This instance nearly resembles that of the Roman envoys; and offers a warning to all rulers never to think so lightly of any man as to suppose, that when wrong upon wrong has been done him, he will not bethink himself of revenge, however great the danger he runs, or the punishment he thereby brings upon himself.
If we note well the course of human affairs, we shall often find things come about and accidents befall, against which it seems to be the will of Heaven that men should not provide. And if this were the case even in Rome, so renowned for her valour, religion, and wise ordinances, we need not wonder if it be far more common in other cities and provinces wherein these safeguards are wanting.
Having here a notable opportunity to show how Heaven influences men’s actions, Titus Livius turns it to account, and treats the subject at large and in pregnant words, where he says, that since it was Heaven’s will, for ends of its own, that the Romans should feel its power, it first of all caused these Fabii, who were sent as envoys to the Gauls, to act amiss, and then by their misconduct stirred up the Gauls to make war on Rome; and, lastly, so ordered matters that nothing worthy of their name was done by the Romans to withstand their attack. For it was fore-ordained by Heaven that Camillus, who alone could supply the remedy to so mighty an evil, should be banished to Ardea; and again, that the citizens, who had often created a dictator to meet attacks of the Volscians and other neighbouring hostile nations, should fail to do so when the Gauls were marching upon Rome. Moreover, the army which the Romans got together was but a weak one, since they used no signal effort to make it strong; nay, were so dilatory in arming that they were barely in time to meet the enemy at the river Allia, though no more than ten miles distant from Rome. Here, again, the Roman tribunes pitched their camp without observing any of the usual precautions, attending neither to the choice of ground, nor to surround themselves with trench or Palisade, nor to avail themselves of any other aid, human or Divine. In ordering their army for battle, moreover, disposed it in weak columns, and these far apart: so that neither men nor officers accomplished anything worthy of the Roman discipline. The battle was bloodless for the Romans fled before they were attacked; most of them retreating to Veii, the rest to Rome, where, without turning aside to visit their homes, they made straight for the Capitol.