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 The day was consumed in preparations till the ninth hour,1 at which time two eagles fell upon each other and fought in the space between the armies, amid the profoundest silence. When the one on the side of Brutus took flight his enemies raised a great shout and battle was joined.2 The onset was superb and terrible. They had little need of arrows, stones, or javelins, which are customary in war, for they did not resort to the usual manœuvres and tactics of battles, but, coming to close combat with naked swords, they slew and were slain, seeking to break each other's ranks. On the one side it was a fight for self-preservation rather than victory; on the other for victory and for the satisfaction of the general who had been forced to fight against his will. The slaughter and the groans were terrible. The bodies of the fallen were carried back and others stepped into their places from the rear ranks. The generals flew hither and thither overlooking everything, exciting the men by their ardor, exhorting the toilers to toil on, and relieving those who were exhausted so that there was always fresh courage at the front. Finally, the soldiers of Octavius, either from fear of famine, or by the good fortune of Octavius himself (for the soldiers of Brutus were not blameworthy), pushed back the enemy's line as though they were putting in motion a very heavy machine. The latter were driven back step by step, slowly at first and without loss of courage. Presently their ranks began to dissolve and they retreated more rapidly, and then the second and third ranks in the rear retreated with them, all mingled together in disorder, crowded by each other and by the enemy, who pressed upon them without ceasing until it became plainly a flight. The soldiers of Octavius, then especially mindful of the order they had received, seized the gates of the enemy's fortification, but at great risk to themselves because they were exposed to missiles from above and in front, but they prevented a great many of the enemy from gaining entrance. These fled, some to the sea, and some through the river Zygactes to the mountains.
1 The Roman day, from sunrise to sunset, was divided into twelve hours. The ninth hour was three o'clock in the afternoon.
2 Plutarch relates this and several other prodigies on the authority of Publius Volumnius, a philosopher, who was serving in the army under Brutus. One of these was of a very unusual kind. The arm of one of the centurions in Brutus' camp sweated oil of roses; and although it was several times wiped and dried, it did not cease. (Life of Brutus, 48.) What this portended we are not informed.
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