Among the enemy there was a diversity of opinion. The Faliscians, impatient of the hardships of war at a distance from home, and sufficiently confident of their own strength, [p. 271]
earnestly demanded battle; the Veientians and Fidenatians placed more hope in protracting the war.
Tolumnius, though the measures of his own subjects were more agreeable to him, proclaims that he would give battle on the following day lest the Faliscians might not brook the service at so great a distance from their home.
The dictator and the Romans took additional courage from the fact of the enemy having declined giving battle: and on the following day, the soldiers exclaiming that they would attack the camp and the city, if an opportunity of fighting were not afforded them, the armies advance on both sides into the middle of a plain between the two camps.
The Veientians, having the advantage in numbers, sent around a party behind the mountains to attack the Roman camp during the heat of the battle. The army of the three states stood drawn up in such a manner, that the Veientians occupied the right wing, the Faliscians the left, whilst the Fidenatians constituted the centre.
The dictator charged on the right wing against the Faliscians, Quintius Capitolinus on the left against the Veientians, and the master of the horse with the cavalry advanced in the centre.
For a short time all was silence and quiet, the Etrurians being determined not to engage unless they were compelled, and the dictator looking back towards a Roman fort, until a signal should be raised, as had been agreed on, by the augurs, as soon as the birds had given a favourable omen.
As soon as he perceived this, he orders the cavalry first to charge the enemy, after raising a loud shout; the line of infantry following, engaged with great fury.
In no quarter did the Etrurian legions withstand the shock of the Romans. The cavalry made the greatest resistance; and the king himself, far the bravest of the cavalry, charging the Romans whilst they were pursuing in disorder in every direction, prolonged the contest.