Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/287

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273
BATTLE OF CHALONS.

also by a desire of turning to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally spread throughout the Roman Empire, and must have been well known to the watchful and ruthless Hun.

The year 445 of our era completed the twelfth century from the foundation of Rome, according to the best chronologers. It had always been believed among the Romans that the twelve vultures, which were said to have appeared to Romulus when he founded the city, signified the time during which the Roman power should endure. The twelve vultures denoted twelve centuries. This interpretation of the vision of the birds of destiny was current among learned Romans, even when there were yet many of the twelve centuries to run, and while the imperial city was at the zenith of its power. But as the allotted time drew nearer and nearer to its conclusion, and as Rome grew weaker and weaker beneath the blows of barbaric invaders, the terrible omen was more and more talked and thought of; and in Attila's time, men watched for the momentary extinction of the Roman State with the last beat of the last vulture's wing. Moreover, among the numerous legends connected with the foundation of the city, and the fratricidal death of Remus, there was one most terrible one, which told that Romulus did