The Roman consuls, before they marched out their armies to the field, offered sacrifices. The aruspex is said to have shown to Decius the head of the liver wounded on the side relating to himself, in other respects the victim was ac- ceptable to the gods; whilst Manlius obtained highly favour- able omens from his sacrifice. “But all is well,” says Decius, if my colleague has offered an acceptable sacrifice."
The ranks being drawn up in the order already described, they marched forth to battle. Manlius commanded the right, Decius the left wing.
At first the action was conducted with equal strength on both sides, and with the same ardent courage. Afterwards the Roman spearmen on the left wing, not sus- taining the violent assault of the Latins, betook themselves to the principes.
In this state of trepidation the consul Decius cries out with a loud voice to Marcus Valerius, “Valerius, we have need of the aid of the gods. Come, as public pontiff of the Roman people, dictate to me the words in which I may devote myself for the legions.”
The pontiff directed him to take the gown called praetexta, and with his head covered and his hand thrust out under the gown to the chin, standing upon a spear placed under his feet, to say these words:
“Janus, Jupiter, father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, ye Lares, ye gods Novensiles,1
ye gods Indigetes, ye divinities, under whose power we and our enemies are, and ye dii Manes,
I pray you, I adore you, I ask your favour, that you would prosperously grant strength and victory
to the Roman people, the Quirites; and that ye may affect the enemies of the Roman people, the Quirites, with terror, dismay, and death. In such manner as I have expressed in words, so do I devote the legions and auxiliaries of the enemy, together with myself,
to the dii Manes and to Earth for the republic of the Quirites, for the army, legions, auxiliaries of the Roman people, the Quirites.” Having uttered this prayer, he orders the lictors to go to Titus Manlius, and without delay to announce to his colleague that he had devoted himself
for the army. He, girding himself in a Gabine cincture, and fully armed, mounted his horse, and rushed into the midst of the enemy. He was observed by both armies to present a more majestic appearance than human, [p. 516]
as one sent from heaven as an expiation of all the wrath of the gods, to transfer to the enemy destruction turned away from his own side: accordingly,
all the terror and panic being carried along with him, at first disturbed the battalions of the Latins, then completely pervaded their entire line. This
was most evident, because, in whatever direction he was carried with his horse, there they became panic-stricken, as if struck by some pestilential constellation; but when he fell overwhelmed with darts, instantly the cohorts of the Latins, thrown into manifest consternation, took to flight, leaving a void to a considerable extent. At the same time also the Romans, their minds
being freed from religious dread, exerting themselves as if the signal was then given for the first time, commenced to fight with renewed ardour. For the Rorarii also pushed forward among the
antepilani, and added strength to the spearmen and principes, and the Triarii resting on the right knee awaited the consul's nod to rise up.