Such were the consolations which the old men appointed to die exchanged among themselves; then, directing their encouragement to the band of youths whom they were escorting to the Capitol and the Citadel, they committed to their valour and their young strength whatever fortune might yet be in store for a City that for three hundred and sixty years had been victorious in every war.
On the departure of those who carried with them all hope and help, from those who had resolved not to
survive the capture and destruction of their City, though the separation was a pitiful thing to see, yet the tears of the women, as they, ran distractedly up and down, and following now these, -now those, demanded of husbands and sons to what fate they were consigning them, supplied the final touch of human wretchedness.
Still, the greater part of them followed their sons into the Citadel, though none either forbade or encouraged it, since what would have helped the besieged to lessen the number of non-combatants would have been inhuman.
Another host —consisting chiefly of plebeians —too large for so small a hill to receive, or to support with so meagre a supply of corn, streamed out of the City as though forming at last one continuous line, and took their way towards Janiculum.
Thence some of them scattered through the country-side, and others made for the towns near by. They had neither leader nor concerted plan; each followed the promptings of his own hopes and his own counsels, in despair of the: commonwealth.
Meanwhile the flamen of Quirinus and the Vestal [p. 139]
virgins, with no thought for their own belongings,1
were consulting which of the sacred things they should carry with them, and which, because they were not strong enough to carry them all, they must leave behind, and, finally, where these objects would be safe.
They judged it best to place them in jars and bury them in the shrine adjoining the flamen's house, where it is now forbidden to spit; the rest of the things they carried, sharing the burden amongst them, along the road which leads by the Sublician Bridge to Janiculum.
As they mounted the hill they were perceived by a plebeian named Lucius Albinius, who had a waggon in which he was conveying his wife and children, amidst the throng of those who, unfit for war, were leaving the City.
Preserving even then the distinction between divine and human, and holding it sacrilege that the priestesses of his country should go afoot, bearing the sacred objects of the Roman People, while his family were seen in a vehicle, he commanded his wife and children to get down, placed the virgins and their relics in the waggon, and brought them to Caere, whither the priestesses were bound.