The Gauls, who marched from the city, were led by fortune herself, to make trial of Roman valour, to Ardea, where Camillus was in exile: who, more distressed by the fortune of the public than his own, whilst he now pined away arraigning gods and men, fired with indignation, and wondering where were now those men who with him had taken Veii and Falerii, who had conducted other wars rather by their own valour than by the favour of fortune, hears on a sudden that the army of the Gauls was approaching, and that the people of Ardea in consternation were met in council on the subject.
And as if moved by divine inspiration, after he advanced into the midst of the assembly, having hitherto been accustomed to absent himself from such meetings, he says, "People of Ardea, my friends of old, of late my fellow-citizens also, since your kindness so ordered it, and my good fortune achieved it, let no one of you suppose that I have come forward here forgetful of my condition; but the [present] case and the common danger obliges every one to contribute to the common good whatever service he can in our present alarming situation.
And when shall I repay you for your so very important services to me, if I now be remiss? or where will [p. 377]
you derive benefit from me, if not in war? By this accomplishment I maintained my rank in my native country: and, unconquered in war, I was banished during peace by my ungrateful fellow-citizens.
To you, men of Ardea, a favourable opportunity has been presented of making a return for all the former favours conferred by the Roman people, such as you yourselves remember, (for which reason, as being mindful of them, you are not to be upbraided with them,) and of obtaining great military renown for this your city over the common enemy.
The nation, which now approaches in disorderly march, is one to which nature has given great spirits and bodies rather huge than firm.
Let the disaster of Ron e serve as a proof. They captured the city when lying open to them; a small handful of men from the citadel and Capitol withstand them. Already tired out by the slow process of a siege, they retire and spread themselves through the country.
Gorged with food and wine hastily swallowed, when night comes on they stretch themselves indiscriminately, like brutes, near streams of water, without entrenchment, without guards or advanced posts; more incautious even now than usual in consequence of success. If you then are disposed to defend your own walls, and not to suffer all these places to become Gaul, take up arms in a full body at the first watch: follow me to slaughter, not to battle. If I do not deliver them up to you fettered by sleep, to be butchered like cattle, I decline not the same issue of my affairs at Ardea as I had at Rome.