At Rome meantime such arrangements for defending the Citadel as the case admitted of were now fairly complete, and the old men returned to their homes to await the coming of their enemies with hearts that were steeled to die.
Such of them as had held curule magistracies, that they might face death in the trappings of their ancient rank and office, as beseemed their worth, put on the stately robes which are worn by those who conduct the tensae1
or celebrate a triumph, and, thus habited, seated themselves on ivory chairs2
in the middle of [p. 141]
Some historians record that Marcus3
Folius, the pontifex maximus, led in the recitation of a solemn vow, by which they devoted themselves to death, in behalf of their country and the Roman Quirites.
The Gauls found their lust for combat cooled by the night which had intervened. At no point in the battle had they been pushed to desperate exertions, nor had they now to carry the City by assault. It was therefore without rancour or excitement that they entered Rome, on the following day, by the Colline Gate (which lay wide open), and made their way to the Forum, gazing about them at the temples of the gods and at the Citadel, which alone presented some show of war.
Thence, after leaving a moderate guard to prevent any attack upon their scattered forces from Citadel or Capitol, they dispersed in quest of booty through streets where there was none to meet them, some rushing in a body into whatever houses were nearest, while others sought out the most remote, as though supposing that only such would be intact and full- of plunder.
But being frightened out of these by their very solitude, lest the enemy should by some ruse entrap them as they wandered apart, they came trooping back to the Forum and the places near it.
There they found the dwellings of the plebeians fastened up, but the halls of the nobles open; and they hesitated almost more to enter the open houses than the shut, —so
nearly akin to religious awe was their feeling as they beheld seated in the vestibules, beings who, besides that their ornaments and apparel were more splendid than belonged to man, seemed also, in their majesty of countenance and in the gravity of their expression, most like to gods.
While they stood reverentially before them, as4
if they had been images, it is related that a Gaul stroked the beard of one of them, Marcus Papirius, — which he wore long, as they all did then, —whereat the Roman struck him over the head with his ivory mace, and, provoking his anger, was the first to be slain; after that the rest were massacred where they sat;
and when the nobles had been murdered, there was no mercy then shown to anyone; the houses were ransacked, and after being emptied were given to the flames.