Here, as they were preparing to renew the battle, they were checked by a sight that was wonderful to behold and a spectacle that passes description.1
The ravished daughters of the Sabines were seen rushing from every direction, with shouts and lamentations, through the armed men and the dead bodies, as if in a frenzy of possession, up to their husbands and their fathers, some carrying young children in their arms, some veiled in their dishevelled hair, and all calling with the most endearing names now upon the Sabines and now upon the Romans.
So then both armies were moved to compassion, and drew apart to give the women place between the lines of battle; sorrow ran through all the ranks, and abundant pity was stirred by the sight of the women, and still more by their words, which began with argument and reproach, and ended with supplication and entreaty.
‘Wherein, pray (they said), have we done you wrong or harm, that we must suffer in the past, and must still suffer now, such cruel evils? We were violently and lawlessly ravished away by those to whom we now belong, but though thus ravished, we were neglected by our brethren and fathers and kinsmen until time had united us by the strongest ties with those whom we had most hated, and made us now fear for those who had treated us with violence and lawlessness, when they go to battle, and mourn for them when they are slain.
For ye did not come to avenge us upon our ravishers while we were still maidens, but now ye would tear wives from their husbands and mothers from their children, and the succour wherewith ye would now succour us, wretched women that we are, is more pitiful than your former neglect and abandonment of us. Such is the love which we have here enjoyed, such the compassion shown to us by you. Even if ye were fighting on other grounds, it were meet that ye should cease for our sakes, now that ye are become fathers-in-law and grandsires and have family ties among your enemies.
If, however, the war is on our behalf, carry us away with your sons-in-law and their children, and so restore to us our fathers and kindred, but do not rob us of our children and husbands. Let us not, we beseech you, become prisoners of war again.’
Many such appeals were made by Hersilia, and the other women added their entreaties, until a truce was made and the leaders held a conference.
Meanwhile the women brought their husbands and their children and presented them to their fathers and brothers; they also carried food and drink to those that wanted, and bore the wounded to their homes for tender nursing; here they also made it evident that they were mistresses of their own households, and that their husbands were attentive to them and showed them all honour with good will.
Thereupon agreements were made that such women as wished to do so might continue to live with their husbands, exempt, as aforesaid,2
from all labour and all drudgery except spinning; also that the city should be inhabited by Romans and Sabines in common; and that the city should be called Rome, from Romulus, but all its citizens Quirites, from the native city of Tatius3
; and that Romulus and Tatius should be joint kings and leaders of the army. The place where these agreements were made is to this day called Comitium, from the Roman word
to come together.