Zonaras 7.6 Part I – Tullus Hostilius and the Horatii

Tullus Hostilius becomes king and abandons Numa’s policy of peace; Conflict breaks out with Alba Longa; The Horatii fight the Curiatii

Upon the death of Numa, who had left behing no successor, Tullus Hostilius was selected as king by the people and senate. He, holding in contempt most of the ways of Numa, eagerly strove to emulate Romulus, and he therefore got himself up for battles and provoked the people. At one point, when the Albans had undertaken a plundering expedition against the Romans, the people of both cities set out for war against each other. Before it came to blows, they were reconciled, and it seemed suitable to both sides that they should each live together in one city. When each one held to its own and thought it proper that the people of the other side should move to their own, they abandoned this proposal. Thereupon, they came into conflict over the question of political supremacy. As neither side would cede control to the other, they decided to engage in a contest to decide which side would govern. It did not seem right to engage in a full-blown military contest, nor were they inclined to submit the decision to single combat. There were among both the Romans and the Albans sets of triplets, who were born of twin mothers, and were of equal age and strength. The triplets on the Roman side were called the Publii Horatii, and those on the Alban side were the Curiatii. The were then thrown into battle against each other, and disregarded any previous ties of kinship which they shared. They armed themselves, and having arrayed themselves in the middle of the field, they called upon their protector deities and looked uninterruptedly at the sun. When they came up against each other, they fought at first as a group, and then one-by-one. Finally, when two of the Romans had fallen and all three of the Albans had been wounded, Horatius – because he could not encounter all three Albans even though he himself were unwounded – turned himself to flight so that they would be separated from each other in their pursuit of him. Because they were torn asunder in the chase, Hostilius was able to set upon each one individually and slay them all, for which feat he was honored. He was, however, brought to trial for murder when he killed his sister, who had expressed her grief upon seeing him carring the spoils of her slain cousins. He pled his case before an assembly of the people, and was released from the charge.

Τοῦ δὲ Νόμα τελευτήσαντος καὶ μηδένα καταλιπόντος διάδοχον, ῾Οστίλλιος Τοῦλλος ᾑρέθη παρὰ τοῦ δήμου καὶ τῆς βουλῆς. ὃς τὰ πλεῖστα τῶν τοῦ Νόμα χλευάσας ἠθῶν τὸν ῾Ρωμύλον ἐζήλωσε, καὶ πρὸς μάχας αὐτός τε ὥρμα καὶ τὸν δῆμον ἠρέθιζεν. ἁρπαγῆς γοῦν γενομένης παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίων ἐξ ᾿Αλβανῶν, ὥρμησαν πρὸς μάχην ἑκάτεροι· πρὸ δὲ τοῦ συμβαλεῖν κατηλλάγησαν, καὶ ἐς μίαν πόλιν ἀμφοῖν ἐδόκει συνοικῆσαι τοῖς γένεσιν. ἑκάστου δὲ τῆς οἰκείας ἐχομένου καὶ τὸ ἕτερον εἰς ταύτην ἀξιοῦντος μεταναστεῦσαι, ἀπέστησαν τοῦ σκοποῦ. εἶτα περὶ τῆς ἡγεμονίας διηνέχθησαν· ὡς δὲ οὐδεὶς τῷ ἑτέρῳ παρεχώρει αὐτῆς, ἀγωνίσασθαι συνέθεντο περὶ τῆς ἀρχῆς. οὔτε δὲ τοῖς στρατοπέδοις ὅλοις ἐδόκει μαχέσασθαι οὔτε μὴν μονομαχίᾳ κριθήσεσθαι. ἦσαν δὲ παρ’ ἀμφοῖν τρίδυμοι ἀδελφοί, ἐκ μητέρων γεγονότες διδύμων, ἰσήλικές τε καὶ ἰσοπαλεῖς τὴν ἰσχύν· ἐκαλοῦντο δὲ οἱ μὲν τῶν ῾Ρωμαίων Πουπλιοράτιοι, οἱ δὲ τῶν ᾿Αλβανῶν Κουριάται. τούτους εἰς μάχην προεβάλοντο, παρ’ οὐδὲν τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους αὐτῶν συγγένειαν θέμενοι. οἱ δὲ ὁπλισάμενοι καὶ ἐν τῷ μεταιχμίῳ τῶν στρατοπέδων ἀντιπαραταξάμενοι θεούς τε ὁμογνίους ἀνεκαλοῦντο καὶ συνεχῶς ἀνέβλεπον πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον. συμβαλόντες δὲ ποτὲ μὲν ἀθρόοι, ποτὲ δὲ καὶ καθ’ ἕνα ἐμάχοντο. τέλος δὲ τῶν μὲν ῾Ρωμαίων τῶν δύο πεσόντων, τῶν δὲ ᾿Αλβανῶν ἁπάντων τρωθέντων, ὁ ῾Οράτιος ὁ κατάλοιπος, ὅτι τοῖς τρισὶν ἅμα, εἰ καὶ ἄτρωτος ἦν, οὐκ ἠδύνατο ἀντιτάξασθαι, ἐνέκλινεν, ὡς ἂν διώκοντες αὐτὸν σκεδασθῶσι· κἀπειδὴ πρὸς τὴν δίωξιν διεσπάρησαν, ἑκάστῳ ἐπιτιθέμενος ἅπαντας διεχρήσατο. κἀντεῦθεν τετίμητο· ὅτι δὲ καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν προσαπέκτεινεν, ὀλοφυρομένην, ἐπεὶ τὰ τῶν ἀνεψιῶν σκῦλα ἑώρα φέροντα τὸν ῾Οράτιον, φόνου ἐκρίθη· ἐς δὲ τὸν δῆμον ἔκκλητον αἰτήσας ἀφείθη.

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