Chronicles From the City Founding of Livius Titus, Book I

Chapter 12

Romulus, hard-pressed by the Sabines, vows a temple to Jupiter Stator and victory is vouchsafed to him.

The Sabines, in any case, occupied the citadel, and on the following day, when the Roman army was drawn up and had crowded that elevation of grassy plain between the Palatine and the Capitoline, no sooner did they descend to the plain than the Romans, with anger and desire for taking back the citadel goading their spirits, marched below against them. The chiefs on both sides roused the fight, from the Sabines, Mettius Curtius, from the Romans, Hostius Hostilius. The latter sustained the Roman side at that ill-matched spot to the first signals by his spirit and valour. Once Hostius fell, the Roman battle-line was turned back and scattered. To the older gate of the Palatine, Romulus was himself also driven by the tumult of fleeing men, and lifting his arms to the sky, he said, “Jupiter for you, commanded by birds here on the Palatine, I first set down the foundations for the city. Yet now the Sabines occupy the citadel, purchased by a wicked deed ; from there to here, the central valley has been overcome, and armed men reach out. But you, the father of gods and men, from here at least, fend off our enemies ; withdraw terror from the Roman men, and stay this despicable flight. Here I vow a temple for you, to Jupiter Stayer, which would be a monument for posterity that the city was saved by your imminent power.” He entreatied thus just as if he sensed that his entreaties here heard, “From here,” he said, “Romans, Jupiter Best and Greatest demands you stand and renew the fight.” And the Romans held fast just as if commanded by a celestial voice : Romulus himself flew forth against the front line. Mettius Curtius, the chief man, had run down from the Sabines, from the citadel, and had driven the scattered Romans across as much space as is the whole forum. And he was now not far from the gate of the Palatine, shouting : “We have conquered treacherous hosts, a host1 unfit for war : But they know now that it is one thing to abduct maidens, and by far another to fight with men.” Against the man making these boasts, with a gang of the most ferocious young men, Romulus made his attack. And by chance, Mettius was then fighting from horseback : as such, he was much more easily repelled. The Romans pursued the man they had repelled ; and the other Roman battle-line, inflamed by the valour of their king, poured out over the Sabines. Mettius threw himself in the marsh, his horse agitated by the din of those pursuing him ; these events had had turned away the Sabines, to the threat of a man so great. And this man, his spirit assuredly increased by the gestures and shouts of his men, by the goodwill of so many, made his escape ; the Romans and the Sabines renewed the battle in the central ravine of the two mounts ; but the Roman interest was superior.

1. I decided to pun on two English meanings for host; that is, the host as someone who provides hospitality, and the host as an army. In the Latin, Livy makes a near pun between hospites, who provide hospitality, and hostes, enemies. I am pleased that the pun works better in English, albeit somewhat archaic English.

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