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Camillus, M. Furius

A celebrated Roman, called the second Romulus, from his services to his country. After filling various important stations, and, among other achievements, taking the city of Veii, which had for the space of ten years resisted the Roman arms, he encountered at last the displeasure of his countrymen, and was accused of having embezzled some of the plunder of this place. Being well aware how the matter would terminate, Camillus went into voluntary exile, although his friends offered to pay the sum demanded of him. During this period of separation from his country, Rome, with the exception of the Capitol, was taken by the Gauls under Brennus (q.v.). Camillus, though an exile, was invited by the fugitive Romans at Veii to take command of them, but refused to act until the wishes of the Romans besieged in the Capitol were known. These unanimously revoked the sentence of banishment, and elected him dictator. The noble-minded Roman forgot their previous ingratitude, and marched to the relief of his country; which he delivered, after it had been for some time in the possession of the enemy. The Roman account says that Camillus, at the head of an army of forty thousand men, hastened to Rome, where he found the garrison of the Capitol on the point of purchasing peace from the invaders. “With iron, and not with gold,” exclaimed Camillus, “Rome buys her freedom.” An attack was instantly made upon the Gauls, a victory obtained, and the foe left their camp by night. On the morrow Camillus overtook them, and they met with a total overthrow. His triumphal entry into Rome was made amid the acclamations of thousands, who greeted him with the name of Romulus, Father of his Country, and Second Founder of the City. After performing another equally important service, in prevailing upon his countrymen to rebuild their city and not return to Veii, and after gaining victories over the Aequi, Volsci, Etrurians, and Latins, he died in the eighty-ninth year of his age, having been five times dictator, once censor, three times interrex, twice military tribune, and having obtained four triumphs (Camill.; Liv.v. 46 foll.; Flor.i. 13; Verg. Aen. vi. 825). We have touched on merely a few of the events connected with the history of Camillus, in consequence of the strong suspicion which attaches itself to the greater part of the narrative. In no instance, perhaps, have the family memorials of the Roman aristocracy more completely usurped the place of true history than in the case of Camillus. The part relative to the overthrow of the Gauls appears to be pure fiction. See Mommsen, Hist. of Rome, bk. ii. ch. 4.

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