Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

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 Northern Italy.

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 the barbarians.

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 Rome.

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 attack others.

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 fought.

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.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus