The rumour spreads through the entire city; they extol the Fabii to the skies by their encomiums. “That a single family had taken on them the burden of the state: that the Veientian war had now become a private concern, a private quarrel.
If there were two families of the same strength in the city, let them demand, the one the Volsci for itself, the other the Aequi; that all the neighbouring states might be subdued, the Roman people all the time enjoying profound peace.” The day following, the Fabii take up arms; they assemble where they had been ordered.
The consul coming forth in his paludamentum,1
beholds his entire family in the porch drawn up in order of march; being
received into the centre, he orders the standards to be carried forward. Never did an army march through the city, either smaller in number, or more distinguished in fame and in the admiration of all men. Three hundred and six soldiers, all patricians, all
of the one stock, not one of whom the senate would reject as a leader in its palmiest days, proceeded on their march, menacing destruction to the Veientian state by the prowess of a single family. A crowd followed, partly belonging to their kinsmen and friends, who contemplated in mind no moderation
either as to their hopes or anxiety, but every thing on the highest scale; partly consisting of individuals not connected with their family, aroused by solicitude for the public weal, all
enraptured with esteem and admiration. They bid them “proceed in the brave resolve, proceed with happy omens, bring back results proportioned to their undertaking: thence to expect consulships and triumphs, all rewards, all honours from them.” As they passed the Capitol and the citadel, and the other sacred edifices, they offer up prayers to all the gods that presented themselves to
their sight, or to their mind: that “they would send forward that band with prosperity and success, and soon send them back safe into their country to their parents.” In vain were these prayers sent up. Having set out on
their luckless road by the right-hand postern of the Carmental gate, they arrive at the river Cremera: his ap- [p. 140]
peared a favourable situation for fortifying a post. L. Aemilius and C. Servilius were then created consuls. And as long as there was nothing else to occupy them but mutual devastations, the Fabii were not only sufficiently able
to protect their garrison, but through the entire tract, as far as the Etrurian joins the Roman territory, they protected all their own districts and ravaged those of the enemy, spreading their forces along both frontiers. There was afterwards an intermission, though not of long duration, to these depredations: whilst both the Veientians, having sent for an army from Etruria, assault the post
at the Cremera, and the Roman troops, led thither by L. Aemilius the consul, come to a close engagement in the field with the Etrurians; although the Veientians had scarcely time to draw up their line: for during the first alarm, whilst the ranks are posting themselves behind their respective banners and they are stationing their reserves, a brigade of Roman cavalry charging them suddenly in flank, took away all opportunity not only of commencing the fight, but even of standing their ground. Thus being driven back to the Red
Rocks, (there they pitched their camp,) they suppliantly sue for peace; for the obtaining of which they were sorry, from the natural inconsistency of their minds, before the Roman garrison was drawn off from the Cremera.