Mucius being dismissed, to whom the cognomen of Scaevola was afterwards given, from the loss of his right hand, ambassadors from Porsena followed him to Rome.
The risk of the first attempt, from which nothing had saved him but the mistake of the assailant, and the risk to be encountered so often in proportion to the number of conspirators, made so strong an impression upon him, that of his own accord he made propositions of peace to the Romans.
Mention was made to no purpose regarding the restoration of the Tarquinii to the throne, rather because he had been unable to refuse that to the Tarquinii, than from not knowing that it would be refused to him by the Romans.
The condition of restoring their territory to the Veientians was obtained by him, and the necessity of giving hostages in case they wished the garrison to be withdrawn from the Janiculum was extorted from the Romans.
Peace being concluded on these terms, Porsena drew his troops out of the Janiculum, and marched out of the Roman territories. The fathers gave Mucius, as a reward of his valour, lands on the other side of the Tiber, which were afterwards called the Mucian meadows.
By this honour paid to valour the women were excited to merit public distinctions. As the camp of the Etrurians had been pitched not far from the banks of the Tiber, a young lady named Claelia, one of the hostages, deceiving her keepers, swam over the river, amidst the darts of the enemy, at the head of a troop of virgins, and brought them all safe to their relations.
When the king was informed of this, at first highly incensed, he sent deputies to Rome to demand the hostage Claelia; that he did not regard the others;
and afterwards, being changed into admiration of her courage, he said, “that this action surpassed those of Cocles and Mucius,” and declared, “as he would consider the treaty as broken if the hostage were not delivered up, so, if given up, he would send her back safe to her friends.”
Both sides kept their faith: the Romans restored their pledge of peace according to treaty; and with the king of Etruria merit found not only security, [p. 96]
but honour; and, after making encomiums on the young lady, promised to give her, as a present, half of the hostages, and that she should choose whom she pleased.
When they were all brought out, she is said to have pitched upon the young boys below puberty, which was both consonant to maiden delicacy, and by consent of the hostages themselves it was deemed reasonable, that that age which was most exposed to injury should be freed from the enemy's hand.
The peace being re-established, the Romans marked the uncommon instance of bravery in the woman, by an uncommon kind of honour, an equestrian statue; (the statue representing) a lady sitting on horseback was placed at the top of the Via Sacra.