The Sabines, however, kept possession of the citadel, and on the day after, when the Roman army, drawn up in order of battle, filled up all the ground lying between the Palatine and Capitoline hills, they did not descend from thence into the plain, till the Romans, fired with resentment, and with a desire of retaking the citadel, advanced to attack them.
Two chiefs, one on each side, animated the battle, viz. Mettus Curtius on the part of the Sabines, Hostus Hostilius on that of the Romans. The latter, in the front ranks, supported the Roman cause by his courage and bravery, on disadvantageous ground.
As soon as Hostus fell, the Roman line immediately gave way and was beaten to the old gate of the Palatium.
Romulus, himself too carried away with the general rout, raising his arms to heaven, says, “O Jupiter, commanded by thy birds, I here laid the first foundation of the city on the Palatine hill. The Sabines are in possession of the citadel, purchased by fraud. From thence they are now advancing hither, sword in hand, having already passed the middle of the valley.
But do thou, father of gods and men, keep back the enemy at least from hence, dispel the terror of the Romans, and stop their shameful flight.
Here I solemnly vow to build a temple to thee as Jupiter Stator, as a monument to posterity, that this city was saved by thy immediate aid.”
Having offered up this prayer, as if he had felt that his prayers were heard, he cries out, “At this spot, Romans, Jupiter, supremely good and great, commands you to halt, and renew the fight.” The Romans halted as if they had been commanded by a [p. 19]
voice from heaven; Romulus himself flies to the foremost ranks.
Mettus Curtius, on the part of the Sabines, had rushed down at the head of his army from the citadel, and driven the Romans in disorder over the whole ground now occupied by the forum. He was already not far from the gate of the Palatium, crying out, “We have defeated these perfidious strangers, these dastardly enemies. They now feel that it is one thing to ravish virgins, another far different to fight with men.”
On him, thus vaunting, Romulus makes an attack with a band of the most courageous youths. It happened that Mettus was then fighting on horseback; he was on that account the more easily repulsed: the Romans pursue him when repulsed: and the rest of the Roman army, encouraged by the gallant behaviour of their king, routs the Sabines.
Mettus, his horse taking fright at the din of his pursuers, threw himself into a lake; and this circumstance drew the attention of the Sabines at the risk of so important a person. He, however, his own party beckoning and calling to him, acquires new courage from the affection of his many friends, and makes his escape. The Romans and Sabines renew the battle in the valley between the hills; but Roman prowess had the advantage.