The treaty being concluded, the twin-brothers, as had been agreed, take arms. Whilst their respective friends exhortingly reminded each party "that their country's gods, their country and parents, all their countrymen both at home and in the army, had their eyes then fixed on their arms, on their hands; naturally brave, and animated by the exhortations of their friends, they advance into the midst between the two lines.
The two armies sat down before their respective camps, free rather from present danger than from anxiety: for the sove- [p. 34]
reign power was at stake, depending on the valour and fortune of so few. Accordingly, therefore, eager and anxious, they have their attention intensely riveted on a spectacle far from pleasing. The signal is given.:
and the three youths on each side, as if in battle-array, rush to the charge with determined fury, bearing in their breasts the spirits of mighty armies: nor do the one or the other regard their personal danger; the public dominion or slavery is present to their mind, and the fortune1
of their country, which was ever after destined to be such as they should now establish it.
As soon as their arms clashed on the first encounter, and their burnished swords glittered, great horror strikes the. spectators; and, hope inclining to neither side, their voice and breath were suspended.
Then having engaged hand to hand, when not only the movements of their bodies, and the rapid brandishings of their arms and weapons, but wounds also and blood were seen, two of the Romans fell lifeless, one upon the other, the three Albans being wounded.
And when the Alban army raised a shout of joy at their fall, hope entirely, anxiety however not yet, deserted the Roman legions, alarmed for the lot of the one, whom the three Curiatii surrounded.
He happened to be unhurt, so that, though alone he was by no means a match for them all together, yet he was confident against each singly. In order therefore to separate their attack, he takes to flight, presuming that they would pursue him with such swiftness as the wounded state of his body would suffer each.
He had now fled a considerable distance from the place where they had fought, when, looking behind, he perceives them pursuing him at great intervals from each other; and that one of them was not far from him. On him he turned round with great fury.
And whilst the Alban army shouts out to the Curiatii to succour their brother, Horatius, victorious in having slain his antagonist, was now proceeding to a second attack. Then the Romans encourage their champion with a shout such as is usually (given) by persons cheering in consequence of unexpected success: he also hastens to put an end to the combat.
Wherefore before the other, who was not far off, could come [p. 35]
up, he despatches the second Curiatius also.
And now, the combat being brought to an equality of numbers, one on each side remained, but they were equal neither in hope nor in strength. The one his body untouched by a weapon, and a double victory made courageous for a third contest: the other dragging along his body exhausted from the wound, exhausted from running, and dispirited by the slaughter of his brethren before his eyes, presents himself to his victorious antagonist. Nor was that a fight.
The Roman, exulting, says, “Two I have offered to the shades of my brothers: the third I will offer to the cause of this war, that the Roman may rule over the Alban.” He thrusts his sword down into his throat, whilst faintly sustaining the weight of his armour: he strips him as he lies prostrate.
The Romans receive Horatius with triumph and congratulation; with so much the greater joy, as success had followed so close on fear. They then turn to the burial of their friends with dispositions by no means alike; for the one side was elated with (the acquisition of) empire, the other subjected to foreign jurisdiction:
their sepulchres are still extant in the place where each fell; the two Roman ones in one place nearer to Alba, the three Alban ones towards Rome; but distant in situation from each other, and just as they fought.2