Vienna, Lepanto, Tours, all turning points against the encroachment of Islam that the descendants of Europe would do well to remember, and my friend the Didact has reminded us of Lepanto, in the poem by Chesterson. This battle was not merely pivotal, but is notable as well in that the Spanish author Cervantes participated, and was badly injured. Later, having further spent five years as a slave in Algiers, he wrote Don Quixote.

In that spirit, I’ll turn away from the defense of the west against Islam, but to the defense of the west against horrible odds – for we are threatened by those not only without, but within.

A man, and his two friends, on a bridge, against the hordes threatening Rome.

**Horatius*Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Macaulay I LARS Porsena of Clusium   By the Nine Gods he swore That the great house of Tarquin   Should suffer wrong no more. By the Nine Gods he swore it,   And named a trysting day, And bade his messengers ride forth, East and west and south and north,   To summon his array. II East and west and south and north   The messengers ride fast, And tower and town and cottage   Have heard the trumpet’s blast. Shame on the false Etruscan   Who lingers in his home, When Porsena of Clusium   Is on the march for Rome. III The horsemen and the footmen   Are pouring in amain From many a stately market-place;   From many a fruitful plain; From many a lonely hamlet,   Which, hid by beech and pine, Like an eagle’s nest, hangs on the crest   Of purple Apennine; IV From lordly Volaterræ,   Where scowls the far-famed hold Piled by the hands of giants   For godlike kings of old; From seagirt Populonia,   Whose sentinels descry Sardinia’s snowy mountain-tops   Fringing the southern sky; V From the proud mart of Pisæ,   Queen of the western waves, Where ride Massilia’s triremes   Heavy with fair-haired slaves; From where sweet Clanis wanders   Through corn and vines and flowers; From where Cortona lifts to heaven   Her diadem of towers. VI Tall are the oaks whose acorns   Drop in dark Auser’s rill; Fat are the stags that champ the boughs   Of the Ciminian hill; Beyond all streams Clitumnus   Is to the herdsman dear; Best of all pools the fowler loves   The great Volsinian mere. VII But now no stroke of woodman   Is heard by Auser’s rill; No hunter tracks the stag’s green path   Up the Ciminian hill; Unwatched along Clitumnus   Grazes the milk-white steer; Unharmed the water fowl may dip   In the Volsinian mere. VIII The harvests of Arretium,   This year, old men shall reap; This year, young boys in Umbro   Shall plunge the struggling sheep; And in the vats of Luna,   This year, the must shall foam Round the white feet of laughing girls   Whose sires have marched to Rome. IX There be thirty chosen prophets,   The wisest of the land, Who always by Lars Porsena   Both morn and evening stand: Evening and morn the Thirty   Have turned the verse o’er, Traced from the right on linen white   By mighty seers of yore. X And with one voice the Thirty   Have their glad answer given: ‘Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena;   Go forth, beloved of Heaven; Go, and return in glory   To Clusium’s royal dome; And hang round Nurscia’s altars   The golden shields of Rome.’ XI And now hath every city   Sent up her tale of men; The foot are fourscore thousand,   The horse are thousands ten. Before the gates of Sutrium   Is met the great array. A proud man was Lars Porsena   Upon the trysting day. XII For all the Etruscan armies   Were ranged beneath his eye, And many a banished Roman,   And many a stout ally; And with a mighty following   To join the muster came The Tusculan Mamilius,   Prince of the Latian name. XIII But by the yellow Tiber   Was tumult and affright: From all the spacious champaign   To Rome men took their flight. A mile around the city,   The throng stopped up the ways; A fearful sight it was to see   Through two long nights and days. XIV For aged folks on crutches,   And women great with child, And mothers sobbing over babes   That clung to them and smiled, And sick men borne in litters   High on the necks of slaves, And troops of sun-burned husbandmen   With reaping-hooks and staves, XV And droves of mules and asses   Laden with skins of wine, And endless flocks of goats and sheep,   And endless herds of kine, And endless trains of waggons   That creaked beneath the weight Of corn-sacks and of household goods,   Choked every roaring gate. XVI Now, from the rock Tarpeian,   Could the wan burghers spy The line of blazing villages   Red in the midnight sky. The Fathers of the City,   They sat all night and day, For every hour some horseman came   With tidings of dismay. XVII To eastward and to westward   Have spread the Tuscan bands; Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote   In Crustumerium stands. Verbenna down to Ostia   Hath wasted all the plain; Astur hath stormed Janiculum,   And the stout guards are slain. XVIII I wis, in all the Senate,   There was no heart so bold, But sore it ached, and fast it beat,   When that ill news was told. Forthwith up rose the Consul,   Up rose the Fathers all; In haste they girded up their gowns,   And hied them to the wall. XIX They held a council standing,   Before the River-Gate; Short time was there, ye well may guess,   For musing or debate. Out spake the Consul roundly:   ‘The bridge must straight go down; For, since Janiculum is lost,   Nought else can save the town.’ XX Just then a scout came flying,   All wild with haste and fear: ‘To arms! to arms! Sir Consul:   Lars Porsena is here.’ On the lows hills to westward   The Consul fixed his eye, And saw the swarthy storm of dust   Rise fast along the sky. XXI And nearer fast and nearer   Doth the red whirlwind come; And louder still and still more loud, From underneath that rolling cloud, Is heard the trumpet’s war-note proud,   The trampling, and the hum. And plainly and more plainly   Now through the gloom appears, Far to left and far to right, In broken gleams of dark-blue light, The long array of helmets bright,   The long array of spears. XXII And plainly and more plainly,   Above that glimmering line, Now might ye see the banners   Of twelve fair cities shine; But the banner of proud Clusium   Was highest of them all, The terror of the Umbrian,   The terror of the Gaul. XXIII And plainly and more plainly   Now might the burghers know, By port and vest, by horse and crest,   Each warlike Lucumo. There Cilnius of Arretium   On his fleet roan was seen; And Astur of the four-fold shield, Girt with the brand none else may wield, Tolumnius with the belt of gold, And dark Verbenna from the hold   By reedy Thrasymene. XXIV Fast by the royal standard,   O’erlooking all the war, Lars Porsena of Clusium   Sat in his ivory car. By the right wheel rode Mamilius,   Prince of the Latian name; And by the left false Sextus,   That wrought the deed of shame. XXV But when the face of Sextus   Was seen among the foes, A yell that rent the firmament   From all the town arose. On the house-tops was no woman   But spat towards him and hissed, No child but screamed out curses,   And shook its little fist. XXVI But the Consul’s brow was sad,   And the Consul’s speech was low, And darkly looked he at the wall,   And darkly at the foe. ‘Their van will be upon us   Before the bridge goes down; And if they once may win the bridge,   What hope to save the town?’ XXVII Then out spake brave Horatius,   The Captain of the gate: ‘To every man upon this earth   Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better   Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers,   And the temples of his Gods, XXVIII ‘And for the tender mother   Who dandled him to rest, And for the wife who nurses   His baby at her breast, And for the holy maidens   Who feed the eternal flame, To save them from false Sextus   That wrought the deed of shame? XXIX ‘Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,   With all the speed ye may; I, with two more to help me,   Will hold the foe in play. In yon strait path a thousand   May well be stopped by three. Now who will stand on either hand,   And keep the bridge with me?’ XXX Then out spake Spurius Lartius;   A Ramnian proud was he: ‘Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,   And keep the bridge with thee.’ And out spake strong Herminius;   Of Titian blood was he: ‘I will abide on thy left side,   And keep the bridge with thee.’ XXXI ‘Horatius,’ quoth the Consul,   ‘As thou sayest, so let it be.’ And straight against that great array   Forth went the dauntless Three. For Romans in Rome’s quarrel   Spared neither land nor gold, Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,   In the brave days of old. XXXII Then none was for a party;   Then all were for the state; Then the great man helped the poor,   And the poor man loved the great: Then lands were fairly portioned;   Then spoils were fairly sold: The Romans were like brothers   In the brave days of old. XXXIII Now Roman is to Roman   More hateful than a foe, And the Tribunes beard the high,   And the Fathers grind the low. As we wax hot in faction,   In battle we wax cold: Wherefore men fight not as they fought   In the brave days of old. XXXIV Now while the Three were tightening   Their harnesses on their backs, The Consul was the foremost man   To take in hand an axe: And Fathers mixed with Commons   Seized hatchet, bar, and crow, And smote upon the planks above,   And loosed the props below. XXXV Meanwhile the Tuscan army,   Right glorious to behold, Come flashing back the noonday light, Rank behind rank, like surges bright   Of a broad sea of gold. Four hundred trumpets sounded   A peal of warlike glee, As that great host, with measured tread, And spears advanced, and ensigns spread, Rolled slowly towards the bridge’s head,   Where stood the dauntless Three. XXXVI The Three stood calm and silent,   And looked upon the foes, And a great shout of laughter   From all the vanguard rose: And forth three chiefs came spurring   Before that deep array; To earth they sprang, their swords they drew, And lifted high their shields, and flew   To win the narrow way; XXXVII Aunus from green Tifernum,   Lord of the Hill of Vines; And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves   Sicken in Ilva’s mines; And Picus, long to Clusium   Vassal in peace and war, Who led to fight his Umbrian powers   From that grey crag where, girt with towers, The fortress of Nequinum lowers   O’er the pale waves of Nar. XXXVIII Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus   Into the stream beneath; Herminius struck at Seius,   And clove him to the teeth; At Picus brave Horatius   Darted one fiery thrust; And the proud Umbrian’s gilded arms   Clashed in the bloody dust. XXXIX Then Ocnus of Falerii   Rushed on the Roman Three; And Lausulus of Urgo,   The rover of the sea; And Aruns of Volsinium,   Who slew the great wild boar, The great wild boar that had his den Amidst the reeds of Cosa’s fen, And wasted fields, and slaughtered men,   Along Albinia’s shore. XL Herminius smote down Aruns:   Lartius laid Ocnus low: Right to the heart of Lausulus   Horatius sent a blow. ‘Lie there,’ he cried, ‘fell pirate!   