Horatius by Thomas Babington Macaulay

In the city of Rome, a man named Horatius stood on an embankment and faced down thousands of Gauls. He fought them with his sword, holding off their charge until he was killed by one enemy soldier’s arrow that pierced through his neck. His death became famous because it marked the beginning of three decades in which Roman dominion over all other European nations was secured.,

The “the lays of ancient rome pdf” is a novel written by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The book was published in 1849 and tells the story of Horatius, a Roman soldier who defends the bridge on which he stands against the invading Gauls.

Horatius at the Bridge Painting.

Politician, poet, and historian Thomas Babington Macaulay fashioned semi-mythical old Roman stories into memorable ballads or “lays” while serving the English government in India in the 1830s. His most renowned song was “Horatius,” a ballad on the legendary bravery of Publius Horatius Cocles, an old Roman army commander. In the fifth century B.C., Rome revolted against Etruscan domination and established a republic by deposing its last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The monarch, however, refused to retire peacefully into the night, enlisting the aid of Lars Porsena of Clusium in an effort to destroy the new Roman administration and re-establish his rule.

The Roman army was defeated in a fight against the oncoming Etruscans, and they started to withdraw over the Tiber River bridge; here is where the epic narrative would be picked up by the poet.

This was one of Winston Churchill’s favorite poems, as we reported earlier this week in an article on the statesman’s moral code. As a child, he learned all 70 stanzas to encourage himself to be brave, and he would repeat the poem throughout his life. We’ve included a simplified version below due to the length of the “lay.” See here for the whole ballad.

Lays of Ancient Rome, 1842, “Horatius” Macaulay, Thomas Babington

The Tuscan bands have extended eastward and westward, and there is no home, fence, or dovecote in Crustumerium. From Verbenna to Ostia, the plain has been ravaged; Astur has attacked Janiculum, and the stalwart guards have been slaughtered.

In the Senate, I was the only one who knew. There has never been a braver heart. But it pained and pounded rapidly when the bad news was delivered. The Consul was the first to rise, followed by the Fathers, who hurriedly girded up their robes and hung them on the wall.

They convened a council in front of the River-gate; there was only a little time there, as you may imagine, for contemplation or argument. “The bridge must straight fall down; because, if Janiculum is gone, nothing else can preserve the town,” the Consul said emphatically.

“To arms! to arms!” screamed a scout, all hurry and panic in his voice. Lars Porsena has arrived, Sir Consul.” The Consul focussed his gaze westward on the low hills, and watched the swarthy cloud of dust rise quickly across the sky.

The crimson whirlwind is getting closer and closer; and it’s becoming louder and louder, from behind that rolling cloud. The trumpet’s pompous war-note, the stomping, and the buzz can be heard. And now, through the obscurity, it emerges, far to the left and far to the right, in broken gleams of dark-blue light, The long line of dazzling helmets, the long line of spears.

Lars Porsena of Clusium sat in his ivory vehicle, fast by the royal banner, seeing the whole fight. Mamilius, Prince of the Latian Name, rode on the right wheel, while false Sextus, who accomplished the shameful act, rode on the left.


When the visage of Sextus was seen among the adversaries, a cry erupted from the whole town, rending the heavens. No lady spit at him and shouted from the rooftops; no kid yelled insults and swung its fist.

But the Consul’s forehead was sorrowful, and his discourse was hushed, and he stared grimly at the wall and the enemies. “Their van will be on us before the bridge collapses; and even if they win the bridge, what prospect do they have for saving the town?”

Peoples are walking through the gate.

“To every man on this world, Death comesth soon or late,” courageous Horatius, the Captain of the Gate, said. And how can a man die better than in the face of dreadful odds, for his ancestors’ ashes and the temples of his gods?

“And for the soft mother who dandled him to sleep, and for the wife who nurses His infant at her breast, and for the holy maidens who feed the everlasting flame, to spare them from the crime of dishonor committed by false Sextus?”

“Haul down the bridge as quickly as you can, Sir Consul; I, with two more to assist me, will keep the enemies in play.” A thousand may be halted by three on yon narrow way. Now who will stand on each side of the bridge and guard the bridge with me?”

“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand, and watch the bridge with thee,” said Spurius Lartius, a proud Ramnian. “I will dwell on thy left side, and watch the bridge with thee,” said Herminius, who was of Titian blood.

“As thou sayest, so let it be,” the Consul says to Horatius. And the fearless Three charged right into that vast array. In the courageous days of old, Romans in Rome’s fight spared neither land nor riches, nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life.

While the Three were adjusting their harnesses on their backs, The Consul was the first to grab an axe: And there were Fathers mingled in with the Commons. Snatched a hatchet, a bar, and a crow, and smashed the boards above them, loosening the supports below them.

Meanwhile, the Tuscan army, which is really magnificent to see, marches forward, column after rank, like dazzling surges in a vast sea of gold, reflecting back the noonday sun. As that mighty force came with measured foot, spears advanced, and ensigns spread, 400 trumpets blew a ring of warlike delight. Slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly,

Three soldiers are standing.

The Three remained calm and still, staring at the adversaries, and a roar of laughter erupted from the whole vanguard: Three leaders appeared in front of the vast array, urging each other on. They leaped to ground, their swords drawn, their shields raised high, and they flew to gain the narrow path;

Picus, long to Clusium Vassal in peace and war, who led to fight his Umbrian powers; and Aunus from green Tifernum, Lord of the Hill of Vines; and Seius, whose eight hundred slaves Sicken in Ilva’s mines; and Aunus from green Tifernum, Lord of the Hill of Vines; and Seius, whose eight hundred slaves Sicken in Ilva’s mines; and Aunus from green Tifernum The castle of Nequinum, girt with turrets, drops O’er the pale waves of Nar from that bleak cliff.


