Meanwhile at Rome all arrangements being now made, as far as was possible in such an emergency, for the defence of the citadel, the crowd of aged persons having returned to their houses, awaited the enemy's coming with minds firmly prepared for death.
Such of them as had borne curule offices, in order that they may die in the insignia of their former station, honours, and merit, arraying themselves in the most magnificent garments worn by those drawing the chariots of the gods in procession, or by persons riding in triumph, seated themselves in their ivory chairs, in the middle of their halls.
Some say that they devoted themselves for their coun- [p. 374]
try and the citizens of Rome, Marcus Fabius, the chief pontiff, dictating the form of words.
The Gauls, both because by the intervention of the night they had abated all angry feelings arising from the irritation of battle, and because they had on no occasion fought a well-disputed fight, and were then not taking the city by storm or violence, entering the city the next day, free from resentment or heat of passion, through the Colline gate which lay open, advance into the forum, casting their eyes around on the temples of the gods, and on the citadel, which alone exhibited any appearance of war.
From thence, after leaving a small guard, lest any attack should be made on them whilst scattered, from the citadel or Capitol, they dispersed in quest of plunder; the streets being entirely desolate, rush some of them in a body into the houses that were nearest; some repair to those which were most distant, considering these to be untouched and abounding with spoil.
Afterwards being terrified by the very solitude, lest any stratagem of the enemy should surprise them whilst being dispersed, they returned in bodies into the
forum and the parts adjoining to the forum, where the houses of the commons being shut, and the halls of the leading men lying open, almost greater backwardness was felt to attack the open than the shut houses;
so completely did they behold with a sort of veneration men sitting in the porches of the palaces, who besides their ornaments and apparel more august than human, bore a striking resemblance to gods, in the majesty which their looks and the gravity of their countenance displayed.
Whilst they stood gazing on these as on statues, it is said that Marcus Papirius, one of them, roused the anger of a Gaul by striking him on the head with his ivory, while he was stroking his beard, which was then universally worn long; and that the commencement of the bloodshed began with him, that the rest were slain in their seats.
After the slaughter of the nobles, no person whatever was spared; the houses were plundered, and when emptied were set on fire.