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 FOR a time Rome was ruled by Publius Valerius. He was a
good man. He caused laws to be passed for the benefit of the
people and was therefore called Publicola, which means
the people's friend. He had to fight Tarquin frequently. The
banished king was constantly trying to capture Rome and get
back his throne. He got help from various nations and
fought very hard, but was never successful in his efforts.
At one time he was aided by Lars Porsena, king of
Clusium, a city of Etruria, who gathered a large army and
set out to attack Rome.
But Porsena could not enter the city without crossing the
Tiber, and there was only one bridge. This was called the
Sublician Bridge. It was so called from the Latin word
sublicœ, which means wooden beams. When the Romans saw the
great army of Etruscans in the distance, they were much
alarmed. They were not prepared to fight so powerful a
force. The consul thought for a while, and then he resolved
to cut down the bridge as the only
 means of saving Rome. So
a number of men were at once set to work with axes and
It was hard work, for the bridge was very strongly built.
Before the beams supporting it were all cut away the army of
Porsena was seen approaching the river. What was to be done?
It would take a few minutes more to finish the work, and
if the farther end of the bridge could be held against the
Etruscans for those few minutes all would be well for Rome.
But how was it to be held, and who would hold it? Suddenly
from the ranks of the Roman soldiers the brave
Horatius Cocles stepped out and cried to the consul:
"Give me two good men to help me, and I will hold the bridge
and stop the enemy from coming over."
Immediately two brave men, Spurius Lartius and Titus
Herminius, ran to his side. Then the three hurried over
to the other end of the bridge, and stood ready to keep off
When the army of Etruscans saw the three men standing to
keep them back a shout of laughter went up among them.
Three men to keep back thousands! How ridiculous! There
the three brave Romans stood, however, at the entrance of
the bridge, with determined faces and fearless eyes.
Very quickly three Etruscans—stout, able
fight-  ers—came forth from the army to give battle to the three Romans.
After a sharp combat the Etruscans were killed. Three more
came out and continued the fight, but they too were beaten
by Horatius and his companions.
But now the bridge began to shake and crack. Horatius felt
that it was about to fall, and he cried to Spurius and Titus
to run back to the other side. While they did so he stood
alone and defied the whole Etruscan army, which was now
rushing upon him. A whole army against one man! Javelins
were hurled at him, but he skillfully warded them off with
Just as the Etruscans reached him the last beam was cut
away, and the bridge fell with a tremendous crash. As it
was falling Horatius plunged into the Tiber, and praying to
the gods for help, he swam to the other side in safety.
The Romans received him with shouts of joy, and even the
Etruscans could not help raising a cheer in admiration of
The three Romans were well rewarded. A fine statue of
Horatius was built in one of the squares of the city. On
the base of the statue was placed a brass tablet, with an
account of the heroic deed engraved on it. The Senate also
gave Horatius as much land as he could plow around in a day.