Page images


The Siege of Clufiuina the happy expedient of giving pay to the foldiers, in the year before Christ 405. From this period, the military operations of the Romans were conducted on a bolder scale. Formerly, their campaigns had been merely incursions, which continued only a few days, and terminated by one engagement. The senate now began to form greater enterprizes; and, instead of infignificant battles, they waged decifive wars. taking of Veii is a presage of the grandeur of the Romans. A multitude of small states and unconnected cities must neceffarily yield to the formidable and continual efforts of a people always in arms; and who united policy to the essen thufiasm of valour *.


Clufium befieged, and the Romans defeated by the Gauksme Rome abandoned by its inhabitants, and burnt by the Gaulso

ROM the earliest periods of time, the Celtæ, or Gauls, FRO

overspread the western parts of Europe. The early religion of the Romans, their language, and their customs, thew that this people were among the Aborigines of Italy. Barbarous tribes are always in a state of migration. The first hostile irruption of the Gauls into Italy, which history cecords, was in the reign of Tarquin the elder. They spread themselves over the provinces situated between the Alps and Appenines. They had been settled in these regions for two hundred years, when they besieged Clufium, allured by the wines of Italy—a frequent motive to the wars of bare barians.

The inhabitants of Clufium demanded assistance from the Romans. The senate, unwilling tỏ quarrel with a people who had never offended them, fent a deputation of theer young patricians, of the Fabian family, to bring about an accommodation between the two nations. Being conducted to Brennus, the leader of the Gauls, they offered the mediation of Rome, and asked what injury the Clufini had done them, or what pretensions any people from a remote country çould have upon Hetruria. Brennus answered in a haughty

" That his right lay in his sword, and that all things " belonged to the brave." The Fabii were highly provok. od at his anłyerbut, diffembling their resentment, they deLogan.



fired Icave to go into the town, under pretence of conferring with the magistrates. As soon as they were admitted, they persuaded the inhabitants to a vigorous defence, and even put themselves at the head of the besieged in a sally, in which Quintus Fabius, the chief of the ambassadors, flew, with his own hand, one of the principal officers of the Gauls. Upon this, Brennus immediately broke up the fiege of Clufium, and set out for Rome, having fent an herald before him to demand, that those ambassadors, who had so manifestly violated the law of nations, should be delivered up to him.' The aftair was had before the senate. The wiseft and most prudent thought the demand just and reasonable; but as it concerred persons of great consequence, they referred it to the afembly of the people, who, instead of condemning the three brothers, raised them to the dignity of military tribunes, at the very next election. Brennus, considering this as a higda affront, haftened his march to Roma.

The fix military tribunes, at the head of forty thousand men, advanced boldly againft the Gauls, whose number exceeded seventy thousand. The two armies met near the river Allia, about fixty furlongs from Rome. The victory was decisive in favour of the Gauls, and the Romans, in the utmost disorder, instead of returning to Rome, fled to Veii.

The next day, Brennus marched his troops into the neighbourhood of Rome, and encamped on the banks of the Anio. There his fpies brought him word, that the gates of the city were open, and that not one Roman was to be seen on the ramparts. Brennus, suspecting fome ambusçade, advanced very lowly, which gave the Romans an opportunity of sending into the capitol all the men who were fit to bear arms. The old men, women, and children, seeing the city quite defenceless, Aed to the neighbouring towns.

Amidit this general confusion, about fourScore of the most illustrious and venerable old men, rather than fee from their native country, chose to devote thenifelves to death by a vow, which Fabius, the high-pontiff, pronounced in their names. The Romans believed, that by these voluntary facrifices of themselves, disorder and confusion were brought among the enemy. To complete their facrifice, with a folemnity becoming the magnanimity of the Romans, they dressed themselves in their pontifical, consular, and triumphal robes, according to their feveral ranks and stations, and repairing to the forum feated themselves there, in their curule chairs, expecting the enemy and death with the greatest fortitude *.

i Plutarch.
I. 3



Rome burnt by the Gauls. At length, Brennus entered the city, which appeared to him like a mere desart; and this solitude increased his perplexity. Advancing towards the forum at the head of his troops, he was struck with admiration at the unexpected fight of the venerable old men, who had devoted themselves to death. The magnificence of their habits, the majesty of their countenances, their profound silence, and unmoved behaviour at the approach of the troops, struck the Gauls with such an awful reverence, that they took them for the gods of the country, and seemed afraid to advance. One of the soldiers, however, ventured to touch the beard of Marcus Papirius, who, unaccustomed to such familiarity, gave him a blow on the head with his ivory staff. The soldier, in revenge, immediately killed him; and the others, following his example, put. all the rest to the sword.

Brennus then laid siege to the capitol, but was repulsed with great loss. In order to be revenged of the Romans for their resistance, he ordered the city to be burnt, the temples and edifices to be destroyed, and the walls to be rased to the ground. Thus the famous city of Rome was entirely demoTilhed. Nothing was to be seen in the place where it stood, but a few little hills covered with ruins.

