When these occurrences had been faithfully reported to Tarquinius, he was stirred not only by disappointment at the collapse of so great hopes, but also by hatred and anger. He saw that the way was now closed against trickery, and believed it was time to contrive an open war.
He therefore went about as a suppliant amongst the cities of Etruria, directing his prayers chiefly to the Veientes and the Tarquinienses. Reminding them that he had come from them and was of the same blood as themselves, and that exile and poverty had followed hard upon his loss of what had been but now great power, he besought them not to let him perish, with his youthful sons, before their very eyes.
Others had been called in from abroad to be kings in Rome: he himself, while actually king, and enlarging Rome's sway by war, had been driven out by his next-of-kin in a wicked conspiracy. His enemies, perceiving that no single claimant was fit to be king, had seized and usurped the power amongst themselves, and had given up his goods to be plundered by the people, that none might be without a share in the guilt. He wished to regain his country and his sovereignty, and to punish the ungrateful Romans.
Let them [p. 237]
succour and support him, and avenge, as well, their1
own long-standing grievances, the oft-repeated destruction of their armies, and seizure of their lands. This last plea moved the men of Veii, and they cried out with threatenings that they ought, at all events with a Roman for their commander, to wipe out their disgraces and recover what they had lost in war.
The Tarquinienses were influenced by his name and kinship: it seemed a fine thing to them that one of their blood should be king in Rome.
So it came about that two armies, representing two nations, followed Tarquinius, to regain his kingdom for him and to chastise the Romans. When they had come into Roman territory the consuls went out to meet the enemy: Valerius led the foot in defensive formation; Brutus, with the cavalry, went ahead to scout.
In the same fashion the enemy's horse headed their march, commanded by Arruns Tarquinius, the king's son, while the king himself followed with the legions. Arruns, perceiving a long way off by the consul's lictors that it was he, and then, as they drew nearer together, recognizing Brutus more unmistakably by his countenance, blazed with resentment. “Yonder,” he cried, “is the man who drove us into exile from our native land. Look!
He is himself decked out with our trappings, as he comes proudly on! O gods, avengers of kings, be with us!” Spurring his horse, he charged straight at the consul. Brutus saw that he was the object of the man's attack.
In those days it was to a general's credit to take part in the actual fighting, so he eagerly accepted the challenge, and they rushed at one another with such desperation, neither of them taking thought for his own defence if only he might wound his adversary, that [p. 239]
each was pierced right through his shield by the2
other's thrust, and, impaled upon the two spears, they fell dying from their horses.
At the same time the rest of the cavalry as well began to fight, and not long after the infantry also appeared. In this battle the advantage was divided, and the fortune of war seemed equally balanced: the right wing on each side was victorious, while the left was defeated.
The Veientes, used to being beaten by the Roman troops, were routed and dispersed; the men of Tarquinii, a new enemy, not only stood their ground, but drove back the Roman forces which opposed them.