But Tarquin, despairing of attempts to regain his throne by treachery, was eagerly welcomed by the Tuscans,1
who set out to restore him with a great force. The consuls led the Romans out to meet them, and arrayed their forces in certain sacred precincts, one of which was called the Arsian grove, the other the Aesuvian meadow. When the engagement began, Aruns the son of Tarquin and Brutus the Roman consul encountered each other.
It was not by chance, but both were driven on by hatred and wrath, the one to attack a tyrant and foe of his country, the other to avenge himself on the author of his exile. They urged their horses to the combat, but since they engaged with fury rather than calculation, they were reckless of themselves, and fell by one another's hands. The battle which had such a dreadful beginning ended no less disastrously; the armies, after inflicting and suffering equal losses, were separated by a tempest.2
Valerius was therefore in perplexity, not knowing what the issue of the battle was, but seeing his soldiers as much disheartened by their own losses as they were encouraged by those of their enemies. So undistinguishable and equal was the slaughter on both sides. Each army, however was more convinced of defeat by the near sight of its own dead, than it could be of victory by conjecturing those of the enemy.
But when such a night came on as must needs follow such a battle, and both camps were quiet, they say that the grove was shaken, and a loud voice issued from it declaring that the Tuscans had lost one man more in the battle than the Romans. The utterance was manifestly from some god,3
for at once the Romans were inspired by it to loud shouts of courage, while the Tuscans were panic-stricken, abandoned their camp in confusion, and were for the most part dispersed.
As for those that remained, a little less than five thousand in number, the Romans fell upon them, took them prisoners, and plundered the camp. And when the dead on both sides were numbered, those of the enemy were found to be eleven thousand and three hundred, and those of the Romans as many less one.
It is said that this battle was fought on the last day of February. Valerius celebrated a triumph for it, being the first consul to drive into the city on a four-horse chariot.
And the proceeding afforded a spectacle which was imposing and magnificent, not odious and offensive to the spectators, as some say; otherwise it would not have been continued with such ardour and emulation for countless years. The people were also pleased with the honours which Valerius bestowed upon his colleague at the funeral ceremonies.
He even delivered a funeral oration in his honour, which was so admired by the Romans and won such favour that from that time on, when their great and good men died, encomiums were pronounced upon them by the most distinguished citizens. And this funeral oration of his is said to have been earlier than any among the Greeks, unless Anaximenes the orator is right in saying that the custom originated with Solon.