After the issue of this battle, so great a terror seized Tarquin and the Etrurians, that both the armies, the Veientian and Tarquinian, giving up the matter as impracticable, departed to their respective homes.
They annex strange incidents to this battle, —that in the silence of the next night a loud voice was emitted from the Arsian wood; that it was believed to be the voice of Silvanus: these words were spoken, “that more of the Etrurians by one1
had fallen in the battle; that the Roman was victorious in the war.”
Certainly the Romans departed thence as victors, the Etrurians as vanquished. For as soon as it was light, and not one of the enemy was now to be seen, P. Valerius the consul collected the spoils, and returned thence in triumph to Rome.
His colleague's funeral he celebrated with all the magnificence then possible. But a far greater honour to his death was the public sorrow, singularly remarkable in this particular, that the matrons mourned him a year,2
as a parent, because he had been so vigorous an avenger of violated chastity.
Afterwards the consul who survived, so changeable are the minds of the people, from great popularity, encountered not only jealousy, but suspicion, originating in an atrocious charge.
Report represented that he aspired to the crown, because he had not substituted a colleague in the room of Brutus, and was building a house on the summit of Mount Velia, that there would be there an impregnable fortress on an elevated and well-for- [p. 88]
When these things, thus circulated and believed, affected the consul's mind with indignation, having summoned the people to an assembly, he mounts the rostrum, after lowering the fasces. It was a grateful sight to the multitude that the insignia of authority were lowered to them, and that an acknowledgment was made, that the majesty and power of the people were greater than that of the consul.
When they were called to silence, Valerius highly extolled the good fortune of his colleague, “who after delivering his country had died vested with the supreme power, fighting bravely in defence of the commonwealth, when his glory was in its maturity, and not yet converted into jealousy. That he himself, having survived his glory, now remained as an object of accusation and calumny; that from the liberator of his country he had fallen to the level of the Aquilii and Vitellii.
Will no merit then, says he, ever be so tried and approved by you, as to be exempted from the attacks of suspicion. Could I apprehend that myself, the bitterest enemy of kings, should fall under the charge of a desire of royalty?
Could I believe that, even though I dwelt in the very citadel and the Capitol, that I could be dreaded by my fellow citizens? Does my character among you depend on so mere trifle? Is my integrity so slightly founded, that it makes more matter where I may be, than what I may be.
The house of Publius Valerius shall not stand in the way of your liberty, Romans; the Velian mount shall be secure to you. I will not only bring down my house into the plain, but I will build it beneath the hill, that you may dwell above me a suspected citizen. Let those build on the Velian mount to whom liberty is more securely intrusted than to P. Valerius.”
Immediately all the materials were brought down to the foot of the Velian mount, and the house was built at the foot of the hill where the temple of Victory now stands.