Ab Urbe Condita

T. Livius

Eodem anno, seu motu terrae seu qua vi alia, forum medium ferme specu vasto conlapsum in immensam altitudinem dicitur; neque eam voraginem coniectu terrae, cum pro se quisque gereret, expleri potuisse, priusquam deum monitu quaeri coeptum quo plurimum populus Romanus posset; id enim illi loco dicandum vates canebant, si rem publicam Romanam perpetuam esse vellent. Tum M. Curtium, iuvenem bello egregium, castigasse ferunt dubitantes an ullum magis Romanum bonum quam arma virtusque esset, et silentio facto templa deorum immortalium, quae foro imminent, Capitoliumque intuentem et manus nunc in caelum nunc in patentes terrae hiatus ad deos manes porrigentem se devovisse; equo deinde quam poterat maxime exornato insidentem armatum se in specum immisisse, donaque ac fruges super eum a multitudine virorum ac mulierum congestas, lacumque Curtium non ab antiquo illo T. Tati milite Curtio Mettio sed ab hoc appellatum.

That same year, whether owing to an earthquake or to some other violent force, it is said that the ground gave way, at about the middle of the Forum, and, sinking to an immeasurable depth, left a prodigious chasm. This gulf could not be filled with the earth which everyone brought and cast into it, until admonished by the gods, they began to inquire what it was that constituted the chief strength of the Roman People; for this the soothsayers declared that they must offer up, as a sacrifice to that spot, if they wished the Roman Republic to endure. Thereupon Marcus Curtius, a young soldier of great prowess, rebuked them, so the story runs, for questioning whether any blessing were more Roman than arms and valor. A hush ensued, as he turned to the temples of the immortal gods which rise above the Forum, and to the Capitol, and stretching forth his hands, now to heaven, and now to the yawning chasm and to the gods below, devoted himself to death. After which, mounted on a horse caparisoned with all possible splendor, he plunged fully armed into the gulf and crowds of men and women threw offerings and fruits in after him. It was he, they say, and not Curtius Mettius, the soldier of Titus Tatius in days of old, who gave his name to the Curtian Lake.

Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of the Loeb Classical Library from T. Livius: History of Rome (Volume III: Books 5-7), Loeb Classical Library Vol. 172, translated by B.O. Foster, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, © 1924, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Loeb Classical Library ® is a registered trademark of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.