In pursuance of his new plans, Tarquin obtained the help of the people of Veii and Tarquinii and marched against Rome. He was met by an army under Brutus, and a bloody battle was fought near Arsia. Brutus was killed and the Etruscans were about to claim the victory, when, in the night, the voice of the god Silvanus was heard saying that the killed among the Etruscans outnumbered by one man those of the Romans. Upon this the Etruscans fled, knowing that ultimate victory would not be theirs. This is not the way that a modern army would have acted. Valerius returned to Rome in triumph, and the matrons mourned Brutus as the avenger of Lucretia, an entire year.

This is the time of heroes and of highly ornamented lays, and we are not surprised to find truth covered up beneath a mass of fulsome bombast. It is related that Tarquinius now obtained the help of Prince or Lars Porsena of Clusium in Etruria, and with a large army proceeded undisturbed quite up to the Janiculum Hill on his march to Rome. There he found himself separated from the object of his long struggle only by the wooden bridge. We may picture to ourselves the city stirred to its centre by the fearful prospect before it. The bridge that had been of so much use, that the pontifices had so carefully built and preserved, must be cut away, or all was lost. At this critical juncture, the brave Horatius Cocles, with one on either hand, kept the enemy at bay while willing arms swung the axes against the supports of the structure, and when it was just ready to fall uttered a prayer to Father Tiber, plunged into the muddy torrent, fully armed as he was, and swam to the opposite shore amid the plaudits of the rejoicing people, as related in the ballad of Lord Macaulay. Then it was, too, that the people determined to erect a bridge which could be more readily removed in case of necessity. Baffled in this attempt to enter Rome, the enemy laid siege to the city, and as it was unprepared, it soon suffered the distress of famine. Then another brave man arose, Caius Mucius by name, and offered to go to the camp of the invaders and kill the hated king. He was able to speak the Etruscan language, and felt that a little audacity was all that he needed to carry his mission out safely. Though he went boldly, he killed a secretary dressed in purple, instead of his master, and was caught and threatened with torture. Putting his right hand into the fire on the altar near by, he held it there until it was destroyed, [Footnote: Mucius was after this called Scævola, the left-handed.] and said that suffering had no terrors for him, nor for three hundred of his companions who had all vowed to kill the king. The Roman writers say that, thereupon Porsena took hostages from them and made peace. It is true that peace was made, but Rome was forced to agree not to use iron except in cultivating the earth, and she lost ten of her thirty "regions," being all the territory that the kings had conquered on the west bank of the Tiber. [Footnote: See Niebuhr's Lectures , chapter xxiv.]

Tarquin had been foiled in his attempts to regain his throne, but still he tried again, the last time having the aid of his son-in-law, Mamilius of Tusculum. It was a momentous juncture. The weakened Romans were to encounter the combined powers of the thirty Latin cities that had formerly been in league with them. They needed the guidance of one strong man; but they had decreed that there should never be a king again, and so they appointed a "dictator" with unlimited power, for a limited time. We shall find them resorting to this expedient on other occasions of sudden and great trouble. A fierce struggle followed at Lake Regillus, in which the Latins were turned to flight through the intervention of Castor and Pollux, who fought at the head of the Roman knights on foaming white steeds. There was no other quarter to which Tarquinius could turn for help, and he therefore fled to Cumæ, where he died after a wretched old age. A temple was erected on the field of the battle of Lake Regillus in honor of Castor and Pollux, and thither annually on the fifteenth of July the Roman knights were wont to pass in solemn procession, in memory of the fact that the twins had fought at the head of their columns in the day of distress when fortune seemed to be about to desert the national cause. At this battle Caius Marcius, a stripling descended from Ancus Marcius, afterwards known as Coriolanus, received the oaken crown awarded to the man who should save the life of a Roman citizen, because he struck down one of the Latins, in the presence of the commander, just as he was about to kill a Roman soldier.

In the year 504 B.C., there was in the town of Regillum, a man of wealth and importance, who, at the time of the war with the Sabines, had advocated peace, and as his fellow-citizens were firmly opposed to him, left them, accompanied by a long train of followers (much as we suppose the first Tarquin left Tarquinii), and took up his abode in Rome. The name of this man was Atta Clausus, or perhaps Atta Claudius, but, however that may be, he was known at Rome as Appius Claudius. He was received into the ranks of the patricians, ample lands were assigned to him and his followers, and he became the ancestor of one of the most important Roman families, that of Claudius, noted through a long history for its hatred of the plebeians. His line lasted some five centuries, as we shall have occasion to observe.