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From Livy's History of Rome, Book 2, Section 10

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Latin with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Latin Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Latin language and its speakers' culture.

from Livy's History of Rome, Book 2, Section 10

Cum hostes adessent, pro se quisque in urbem ex agris demigrant, urbem ipsam saepiunt praesidiis. Alia muris, alia Tiberi obiecto videbantur tuta. Pons sublicius iter paene hostibus dedit, ni unus vir fuisset, Horatius Cocles. Id munimentum illo die fortuna urbis Romanae habuit. Qui positus forte in statione pontis. [Sentences omitted at this point.] Circumferens inde truces minaciter oculos ad proceres Etruscorum nunc singulos provocare, nunc increpare omnes. Servitia regum superborum, suae libertatis immemores alienam oppugnatum venire. Cunctati aliquamdiu sunt, dum alius alium, ut proelium incipiant, circumspectant Pudor deinde commovit aciem, et clamore sublato undique in unum hostem tela coniciunt. Quae cum in obiecto cuncta scuto haesissent, neque ille minus obstinatus ingenti pontem obtineret gradu. Iam impetu conabantur detrudere virum, cum simul fragor rupti pontis, simul clamor Romanorum alacritate perfecti operis sublatus, pavore subito impetum sustinuit. Tum Cocles "Tiberine pater," inquit, "te sancte precor, haec arma et hunc militem propitio flumine accipias." Ita sic armatus in Tiberim desiluit multisque superincidentibus telis incolumis ad suos tranavit rem ausus plus famae habituram ad posteros quam fidei.


When the enemies appeared, the Romans withdrew, everyone for himself, from the fields into the city, and they surrounded the city itself with guards. Some parts seemed to be secure by their walls, others by the Tiber in front of them. The bridge resting on piles almost provided a way in to the enemies, if there had not been one man, Horatius Cocles. He was the defense on the day that the fortune of the city of Rome depended. He by chance was placed on guard of the bridge. ... Then darting around fierce glances threateningly at the chiefs of the Etruscans, he now challenged them individually, now rebuked all of them as servants of haughty kings heedless of their own liberty who were coming to overthrow that of others. They hesitated for a while -- one looked after the other that they might begin the battle. Then they moved the line of battle, and with a haughty shout they threw their spears from all sides at a single enemy. When these all struck on his opposing shield, he no less obstinately held the bridge with great dispatch. Just as they tried to dislodge him by a charge, at the same time the crash of the falling bridge and the shouting of the Roman elated with delight at the completed work checked the charge with sudden dread. Then Cocles said: "Father Tiber, I pray you, oh holy one, that you receive these arms and this soldier with a propitious stream." In the manner armed as he was, he jumped down into the Tiber, and unharmed by the falling spears he swam across to his own. He had dared to perform a deed that would have more favor than belief among future generations.

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