The commonwealth thus desolate, without a head, without strength, the guardian gods and good fortune of the city saved, which inspired the Volscians and Aequans with the disposition of banditti rather than of enemies;
for so far was any hope not only of taking but even of approaching the walls of Rome1
from taking possession of their minds, and so thoroughly did the sight of the houses in the distance, and the adjacent hills, divert their thoughts, (from such an attempt,) that, a murmur
having arisen in every direction throughout the entire camp, “why they should waste time in indolence without booty in a wild and desert land, amid the putrid decay of cattle and of human beings, when they might repair to places uninjured by infection, the Tusculan territory abounding in wealth?” they suddenly tore up their standards, and by journeys across the country, they passed through the Lavican territory to the Tusculan hills; and to that quarter was the whole violence and storm of the war directed.
In the mean time the Hernicians and Latins, influenced not only by compassion but by shame, if they neither gave opposition to the common [p. 167]
enemy, when making for the city of Rome with a hostile army, nor afforded any aid to their allies when besieged march to Rome with their forces united.
Where, when they did not find the enemy, following their tracks as indicated by rumour, they meet them as they are coming down from the Tusculan territory into the Alban valley: there a battle was fought under circumstances by no means equal; and their fidelity proved by no means favourable to the allies for the present.
The mortality at Rome by disease was not less than that of the allies by the sword (of the enemy); the only surviving consul dies; other eminent characters also died, Marcus Valerius, Titus Virginius Rutilus, the augurs; Servius Sulpicius, principal curio;
and through persons of inferior note the virulence of the disease spread extensively: and the senate, destitute of human aid, directed the people's attention to the gods and to prayers; they were ordered to go to supplicate with their wives and children, and earnestly to implore the protection of heaven.
Besides that their own sufferings obliged each to do so, when called on by public authority, they fill all the shrines; the prostrate matrons in every quarter sweeping the temples with their hair, beg for a remission of the divine displeasure, and a termination to the pestilence.