In the dead of the night, the Gauls had contrived to take the capitol by surprise. They proceeded with such filence, that they were not discovered, either by the centinels, who were upon guard in the citadel, or even by the dogs; though these animals are usually alarmed at the least noise. But they could not escape the vigilance of the geese, a flock of which was kept in the court of the capitol, in honour of Juno. On the first approach of the Gauls, they ran up and down, cackling and beating their wings, till they wakened Manlius, a patrician of great courage, who first attacked the enemy, and, with the asistance of others, who hastened to his aid, drove the besiegers down the rock. For this heroic behaviour, Manlius was rewarded with the additional name of Capitolinus.

Camillus had retired to Ardea, a town in Latium, and moved by the calamity of his country, prevailed on the Ardeans to raise an army under his command, to oppose a party of the Gauls that were appointed to lay waste the neighboura ing country. With this army he so effectually destroyed the enemy, that scarce any were left to carry the news of their defeat. This turn of fortune raised the fainting spirits of the Romans, who requested Camillus to forget all former injuries, and become their general. The senate appointed


him dictator, and he broke off the treaty that was on foot between the Gauls and Romans, declaring that he only, as dictator, had the power of making peace. He then attacked the enemy, and so entirely routed them, that all the Roman territories, were in a short time cleared from these successful invaders. Thus was Rome, in its full glory, unexpectedly taken and reduced to the greatest extremity; and, in seven months, as unexpectedly recovered from its deplorable condition. Camillus, for the eminent services done to his country, had a noble triumph decreed him. This remarkable event happened, in the year before Christ 388.


The city rebuilt.--Camillus made di&tator.-Manlius condemna

ed and thrown headlong from the Capitol.The first Plebeian Consul.Death and Character of Camillus.

A ,

great part of the citizens had withdrawn themselves

the tribunes moved, that it should be entirely abandoned, and that the inhabitants should remove to Veii. This motion was opposed by Camillus, who represented to the people, < how dishonourable it would be to forsake the seat of their « ancestors, and to inhabit a conquered and enslaved city". Upon this, the city was ordered to be rebuilt with all diligence; and in less than twelve months, Rome rose out of its alhes, and Camillus was looked on as a second founder.

This noble Roman was now made dictator a third time, when he defeated the Æqui, the Hetrurii, and other enemies of the republic. He also recovered from the Volsci fome towns they had lately taken from the Romans; for which atchievements he had the honour of a third triumph.

Soon after, Manlius Capitolinus, elated with the late service he had done his country, began to raise disturbances in the city, and discovered an ambitious design on the fovereignty. He was ftrongly opposed by Camillus, and impriToned by Cornelius Coffus, the dictator; but he was soon after set at liberty by the senate, for fear of the populace, who surrounded the prison day and night, and threatened to break it

open. The moment he was set at liberty, he renewed his Tactious intrigues. His house was crouded day and night


L 4

Death and Character of Camillus. with the mutinous, whom he harrangued without reserve, ex horting them to shake off the yoke they groaned under, to abolith the dignities of di&ator and consul, to establish an exact equality among all the members of the republic, and to make themselves an head, who might govern and keep in awe the patricians as well as the people. “ If you judge me < worthy of that honour,” said he, “the more power you “ give me, the sooner you will be in poffeffion of what you « have so long wilhed for. I desire authority with no other “ view, but to make you all happy.” It is said, that a plot was formed to seize the citadel, and declare him king. The fenate alarmed at the danger which threatened the state, ordered the military tribunes to be watchful that the republic received no damage ; a form of words which was never used but in the greatest dangers, and which invested those magistrates with an authority almost equal to that of a dictator. After this, different means were proposed for defeating the ill designs of Manlius. Some were of opinion, that he should be affassinated. But Marcus Mænius and Quintius Publilius, two of the tribunes of the people, thought it more adviseable to take him off by the usual forms of law, and offered to prosecute him before the comitia, not doubting but the people would immediately desert him, when they saw their own tribunes become his accusers. This advice was approved, and Manlius was fummoned to his trial.' The crime laid to his charge, was his aiming at sovereign power. He appeared before his judges in deep mourning. But neither his own brothers, nor any of his relations changed their dress, nor solicited the judges in his behalf, as was usually done by the friends of a person accused. So much did the love of liberty prevail in the hearts of the Romans, over all the ties of blood and kindred, Being found guilty, he was condemned to be thrown headlong from the capitol, which he had fo lately saved. His house was rased to the ground; and it was de creed, that no patrician should ever after dwell in the capitol. Thus was Rome ever jealous of her liberty, and the greatest merit could not atone for the least attempt against it,

The struggle of parties at _Rome still continued. The youngest daughter of Marcus Fabius Ambristus was married to a Plebeian, and the eldest to a Patrician, The rank and honours accruing to the eldest, whose husband was a mili, tary tribune, filled the younger sister with envy; and the interested her father, her husband, and her friends, to renew che law formerly proposed, to admit the Plebejans to the higheft offices in the commonwealth. The contests, în conte,


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »