seized their weapons and rushed upon the Romans with more rage than method.
Fortune had now turned, divine aid and human skill were on the side of Rome. At the very first encounter the Gauls were routed as easily as they had conquered at the Alia.
In a second and more sustained battle at the eighth milestone on the road to Gabii, where they had rallied from their flight, they were again defeated under the generalship and auspices of Camillus.
Here the carnage was complete; the camp was taken, and not a single man was left to carry tidings of the disaster.
After thus recovering his country from the enemy, the Dictator returned in triumph to the City, and amongst the homely jests which soldiers are wont to bandy, he was called in no idle words of praise, ‘A Romulus,’ ‘The Father of his country,’ ‘The Second Founder of the City.’
He had saved his country in war, and now that peace was restored, he proved, beyond all doubt, to be its saviour again, when he prevented the migration to Veii.
The tribunes of the plebs were urging this course more strongly than ever now that the City was burnt, and the plebs were themselves more in favour of it.
This movement and the pressing appeal which the senate made to him not to abandon the republic while the position of affairs was so doubtful, determined him not to lay down his dictatorship after his triumph.