Horatius at the Bridge Horatius at the Bridge
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Horatius Cocles, Roman soldier, defending the Pons Sublicius against the invading army of the king of Clusium, 6th Century BCOnce there was a war between the Roman people and the Etruscans. The Etruscans lived in the towns on the other side of the Tiber River. Porsena was the King of the Etruscans. He raised a great army, and they marched toward Rome. The city was in great danger, more than ever before.

The Romans did not have many fighting men at that time. They knew that they were not strong enough to fight the Etruscans. They kept themselves inside of their walls, and they set guards to watch the roads.

One morning a guard saw the army of Porsena coming over the hills from the north. There were thousands of horsemen and footmen. They were marching straight toward the wooden bridge that crossed the river to Rome.

A guard jumped down off the wall, and he ran to tell the city Fathers. “A great army is coming to attack us!” he told them.

“What should we do?” said the white-haired Fathers, who made the laws for the Roman people. “If they get to the bridge, we cannot stop them from crossing. And if they cross, there is no hope for our town.”

Now, one of the guards at the bridge was a brave man named Horatius. He was on the far side of the river nearest to the coming army. And when he saw that the Etruscans were close, he called out to the Romans behind him.

“Cut down the bridge with all the speed you can!” he cried. “With the help of these two men next to me, I will slow down the army.”

Horatius and the other two men held up their shields with their left hands, and they held out their long spears with their right. The three brave men stood in the road, and they kept back the horsemen of Porsena who came to take the bridge.

Back on the bridge the Romans cut away at the posts and planks of wood. The sound of their axes filled the air. The wood broke into little pieces. Soon the bridge shook and was ready to fall.

“Come back! Come back, and save your lives!” they cried to Horatius and the two men who were with him.

But just then Porsena’s horsemen attacked Horatius and the two men standing at his side.

“Run for your lives!” said Horatius to his friends. “I will keep the road.”

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This story is adapted from Fifty Famous People by James Baldwin.

I read this story! Honestly!

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