Envoys from the Tectosagians met the consul at Ancyra, entreating him not to decamp until he had held a conference with their kings; that any conditions of peace were in their opinion preferable to war.
The time fixed was the next day, and the place that which seemed the most central between the camp of the Gauls and Ancyra.
The consul came thither at the appointed hour, with a guard of five hundred horse, but seeing none of the Gauls there, returned into his camp: after which the same envoys came again, with an apology, that their kings could not come, since religious feelings deterred them; but that the principal men of the nation would attend, and that the business might be as well transacted by them.
To which the consul answered, that he would send Attalus on his part. To this meeting both parties came.
When Attalus had brought with him as an escort three hundred horse, the terms of peace were proposed.
As there could not be a conclusion to the affair in the absence of the leaders, it was agreed, that the consul and the kings should meet in the same place on the following day.
The delay of the Gauls had the following objects: first, to waste time, that they [p. 1750]
might remove their effects, which they were unwilling to risk, and also their wives and children, to the other side of the river Halys; and, secondly, because they were framing a plot against the consul, who took no precautions against treachery in the conference.
They chose for this purpose, out of all their number, one thousand horsemen of approved intrepidity; and their treachery would have taken effect, had not fortune exerted herself in favour of the law of nations, in violation of which their plan was laid.
The Roman parties, who went out for forage and wood, were led towards that quarter where the conference was to be held; for the tribunes judged that to be the safest course, as they would have the consul's escort, and himself, as a guard opposed to the enemy. However, they posted another guard of their own, of six hundred horse, nearer to the camp.
The consul, being assured by Attalus that the kings would come, and that the business might be concluded, having set out from
his camp with the same attendants as before, when he had advanced about five miles, and was not far from the place appointed, he saw, on a sudden, the Gauls coming on with hostile fury, and with their horses at full gallop. He halted, and ordering his horsemen to make ready their arms, and recall their courage, received the enemy's first charge with firmness, nor gave way.
At length, when their numbers were overpowering him, he began to retreat leisurely, without disturbing the order of the troops, but at last, when there was more danger in delay than protection in keeping their ranks, they all fled in hurry and disorder.
Then truly the Gauls pressed hard on them, dispersed, and killed several; and a great part of them would have been cut off, had not the six hundred horse, the guard of the foragers, come up to meet them. These, on hearing, at a distance, the shout of dismay raised by their friends, made ready their weapons and horses, and, being quite fresh, renewed the fight after it was almost over.
The fortune of the battle, therefore, was instantly reversed, and dismay recoiled from the conquered on the conquerors.
At the first charge the Gauls were routed; at the same time the foragers from the fields ran together towards the spot, and an enemy was on every side of the Gauls in such a manner that they could not have an easy or safe retreat, especially as the Romans pursued on fresh horses, while theirs were fatigued. Few therefore escaped; yet not one was taken; [p. 1751]
by far the greater part paid their lives as a forfeit for having violated the faith of a conference.
The whole army of the Romans, with minds burning with rage, marched up, next day, close to the enemy.