It happened that there were in each of the two armies three brothers1
born at one birth, unequal neither in age nor strength. That they were called Horatii and Curiatii is certain enough; nor is there any circumstance of antiquity more celebrated; yet in a matter so well ascertained, a doubt remains concerning their names, to which nation the Horatii and to which the Curiatii belonged. Authors claim them for both sides; yet I find more who call the Horatii Romans. My inclination leads me to follow them.
The kings confer with the three brothers, that they should fight with their swords each in defence of their respective country; (assuring them) that dominion would be on that side on which victory should be.
No objection is made; time and place are agreed on. Before they engaged, a compact is entered into between the Romans and Albans on these conditions, that the state whose champions should come off victorious in that combat, should rule the other state without further dispute. Different treaties are made on [p. 33]
different terms, but they are all concluded in the same general method.
We have heard that it was then concluded as follows, nor is there a more ancient record of any treaty. A herald asked king Tullus thus, “Do you command me, O king, to conclude a treaty with the pater patratus of the Alban people?” After the king had given command, he said, “I demand vervain of thee, O king.”
To which the king replied, “Take some that is pure.” The herald brought a pure blade of grass from the citadel; again he asked the king thus, “Dost thou, O king, appoint me the royal delegate of the Roman people, the Quirites? including
my vessels and attendants?”
The king answered, “That which may be done without detriment to me and to the Roman people, the Quirites, I do.” The herald was M. Valerius, who appointed Sp. Fusius pater patratus, touching his head and hair with the vervain. The pater patratus is appointed “ad jusjurandum patrandum,” that is, to ratify the treaty; and he goes through it in a great many words, which, being expressed in a long set form, it is not worth while repeating.
After setting forth the conditions, he says, “Hear, O Jupiter; hear, O pater patratus of the Alban people, and ye, Alban people, hear. As those (conditions), from first to last, have been recited openly from those tablets or wax without wicked fraud, and as they have been most correctly understood here this day, from those conditions the Roman people will not be the first to swerve.
If they first swerve by public concert, by wicked fraud, on that day do thou, O Jupiter, so strike the Roman people, as I shall here this day strike this swine; and do thou strike them so much the more, as thou art more able and more powerful.”
When he said this, he struck the swine with a flint stone. The Albans likewise went through their own form and oath by their own dictator and priests.