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THE HORATIII AND CURIATII
 ROMULUS was succeeded by a king named Numa Pompilius,
of Sabine origin, who so loved peace that during his
reign Rome had no wars and no enemies, so that the
doors of the Temple of Janus were never once opened
while he was on the throne. He built a temple to Faith,
that men might learn to avoid falsehood and to act
honestly. He taught the people to sacrifice nothing but
the fruits of the earth, cakes of flour, and roasted
corn, and to shed no blood upon the altars. And so Rome
was peaceful and prosperous throughout his long reign,
and grew rapidly in wealth and population. He died at
length when eighty years of age, and was succeeded by
Tullus Hostilius, a king of Roman birth.
The new king loved war as much as the gentle Numa had
loved peace. Under his rule the gates of the Temple of
Janus were soon thrown open again, long to remain so.
His first war was with the city of Alba Longa, the
foster-parent of Rome. Some border troubles brought on
hostilities, war broke out, and an Alban army marched
until within fifteen miles of Rome. And here took place
a celebrated incident. The two armies were drawn out on
the field, and were about to plunge into the dreadful
 of battle, when the Alban king, to whom the war seemed
a foolish and useless one, stood out between the two
armies and spoke in the hearing of both.
He reminded them that the Romans and Albans were of the
same origin, and that they were surrounded by nations
who would like to see both of them weakened. He
proposed, therefore, that the dispute between them
should be decided not by battle, but by a duel between
a few soldiers, and that the side which won should rule
the other. This proposal seemed to Tullus a sensible
one, and he accepted it, offering as the combatants on
his side three brothers known as the Horatii.
The Alban army had also three brave brothers, of about
the same age as the Roman champions, known as the
Curiatii, and these were chosen to uphold the honor and
dominion of Alba against Rome. So, with the two armies
as spectators, and a broad space between for the deadly
duel, the six champions, fully armed, faced each other
in the field.
The onset was fierce, and set every heart in the two
armies throbbing in hope or dread. But after a short
time a shout of triumph went up from the Alban host.
Two of the Horatii lay stretched in death on the field.
The Curiatii were all wounded, but they were now three
to one, so the remaining Horatius turned and fled,
though he was still unhurt. Dismay full on the Romans
as they saw their single champion in full flight,
pursued by his opponents. The glad shouts of the Albans
Suddenly a change came. The fugitive, whose flight had
been a feint, to separate his foes, now
 turned and saw that the wounded men were lagging in
pursuit and were widely separated. Running quickly
back, he met the nearest, and killed him with a blow.
The other two were met and slain in succession before
they could aid each other. Then, holding up his bloody
sword in triumph, the victor invited the plaudits of
his friends, while shedding dismay on Alban hearts.
The Romans, now lords of the Albans, returned to Rome
in triumph, their advent to the city being marked by
the first of those pompous processions which in after
years became known as Roman Triumphs, and were
celebrated with the utmost splendor and costliness of
But the affair of the Horatii and Curiatii was not yet
at an end. It was to be finished in blood and crime. A
sister of the Horatii was the affianced bride of one of
the Curiatii, and as she saw her victorious brother
enter the city, bearing on his shoulders the military
cloak which she had wrought for her lover with her own
hands, she broke into wild invectives, tearing her
hair, and upbraiding her brother with bitter words.
Roused to fury by this accusation, the victor, in a
paroxysm of rage, struck his sister to the heart with
the sword which had slain her lover, crying out, "So
perish the Roman maiden who shall weep for her
This dreadful deed filled with horror the hearts of all
who beheld it. Men cried that it was a crime against
the law and the gods, too great to be atoned for by the
victor's services. He was seized and dragged to the
tribunal of the two judges who dealt
 with crimes of bloodshed. These heard the evidence of
the crime, and condemned him to death, in despite of
what he had done for Rome.
But the Roman law permitted an appeal from the judges
to the people. This appeal Horatius made, and it was
tried before the assembly of Romans. Here his father
spoke in his favor, saying that in his opinion the
maiden deserved her fate. Remembrance of the great
service performed by Horatius was also strong with the
people, and the voice of the assembly freed him from
the sentence of death. But blood had been shed, and
blood required atonement, so a sum of money was set
aside to pay for sacrifices to atone for this dreadful
deed. Ever afterwards these sacrifices were performed
by members of the Horatian clan.
In a later war the Albans failed to aid the Romans, as
they were required to do by the terms of alliance. As a
result the city of Alba was destroyed, and the Albans
forced to come and live in Rome, the Cælian Hill being
given them for a dwelling-place.