For when the Praenestines had been informed that no army was levied at Rome, no general fixed on, that the senate and people were turned the one against the other;
their leaders thinking that an opportunity presented itself, making a hasty march, and laying waste the country as they went along, they advanced their standards as far as the Colline gate.
Tile panic in the city was great. The alarm was given to take up arms; persons ran together to the walls and gates, and at length turning from sedition to war, they created Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus dictator.
He appointed Aulus Sempronius Atratinus his master of the horse. When this was heard, (such was the terror of that office,) the enemy retired from the walls, and the young Romans assembled to the edict without refusal.
Whilst the army is being levied at Rome, in the [p. 427]
mean time the enemy's camp is pitched not far from the river Allia: thence laying waste the land far and wide, they boasted one to the other that they had chosen a place fatal to the Roman city; that there would be a similar consternation and flight from thence as occurred in the Gallic war.
For “if the Romans dread a day deemed inauspicious, and marked with the name of that place, how much more than the Allian day would they dread the Allia itself, the monument of so great a disaster. No doubt the fierce looks of the Gauls and the sound of their voices would recur to their eyes and ears.”
Turning over in mind those groundless notions of circumstances as groundless, they rested their hopes on the fortune of the place. On the other hand, the Romans [considered] that, “in whatever place a Latin enemy stood, they knew full well that they were the same whom, after having utterly defeated at the lake Regillus, they kept in peaceable subjection for one hundred years;
that the place being distinguished by the memory of their defeat, would rather stimulate them to blot out the remembrance of their disgrace, than raise a fear that any land should be unfavourable to their success.
Were even the Gauls themselves presented to them in that place, that they would fight just as they fought at Rome in recovering their country, as the day after at Gabii; then, when they took care, that no enemy, who had entered the walls of Rome, should carry home an account of their success or defeat.”