Lartius, a strong man, flung Aunus into the creek below. Seius was hit by Herminius, and he was cloven to the teeth. Picus was struck by a flaming thrust from Horatius, and the proud Umbrian’s golden arms clashed in the red dust.

Then Ocnus of Falerii rushed on the Roman Three, as did Lausulus of Urgo, the sea rover; and Aruns of Volsinium, who murdered the large wild boar, the great wild boar that had his cave amongst the reeds of Cosa’s fen, and ruined farms, and butchered men, along Albinia’s beach.

Aruns was slain by Herminius: Lartius threw Ocnus to the ground: Horatius struck Lausulus in the heart. “Lie there, falling pirate!” he shouted. The audience will no longer record the course of thy destructive bark from Ostia’s walls, aghast and pallid. When they see Thy thrice accursed sail, Campania’s hinds will no longer flee to the forests and caves.”

Two soldiers are Fighting.

The opponents, on the other hand, were no longer laughing. From the vanguard as a whole, a furious and wrathful cry erupted. That deep array was halted six spears’ lengths from the entrance, and no one came forward for a while to gain the narrow path.

But the finest of Etruria felt their hearts sink as they saw the bleeding bodies on the ground and the dauntless Three on the path: And, from the horrible entrance, where those brave Romans stood, all withdrew, like youths who, unwittingly, rang the woods to start a hare, came to the opening of the dark cave, where, growling low, a ferocious old bear Lies among bones and blood.

For a brief while, one guy stood in front of the throng; He was well-known among the Three, and they greeted him enthusiastically. “Now, Sextus, welcome, welcome!” Welcome to thy new home! Why do you stand there and turn away? “This is the way to Rome.”

He stared at the city three times; he looked at the dead three times; and he came on in rage, and he turned back in terror: and, white with fear and wrath, he scowled at the small route. Where the fiercest Tuscans lay wallowing in a pool of blood.

But, in the meanwhile, axe and lever have been dutifully plied; And now the bridge dangles precariously over the raging sea. “Horatius, Horatius, Horatius!” The Fathers all called out in unison. “Lartius, come back!” Herminius, you’re back! Return, before the ruin falls!”

Spurius Lartius swerved back, Herminius swerved back, and they felt the timbers break under their feet as they passed. They would have crossed again if they had turned their faces and saw valiant Horatius standing alone on the opposite bank.

Every loosened beam, however, fell with a thunderous thud. And, like a dam, the massive wreck stood in the way of the flow: And from the tallest turret-tops of Rome, a great yell of victory rang forth. The yellow foam was splattered.

And, like an unbroken horse, When he initially gets a sense of the rein, The enraged river strained mightily, tossing his tawny mane. And dashed over the curb, bounding. Rejoicing in their newfound freedom, they whirled down the battlement, plank, and pier, rushing headfirst into the water.


With thrice thirty thousand opponents in front of him, and the huge torrent behind him, valiant Horatius stood alone. With a smirk on his pallid face, fake Sextus said, “Down with him!” “Now give,” Lars Porsena screamed, “now yield to our favor.”

He turned around, as if he didn’t want those craven ranks to see him; He said nothing to Lars Porsena, and he said nothing to Sextus. But he saw Palatinus’ white porch, which he recognized as his own. And he spoke to the magnificent river that runs beside Rome’s towers.

“Oh, Tiber!” exclaims the narrator. Tiber, Father! Take possession of this day, to whom the Romans pray, a Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms!” So he said, sheathing his fine sword at his side, and plunging headlong into the tide with his harness on his back.

From either bank, no sound of pleasure or grief could be heard; Friends and opponents stared in astonishment, with wide lips and strained eyes, at where he dropped; And as they saw his crest emerge above the waves, everyone of Rome let out a joyful yell, and even the ranks of Tuscany couldn’t help but applaud.

But the stream was violent, swollen high by months of rain: and his blood was running quickly; and he was suffering in anguish, heavy with his armor, and exhausted from changing blows: And they often feared he was drowning, but he rose again.

Never, in such a dreadful condition, did a swimmer struggle through such a rushing torrent Safe to the landing place: but his limbs were heroically carried up by the brave heart inside, and our good father Tiber bravely up his chin.

False Sextus exclaims, “Curse on him!” “Will the villain not drown?” But for this delay, we should have stormed the town by the end of the day!” Lars Porsena exclaims, “Heaven help him!” “And get him safely to shore; such a valiant display of armaments has never been witnessed before.”

And now he can feel the ground under his feet; He is now standing on dry ground; The Fathers are now swarming around him. to push his bloody fists together; He now passes through the River-Gate Borne by the jubilant mob, accompanied by shouting and applauding, as well as a loud wailing sounds.

Men standing ang hold a Sword in his hand.

They gave him public land, as much as two strong oxen could plough from morning to night; and they created a molten image, and placed it up on high, and it still remains to this day to testify if I lie.

It stands for everyone to see in the Comitium Plain; Horatius in his harness, halting on one knee: And underneath it is written, in gold letters, How bravely he guarded the bridge! Back in the good old days.



The “horatius quote” is a famous line from Horatius, a Latin poem written by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The poem tells the story of Horatius and his three friends who defended Rome against invaders in the year 390 BC.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the story Horatius at the bridge all about?

A: Horatius was a Roman hero who led the defence of Rome against its Etruscan enemies on one side and Germanic tribes on the other. The Lament for his death is by far one of the most famous passages in Latin literature, being quoted repeatedly throughout history.

What does Horatius say?

A: Come on, you Trojan heroes

What was the purpose of Horatius defense?

A: The Horatius defense is a military strategy based on the construction of barricades across bridges to delay and weaken an advancing enemy.

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