But neither gods nor men would suffer the Romans to live ransomed. For, by some chance, before the infamous payment had been consummated, and when the gold had not yet, owing to the dispute, been all weighed out, the dictator appeared and commanded the gold to be cleared away and the Gauls to leave.
They objected vehemently, and insisted on the compact; but Camillus denied the validity of that compact which, subsequently to his own appointment as dictator, an inferior magistrate had made without his authorization, and warned them to prepare for battle.
His own men he ordered to throw their packs in a heap, make ready their weapons, and win their country back with iron instead of gold; having before their eyes the temples of the gods, their wives and their children, the soil of their native land, with the hideous marks of war upon it, and all that religion called upon them to defend, recover, or avenge.
He then drew up his line, as well as the ground permitted, on the naturally uneven surface of the half-ruined City, and saw to it that his soldiers had every advantage in choice of position and in preparation which the art of war suggested.
The Gauls were taken aback; they armed, and, with more rage than judgment, [p. 167]
charged the Romans. But now fortune had turned;1
now the might of Heaven and human wisdom were engaged in the cause of Rome. Accordingly, at the first shock the Gauls were routed with as little effort as they had themselves put forth to conquer on the Allia.
They afterwards fought a second, more regular engagement, eight miles out on the Gabinian Way, where they had rallied from their flight, and again the generalship and auspices of Camillus overcame them. Here the carnage was universal; their camp was taken; and not a man survived to tell of the disaster.
The dictator, having recovered his country from her enemies, returned in triumph to the city; and between the rough jests uttered by the soldiers, was hailed in no unmeaning terms of praise as a Romulus and Father of his Country and a second Founder of the City.
His native City, which he had saved in war, he then indubitably saved a second time, now that peace was won, by preventing the migration to Veil: though the tribunes were more zealous for the plan than ever, now that the City lay in ashes, and the plebs were of themselves more inclined to favour it.
This was the reason of his not resigning the dictatorship after his triumph, for the senate besought him not to desert the state in its hour of uncertainty.