THE HORATII AND THE CURIATII
 THE third king of Rome was Tullus Hostilius. In his reign a
took place between three Roman brothers and three Latin
brothers. The combat came
about in this way:
For years the people of Rome and the people of
Alba, also called Latins, as has been already said, were
They would invade and plunder each other's lands. At last,
after many petty
contests, war was declared between the two nations.
King Tullus marched the Roman army to the
border of Alba, but here his progress was stopped
by a great force of Latins, under the command of
Mettius, the Alban king.
Tullus looked at the strong lines of Latin soldiers,
standing firm and resolute to resist the advance of
the Romans, and thought that it might be well to
have a talk with Mettius to see whether they could
not agree on some way of settling the quarrel
with-  out a fight between the two armies. So he sent for Mettius and
they talked the matter over. Mettius also wished very much
to avoid a battle,
and he said to Tullus:
"Would it not be well to fight in such a way that only a few
of our soldiers
would be killed instead of many? My plan is this: You shall
select three of the
best fighting men in the Roman army, and I will select the
best three in the
army of Alba. The six men shall fight in the presence of the
If the Romans win Alba will submit to Rome; but if the
Latins win then Rome must
submit to Alba. What say you to the plan?"
"It is a good one," said King Tullus, "and I agree to it.
May the best men win!"
With these words they separated, and went to prepare for the
combat on which
was to depend the fate of the two nations.
THE Romans selected as their champions three brothers
belonging to a
family known as the Horatius family. The brothers were
called the Horatii
because this word is the plural form of Horatius. The
Horatii brothers were tall,
handsome men, with wonderful strength, endurance, and
 The Albans also selected three brothers as their champions.
They were called the Curiatii. They were bold, skillful
for manly beauty
and strength, and were champions well worthy to fight for a
THE HORATII GOING FORTH TO BATTLE
When all was ready the Horatii and the Curiatii advanced to
of a large field and took their places. They carried short,
thick swords and
large, round shields made of stout leather and metal.
The two armies gathered around the six champions,
 but at a distance, so as to leave them plenty of room to
There was silence for a few moments, and then the shrill
notes of a
trumpet rang out as a signal for the battle. Clash! clang!
went the swords
upon the shields, and the fight began.
Quick, skillful blows were given for a short time, but no
one was seriously hurt.
Suddenly the Latins shouted in intense excitement. Lo! one
of the Horatii, after a
fierce struggle with one of the
Curiatii, was stricken down dead! The Romans groaned, hung
their heads, and looked
in anxious doubt at their remaining two champions.
Bravely the Horatii stood—two to three—and fought
with all their might.
Step by step they drove the Curiatii back across the field.
Cheers rang out from
the Romans at this heroic effort. The victory might yet be
But alas! one of the Curiatii, with a swift, sly
sword-thrust, killed another
of the Horatii. Then the Latins shouted:
"We have won! We have won! We have won! Hail to the brave
The Romans were wild with grief and rage. They had now but
left—Horatius, the last of the heroic Horatii—and he
was running from the field,
as if he had given up the fight. He
 was followed by the Curiatii, though they were all
wounded. One of them, running ahead of the others, came up
to Horatius and was raising his
sword when the Roman turned upon him quickly and slew him.
The cries of the two armies were now hushed,
as if by magic. All eyes were upon the champions, and there
was a painful silence.
Another of the Curiatii now came up and began
to fight Horatius. But the Roman met the attack with great
coolness and skill,
and soon killed the second Latin. Thus, under the pretence
of running away,
Horatius separated the Curiatii and slew two of them. Then
he advanced in a furious
manner on the other Latin and began a desperate fight with
him. Soon he struck him down with a deadly blow. Rome was
From the whole Roman army now came the cry, as if from one
"Hail to the brave Horatius! Hail to the champion and
savior of his country!"
Then they seized Horatius in their arms and bore
him in triumph to King Tullus, who placed on his head the
laurel wreath of victory.
This was one of the ways by which the Romans honored any
of their soldiers
who had been very brave in battle. But they also honored
Horatius by erecting
a statue of him in one of the temples of the city.
 WITH songs of joy the army marched back to Rome. Horatius
walked by the side of the king.
A throng of women came forth from the gates of the city,
eager to greet the soldiers
and to rejoice with them over the great victory. The sister
of Horatius was in the throng.
She had been secretly engaged to be married to one of the
Curiatii, for the Romans
and Albans were near neighbors and frequently visited one
another in times of peace.
When she learned that her brother had slain her lover she
began to weep bitterly.
Then pointing at Horatius she cried out:
"You have killed my lover. Do not come near me. I hate and
Horatius, in a fit of anger, suddenly drew his sword and
stabbed her to the heart.
As she fell dead at his feet he cried in a loud voice:
"So perish the Roman maiden who weeps for her
For this shocking murder Horatius was tried and sentenced to
But the people would not allow the sentence to be carried
He was made to do a certain penance for the crime and
afterwards was set free.