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"Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;

I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.1
In yon strait2 path a thousand

May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"

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"Horatius," quoth the Consul,
"As thou sayest, so let it be."

And straight against that great array
Forth went the dauntless Three.

1 Hold the foe in play: keep them occupied.

2 Strait: narrow.

3 Spu'rius Lar'tius.

4 Ramnian: one of the three ancient patrician or ruling classes of Rome dating from its foundation by Romulus.

5 Hermin'ius.

6 Titian: one of the three ancient tribes of which the Ramnian was the first. 7 Quoth: said.

For Romans in Rome's quarrel

Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.


Then none was for a party;

Then all were for the state;

Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great:
Then lands were fairly portioned; 1
Then spoils were fairly sold: 1
The Romans were like brothers
In the brave days of old.


Now Roman is to Roman

More hateful than a foe,
And the Tribunes 2 beard the high,
And the Fathers 3 grind the low.

As we wax hot in faction,4

In battle we wax cold:

Wherefore men fight not as they fought
In the brave days of old.


Now while the Three were tightening
Their harness 5 on their backs,

1 Lands, spoils: the lands and plunder taken in war.

2 Tribunes: officers appointed to protect the interests of the common people of Rome. They could veto any measure they thought harmful. 8 Fathers: see note 4, p. 7.

4 Faction: here, political dissension or discord. 5 Harness: armor.

The Consul was the foremost man
To take in hand an axe:

And Fathers mixed with Commons,1
Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,2
And smote upon the planks above,
And loosed the props below.


Meanwhile the Tuscan army,

Right glorious to behold,

Came flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright
Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded
A peal of warlike glee,

As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced, and ensigns 4 spread,
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,
Where stood the dauntless Three.


The Three stood calm and silent,
And looked upon the foes,
And a great shout of laughter
From all the vanguard 5 rose:
And forth three chiefs came spurring
Before that deep array;

1 Commons: the common people. 8 Props: it was a wooden bridge. 4 Ensigns: banners.

2 Crow: crowbar. See note 10, “Janiculum," p. 7.

5 Vanguard: the advance guard.

To earth they sprang, their swords they drew
And lifted high their shields, and flew
To win the narrow way;


Aunus1 from green Tifernum,2
Lord of the Hill of Vines;

And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves

Sicken in Ilva's mines;

And Picus, long to Clusium

Vassal in peace and war,

Who led to fight his Umbrian powers

From that gray crag where, girt with towers,
The fortress of Nequinum lowers 8

O'er the pale waves of Nar.9


Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus

Into the stream beneath;

Herminius struck at Seius,

And clove him to the teeth:

At Picus brave Horatius

Darted one fiery thrust;

And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
Clashed in the bloody dust.

1 Au'nus.

2 Tifer num: a town of Umbria, on the Tiber.

8 Seius (Se'yus).

4 Il'va: an island (the modern Elba) off the coast of Etruria, once noted

for its iron mines.

3 Vassal: a dependent.

5 Pi'cus.

7 Nequi'num: a town of Umbria.

8 Lowers having a gloomy or threatening look.

9 Nar: a river of Umbria.


Then Ocnus 1 of Falerii 2

Rushed on the Roman Three;
And Lausulus3 of Urgo,4

The Rover of the sea;
And Aruns of Volsinium,7

Who slew the great wild boar,
The great wild boar that had his den
Amidst the reeds of Cosa's 8 fen,9

And wasted fields, and slaughtered men,
Along Albinia's shore.10


Herminius smote down Aruns:

Lartius laid Ocnus low:
Right to the heart of Lausulus
Horatius sent a blow.

"Lie there," he cried, "fell 11 pirate!

No more, aghast and pale,

From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
The track of thy destroying bark.
No more Campania's 12 hinds 13 shall fly
To woods and caverns when they spy
Thy thrice accursed sail."

1 Oc'nus.

8 Lausu'lus.

2 Fa-le'ri-i: a town of Etruria.

4 Ur'go: an island off the coast of Etruria

5 Rover here used in the sense of pirate and kidnapper.

6 A'runs.

8 Co'sa: a town of Etruria.

10 Albi'nia: a river of Etruria.

7 Volsin'ium: a city of Etruria.

9 Fen: a marsh.

11 Fell: cruel.

12 Campa'nia: a very fertile district of Italy, south of Rome, having

Naples as its chief port.

18 Hinds: farm-laborers, peasants.

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