Afterwards, as the contest proceeded, when the superior numbers of the Latins had the advantage in some places, the consul, Manlius, on hearing the circumstance of his colleague's death, after he had, as was right and just, honoured his so glorious a death with tears, as well as with praises so well merited, hesitated, for a little time, whether it was yet time for the Triarii to rise;
then judging it better that they should be kept fresh for the decisive blow, he ordered the Accensi to advance from the rear before the standards.
When they moved forward, the Latins immediately called up their Triarii, as if their opponents had done the same thing: who, when they had by desperate fighting for a considerable time both fatigued themselves, and had either broken or blunted their spears, and were, however, beating back their adversaries, thinking that the battle was now nearly decided, and that they had come to the last line; then the consul.
calls to the Triarii, “Arise now, fresh as ye are, against men now wearied, mindful of your country and parents, your wives and children; mindful of your consul who has submitted to death to insure your victory.”
When the Triarii arose, fresh as they were, with their arms glittering, a new line which appeared unexpectedly, receiving the antepilani into the intervals between the ranks, raised a shout, and broke through the first line of the Latins;
and goading their faces, after cutting down those [p. 517]
who constituted their principal strength, they passed almost intact through the other companies, with such slaughter that they scarcely left one fourth of the enemy. The Samnites also, drawn up at a distance at the foot of the mountain, struck terror into the Latins.
But of all, whether citizens or allies, the principal praise for that action was due to the consuls; the one of whom turned on himself alone all the threats and dangers (denounced) by the divinities of heaven and hell; the other evinced such valour and such judgment in the battle, that it was universally agreed among both the Romans and Latins who have transmitted to posterity an account of the battle, that, on whichever side Titus Manlius held the command, the victory must belong to that.
The Latins in their flight betook themselves to Minturnae. Immediately after the battle the camp was taken, and great numbers still alive were surprised therein, chiefly Campanians. Night surprised them in their search, and prevented the body of Decius from being discovered on that day.
On the day after it was found amid vast heaps of slaughtered enemies, pierced with a great number of darts, and his funeral was solemnized under the direction of his colleague, in a manner suited to his death.
It seems right to add here, that it is lawful for a consul, a dictator, and a praetor, when he devotes the legions of the enemy, to devote not himself particularly, but whatever citizen he may choose out of a Roman legion regularly enrolled:
if the person who has been devoted die, the matter is duly performed; if he do not perish, then an image, seven feet high or more, must be buried in the ground, and a victim slain, as an expiation.
Where that image shall be buried, there it is not lawful that a Roman magistrate should pass. But if he wish to devote himself, as Decius did, unless he who has devoted himself die, he shall not with propriety perform any act of religion regarding either himself or the public. Should he wish to devote his arms to Vulcan or to any other god, he has a right, whether he shall lease, by a victim, or in any other manner.
It is not proper that the enemy should get possession of the weapon, on which the consul, standing, pronounced the imprecation: if they should get possession of it, then an expiation must be made to Mars by the sacrifices called the Suove-taurilia.
Although the memory of every divine and human custom has been obliter- [p. 518]
ated, in consequence of preferring what is modern and foreign to that which is ancient and belonging to our own country, I deemed it not irrelevant to relate the particulars even in the very terms used, as they have been handed down and expressed.