On the other side, the consul desired the Romans to remember that “on that day, for the first time, they fought as free men in defence of Rome, now a free city. That it was for themselves they were to conquer, and not that they should be the prize of the decemvirs, after conquering.
That it was not under the command of Appius that the action was being conducted, but under their consul Valerius, descended from the liberators of the Roman people, himself too a liberator.
That they should show that in former battles it had teen the fault of the generals, and not of the soldiers, that they did not conquer. That it was shameful to have had more courage against their own countrymen than against their enemies, and to have dreaded slavery more at home than abroad.
That Virginia was the only person whose chastity was in danger in time of peace: that Appius was the only citizen of dangerous lust. But if the fortune of war should turn against them, all their children would be in danger from so many thou- [p. 234]
sands of enemies.
That he would not, on account of the omen, mention things which may neither Jupiter nor their father Mars suffer to befall a city built under such auspices.”
He reminded them of the Aventine and the Sacred mount; and “that they should bring back dominion unimpaired to that spot, where their liberty had been established but a few months before: and that they should show that the Roman soldiers retained the same abilities after the expulsion of the decemvirs, which they had possessed before they were appointed; and that the valour of the Roman people was not deteriorated after the laws were equalized.”
After he uttered these words among the battalions of the infantry, he flies from them to the cavalry. “Come, young men, surpass in valour the infantry, as you already surpass them in honour and in rank.
The infantry at the first onset have made the enemy give way: now that they have given way, do you give reins to your horses and drive them from the field. They will not stand your charge: even now they rather hesitate than resist.”
They spur on their horses, and drive in amongst the enemy who were already thrown into confusion by the attack of the infantry; and having broken through the ranks, and pushed on to the rear of their line, a part wheeling round in the open space, turn most of them away from the camp to which they were now flying from all sides, and by riding on before they deter them from that direction.
The line of infantry, and the consul himself, and the main body of the army make for the camp, and having taken it with considerable slaughter, they get possession of a great quantity of booty.
The fame of this battle was carried not only to the city, but to the other army also among the Sabines. In the city it was celebrated only with public rejoicing; in the camp it fired the courage of the soldiers to emulate such glory.
Horatius, by training them in excursions, and making trial of them in slight skirmishes, had accustomed them to trust in themselves rather than to remember the ignominy incurred under the command of the decemvirs, and these little encounters had now gone so far as to insure to them the consummation of all their hopes.
The Sabines, elated at their success on the preceding year, ceased not to provoke and urge them (to fight,) constantly asking them why they wasted time, sallying forth in small numbers and returning like marauders, and why they parcelled out the [p. 235]
grand effort of a single war on a number of insignificant skirmishes?
why did they not engage them in the field, and consign the result to fortune to be determined at once?