THE BATTLE OF ALLIA
 THE inhabitants of Gaul, who dwelt in the country we now
call France, were tall, fair, blue-eyed warriors. Long
before the time of which I am going to tell you, they
had crossed the Alps and made themselves masters of
Now, in 389 B.C., they turned to the
south, crossed the Apennines, and came pouring down
into the valleys of Etruria. The city of Clusium, only
a few days' march from Rome, was the first to attract
There was peace at this time between Rome and Etruria,
and the inhabitants of Clusium, in fear of the
fierce-looking Gallic warriors, besought Rome to come
to their aid.
The Senate at once sent three patricians as ambassadors
to the Gauls, warning them not to attack the allies of
But the haughty barbarians, heedless of the
ambassadors' words, at once demanded from the Etruscans
land on which they and their families might settle.
When their request was refused, they began to fight.
Now the Roman ambassadors had no right to join in the
battle, for just as they were protected by their
mission from being attacked, so they were forbidden to
But forgetting, in their anger with the Gauls, that
they were ambassadors, the three Romans joined in the
defence of Clusium, and unfortunately slew one of the
Gallic chiefs and took his armour.
Brennus, the King of the Gauls, was so angry with the
envoys that he at once withdrew from Clusium, and
marched with his whole army through the valley of the
 Tiber toward Rome. He was determined to punish the
city for the folly of her ambassadors.
The Romans at once marched out to meet the enemy, and
in July, 390 B.C., near the Allia,
about ten miles from Rome, a terrible battle was
Although the Roman army was but forty thousand strong,
while the barbarians numbered seventy thousand, yet the
Romans had no fear. Against such uncouth foes they
were sure to win the victory. Thus in their insolence
and pride spoke the warriors of Rome.
But the battle day—it was the 18th of the
month—was one that was never to be forgotten by
the Roman legions.
Shouting their strange, fierce war-cries, the Gauls
rushed upon the foe, while the Romans, dismayed at the
wild appearance of the gigantic Gauls, and distracted
by their war-cries, were seized with sudden panic.
Without even attempting to fight, they turned and fled.
Pursued by the terrible barbarians, many of the
fugitives plunged in despair into the river Tiber, and
were drowned by the weight of their armour; many others
were overtaken and slain. Only a remnant of the army
reached Rome, for most of the fugitives who escaped
took refuge at Veii.
The Gauls themselves were astonished at their easily
won victory, for the fame of the Roman legions had
reached even these barbarous tribes.
In Rome the Battle of Allia was henceforth a name of
ill omen, nor would the Romans ever undertake a new
adventure on the 18th of July, lest it should be doomed
to failure, by the evil influence of that fatal day.
For many long years, the Romans, who feared no other
foe, trembled at the name of the barbarians.