Thenceforward the battle seemed to be fought with a degree of force scarcely human. The Romans, on the loss of their general, a circumstance which, on other occasions, is wont to inspire terror, stopped their flight, and were anxious to begin the combat afresh.
The Gauls, and especially the multitude which encircled the consul's body, as if deprived of reason, cast their javelins at random without execution; some became so stupid as not to think of either fighting or flying:
while on the other side, Livius, the pontiff, to whom Decius [p. 667]
had transferred his lictors, with orders to act as propraetor, cried out aloud, that “the Romans were victorious, being saved by the death of their consul.
That the Gauls and Samnites were now the victims of mother Earth and the infernal gods. That Decius was summoning and dragging to himself the army devoted along with him: and that, among the enemy, all was full of dismay, and the vengeance of all the furies.”
While the soldiers were busy in restoring the fight, Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Caius Marcius, with some reserved troops from the rear, who had been sent by Quintus Fabius, the consul, to the support of his colleague, came up. There the fate of Decius is ascertained, a powerful stimulus to brave every danger in the cause of the public.
Wherefore, when the Gauls stood in close order, with their shields formed into a fence before them, and but little prospect of success appeared from a close fight, the javelins, which lay scattered between the two lines, were, therefore, by order of the lieutenants-general, gathered up from the ground, and thrown against the enemy's shields, and as most of them pierced the fence, the
long-pointed ones even into their bodies, their compact band was overthrown in such a manner, that a great many, who were unhurt, yet fell as if thunderstruck.
Such were the changes of fortune on the left wing of the Romans: on the right, Fabius had at first protracted the time, as we mentioned above, in slow operations; then, as soon as he perceived that neither the shout, nor the efforts of the enemy, nor the weapons which they threw, retained their former force, having ordered the commanders of the cavalry
to lead round their squadrons to the flank of the Samnites, so that, on receiving the signal, they should charge them in flank, with all possible violence, he commanded, at the same time, his infantry to advance leisurely, and drive the enemy from their ground.
When he saw that they were unable to make resistance, and that their exhaustion was certain, drawing together all his reserves, whom he had kept fresh for that occasion, he made a brisk push with the legions, and gave the cavalry the signal to charge.
The Samnites could not support the shock, but fled precipitately to their camp, passing by the line of the Gauls, and leaving their allies to fight by themselves.
These stood in close order under cover of their shields: Fabius, therefore, having heard of the death of his colleague, ordered [p. 668]
the squadron of' Campanian cavalry, in number about five hundred, to fall back from the ranks, and riding round, to attack the rear of the Gallic line, then the chief strength of the third legion to follow, with directions that wherever
they should see the enemy's troops disordered by the charge, to follow the blow, and cut them to pieces, when in a state of consternation.
After vowing a temple and the spoils of the enemy to Jupiter the Victorious, he proceeded to the camp of the Samnites, whither all their forces were hurrying in confusion.
The gates not affording entrance to such very great numbers, those who were necessarily excluded, attempted resistance just at the foot of the rampart, and here fell Gellius Egnatius, the Samnite general.
These, however, were soon driven within the rampart; the camp was taken after a slight resistance; and at the same time the Gauls were attacked on the rear, and overpowered.
There were slain of the enemy on that day twenty-five thousand: eight thousand were taken prisoners. Nor was the victory an unbloody one; for, of the army of Publius Decius, the killed amounted to seven thousand; of the army of Fabius, to one thousand two hundred.
Fabius, after sending persons to search for the body of his colleague, had the spoils of the enemy collected into a heap, and burned them as an offering to Jupiter the Victorious.
The consul's body could not be found that day, being hid under a heap of slaughtered Gauls: on the following, it was discovered and brought to the camp, amidst abundance of tears shed by the soldiers.
Fabius, discarding all concern about any other business, solemnized the obsequies of his colleague in the most honourable manner, passing on him the high encomiums which he had justly merited.