The Albans reported this at home. Both sides made extraordinary preparations for a war, which closely resembled a civil war between parents and children, for both were of Trojan descent, since Lavinium
was an offshoot of Troy
, and Alba of Lavinium
, and the Romans were sprung from the stock of the kings of Alba.
The outcome of the war, however, made the conflict less deplorable, as there was no regular engagement, and though one of the two cities was destroyed, the two nations were blended into one.
The Albans were the first to move, and invaded the Roman territory with an immense army. They fixed their camp only five miles from the City and surrounded it with a moat; this was called for several centuries the ‘Cluilian Dyke’ from the name of the Alban
general, till through lapse of time the name and the thing itself disappeared.
While they were encamped Cluilius, the Alban
king, died, and the Albans made Mettius Fufetius dictator.
The king's death made Tullus more sanguine than ever of success. He gave out that the wrath of heaven which had fallen first of all on the head of the nation would visit the whole race of Alba with condign punishment for this unholy war. Passing the enemy's camp by a night march, he advanced upon Alban
territory. This drew Mettius from his entrenchments.
He marched as close to his enemy as he could, and then sent on an officer to inform Tullus that before engaging it was necessary that they should have a conference. If he granted one, then he was satisfied that the matters he would lay before him were such as concerned Rome
no less than Alba. Tullus did not reject the proposal, but in case the conference should prove illusory, he led out his men in order of battle.
The Albans did the same. After they had halted, confronting each other, the two commanders, with a small escort of superior officers, advanced between the lines.
general, addressing Tullus, said: ‘I think I have heard our king Cluilius say that acts of robbery and the non-restitution of plundered property, in violation of the existing treaty, were the cause of this war, and I have no doubt that you, Tullus, allege the same pretext. But if we are to say what is true, rather than what is plausible, we must admit that it is the lust of empire which has made two kindred and neighbouring peoples take up arms.
Whether rightly or wrongly I do not judge; let him who began the war settle that point; I am simply placed in command by the Albans to conduct the war. But I want to give you a warning, Tullus. You know, you especially who are nearer to them, the greatness of the Etruscan State, which hems us both in; their immense strength by land, still more by sea.
Now remember, when once you have given the signal to engage, our two armies will fight under their eyes, so that when we are wearied and exhausted they may attack us both, victor and vanquished alike. If then, not content with the secure freedom we now enjoy, we are determined to enter into a game of chance, where the stakes are either supremacy or slavery, let us, in heaven's name, choose some method by which, without great suffering or bloodshed on either side, it can be decided which nation, is to be master of the other.’
Although, from natural temperament, and the certainty he felt of victory, Tullus was eager to fight, he did not disapprove of the proposal. After much consideration on both sides a method was adopted, for which Fortune herself provided the necessary means.