The struggle then lay between the best men of both nations, and whatever losses the chance of war inflicted on either side were serious out of all proportion to their number. The common herd of soldiers, as though they had made over the battle to their betters, rested their future on the bravery of [p. 381]
others. Many on both sides were slain and more1
At length the knights began to rail at one another. What else, they asked, was there to do, if they had neither beaten the enemy when mounted, nor were able to accomplish anything on foot? What third kind of battle were they waiting for?
What good had they done by dashing boldly out in front of the line and fighting in a place that belonged to others? Stirred by these mutual reproaches, they advanced with renewed cheering, and first they made the enemy yield, then forced them back, and finally routed them in no uncertain fashion.
What it was that turned the scale, where forces were so evenly matched, would be hard to say, unless the fortune regularly attendant on each nation had the power to quicken or to daunt their resolution.
The Romans chased the fleeing Hernici clear to their camp, which, owing to the lateness of the hour, they refrained from attacking; —the dictator had been unable to give the battle-signal before noon, having failed for a long time to obtain favourable omens, for which reason the struggle had been protracted until night.
—On the following day the camp was discovered to have been deserted by the fleeing Hernici, and a few of their wounded were found, whom they had left behind. The column of fugitives was passing the walls of Signia, when the townsfolk espied their thinly attended ensigns, and falling upon them, scattered them in headlong flight across the country.
Yet the Romans got no bloodless victory: they lost a fourth part of their foot, and a number of Roman horsemen fell, which was no less grave a loss.