the cavalry had been sent on in advance to conduct the population to Rome
; they were followed by the legions, who were marched thither to destroy the city.
When they entered the gates there was not that noise and panic which are usually found in captured cities, where, after the gates have been shattered or the walls levelled by the battering-ram or the citadel stormed, the shouts of the enemy and the rushing of the soldiers through the streets throw everything into universal confusion with fire and sword.
Here, on the contrary, gloomy silence and a grief beyond words so petrified the minds of all, that, forgetting in their terror what to leave behind, what to take with them, incapable of thinking for themselves and asking one another's advice, at one moment they would stand on their thresholds, at another wander aimlessly through their houses, which they were seeing then for the last time.
But now they were roused by the shouts of the cavalry ordering their instant departure, now by the crash of the houses undergoing demolition, heard in the furthest corners of the city, and the dust, rising in different places, which covered everything like a cloud. Seizing hastily what they could carry, they went out of the city, and left behind their hearths and household gods and the homes in which they had been born and brought up.
Soon an unbroken line of emigrants filled the streets, and as they recognised one another the sense of their common misery led to fresh outbursts of tears. Cries of grief, especially from the women, began to make themselves heard, as they walked past the venerable temples and saw them occupied by troops, and felt that they were leaving their gods as prisoners in an enemy's hands.
When the Albans had left their city the Romans levelled to the ground all the public and private edifices in every direction, and a single hour gave over to destruction and ruin the work of those four centuries during which Alba had stood. The temples of the gods, however, were spared, in accordance with the king's proclamation.