An almost certain hope was entertained that they would no more fight with them than they had don with the Aequi; that even some more serious attempt was not to be despaired of, considering the irritated state of their feelings, and the very critical occasion.
The affair turned out altogether differently; for never before in any other war did the Roman soldiers enter the field with more determined minds (so much had the enemy exasperated them by taunts on the one hand, and the consuls by delay on the other). The
Etrurians had scarcely time to form their ranks, when the javelins having been thrown away at random, in the first hurry, rather than discharged with aim, the battle had now come to close fighting, even to swords, where the fury of war is most desperate.
Among the foremost the Fabian family was distinguished for the sight it afforded and the example it presented to their fellow citizens; one of these, Q. Fabius, (he had been consul two years before,) as he was advancing at the head of his men against a dense body of Veientians, and whilst engaged amid numerous parties of the enemy, and therefore not prepared for it, was transfixed with a sword through the breast by a Tuscan who presumed on his bodily strength and skill in arms: on the weapon being extracted, Fabius fell forward on the wound.
Both armies felt the fall of this one man, and the Roman began in consequence to give way, when the consul Marcus Fabius leaped over the body as it lay, and holding up his buckler, said, “Is this what you swore, soldiers, that you would return to the camp in flight?
are you thus more afraid of your most dastardly enemies, than of Jupiter and Mars, by whom you have sworn? But I who have not sworn will either return victorious, or will fall fighting here beside thee, Q. Fabius.” Then Kaeso Fabius, the consul of the preceding year, says to the consul, “Brother, is it by these words you think you will prevail on them to fight?
the gods by whom they have sworn will prevail n them. Let us also, as men of noble birth, as is worthy of the Fabian name, enkindle the courage of the soldiers by fighting rather than by exhorting.” Thus the two Fabii rush forward to the [p. 136]
front with presented spears, and brought on with them the whole line.