The young man answered that his name was Caius Mucius, and that he was ready to do and dare anything for Rome. In answer to threats of torture, he quietly stretched out his right hand and thrust it into the flame that burnt in a brazier close by, holding it there without a sign of pain, while he bade Porsena see what a Roman thought of suffering.
Porsena was so struck that he at once gave the daring man his life, his freedom, and even his dagger; and Mucius then told him that three hundred youths like himself had sworn to have his life unless he left Rome to her liberty. This was false, but both the lie and the murder were for Rome’s sake; they were both admired by the Romans, who held that the welfare of their city was their very first duty. Mucius could never use his right hand again, and was always called Scaevola, or the Left-handed, a name that went on to his family.
Porsena believed the story, and began to make peace. A truce was agreed on, and ten Roman youths and as many girls were given up to the Etruscans as hostages. While the conferences were going on, one of the Roman girls named Clelia forgot her duty so much as to swim home across the river with all her companions; but Valeria, the consul’s daughter, was received with all the anger that breach of trust deserved, and her father mounted his horse at once to take the party back again. Just as they reached the Etruscan camp, the Tarquin father and brothers, and a whole troop of the enemy, fell on them. While the consul was fighting against a terrible force, Valeria dashed on into the camp and called out Porsena and his son. They, much grieved that the truce should have been broken, drove back their own men, and were so angry with the Tarquins as to give up their cause. He asked which of the girls had contrived the escape, and when Clelia confessed it was herself, he made her a present of a fine horse and its trappings, which she little deserved.
This Valerius was called Publicola, or the people’s friend. He died a year or two later, after so many victories that the Romans honored him among their greatest heroes. Tarquin still continued to seek support among the different Italian nations, and again attacked the Romans with the help of the Latins. The chief battle was fought close to Lake Regillus; Aulus Posthumius was the commander, but Marcus Valerius, brother to Publicola, was general of the horse. He had vowed to build a temple to Castor and Pollux if the Romans gained the victory; and in the beginning of the fight, two glorious youths of god-like stature appeared on horseback at the head of the Roman horse and fought for them. It was a very hard-fought battle. Valerius was killed, but so was Titus Tarquin, and the Latin force was entirely broken and routed. That same evening the two youths rode into the Forum, their horses dripping with sweat and their weapons bloody. They drew up and washed themselves at a fountain near the temple of Vesta,