No more, aghast and pale, From Ostia’s walls the crowd shall mark The track of thy destroying bark. No more Campania’s hinds shall fly To woods and caverns when they spy   Thy thrice accursed sail.’ XLI But now no sound of laughter   Was heard among the foes. A wild and wrathful clamour   From all the vanguard rose. Six spears’ lengths from the entrance   Halted that deep array, And for a space no man came forth   To win the narrow way. XLII But hark! the cry is Astur:   And lo! the ranks divide; And the great Lord of Luna   Comes with his stately stride. Upon his ample shoulders   Clangs loud the four-fold shield, And in his hand he shakes the brand   Which none but he can wield. XLIII He smiled on those bold Romans   A smile serene and high; He eyed the flinching Tuscans,   And scorn was in his eye. Quoth he, ‘The she-wolf’s litter   Stand savagely at bay: But will ye dare to follow,   If Astur clears the way?’ XLIV Then, whirling up his broadsword   With both hands to the heights He rushed against Horatius,   And smote with all his might, With shield and blade Horatius   Right deftly turned the blow. The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh; It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh: The Tuscans raised a joyful cry   To see the red blood flow. XLV He reeled, and on Herminius   He leaned one breathing-space; Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds   Sprang right at Astur’s face. Through teeth, and skull, and helmet   So fierce a thrust he sped, The good sword stood a hand-breadth out   Behind the Tuscan’s head. XLVI And the great Lord of Luna   Fell at that deadly stroke, As falls on Mount Alvernus   A thunder smitten oak. Far o’er the crashing forest   The giant’s arms lie spread; And the pale augurs, muttering low,   Gaze on the blasted head. XLVII On Astur’s throat Horatius   Right firmly pressed his heel, And thrice and four times tugged amain,   Ere he wrenched out the steel. ‘And see,’ he cried, ‘the welcome,   Fair guests, that waits you here! What noble Lucumo comes next   To taste our Roman cheer?’ XLVIII But at his haughty challenge   A sullen murmur ran, Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,   Along that glittering van. There lacked not men of prowess,   Nor men of lordly race; For all Etruria’s noblest   Were round the fatal place. XLIX But all Etruria’s noblest   Felt their hearts sink to see On the earth the bloody corpses,   In the path the dauntless Three: And, from the ghastly entrance   Where those bold Romans stood, All shrank, like boys who unaware, Ranging the woods to start a hare, Come to the mouth of the dark lair Where, growling low, a fierce old bear   Lies amidst bones and blood. L Was none who would be foremost   To lead such dire attack: But those behind cried ‘Forward!’   And those before cried ‘Back!’ And backward now and forward   Wavers the deep array; And on the tossing sea of steel, To and fro the standards reel; And the victorious trumpet-peal   Dies fitfully away. LI Yet one man for one moment   Strode out before the crowd; Well known was he to all the Three,   And they gave gim greeting loud. ‘Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!   Now welcome to thy home! Why dost thou stay, and turn away?   Here lies the road to Rome.’ LII Thrice looked he at the city;   Thrice looked he at the dead; And thrice came on in fury,   And thrice turned back in dread: And, white with fear and hatred,   Scowled at the narrow way Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,   The bravest Tuscans lay. LIII But meanwhile axe and lever   Have manfully been plied; And now the bridge hangs tottering   Above the boiling tide. ‘Come back, come back, Horatius!’   Loud cried the Fathers all. ‘Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!   Back, ere the ruin fall!’ LIV Back darted Spurius Lartius;   Herminius darted back: And, as they passed, beneath their feet   They felt the timbers crack. But when they turned their faces,   And on the farther shore Saw brave Horatius stand alone,   They would have crossed once more. LV But with a crash like thunder   Fell every loosened beam, And, like a dam, the mighty wreck   Lay right athwart the stream: And a long shout of triumph   Rose from the walls of Rome, As to the highest turret-tops   Was splashed the yellow foam. LVI And, like a horse unbroken   When first he feels the rein, The furious river struggled hard,   And tossed his tawny mane, And burst the curb and bounded,   Rejoicing to be free, * And whirling down, in fierce career, Battlement, and plank, and pier,   Rushed headlong to the sea. LVII Alone stood brave Horatius,   But constant still in mind; Thrice thirty thousand foes before,   And the broad flood behind. ‘Down with him!’ cried false Sextus,   With a smile on his pale face. ‘Now yield thee,’ cried Lars Porsena,   ‘Now yield thee to our grace!’ LVIII Round turned he, as not deigning   Those craven ranks to see; Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,   To Sextus nought spake he; But he saw on Palatins   The white porch of his home; And he spake to the noble river   That rolls by the towers of Rome. LIX ‘Oh, Tiber! father Tiber!   To whom the Romans pray, A Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms,   Take thou in charge this day!’ So he spake, and speaking sheathed   The good sword by his side, And with his harness on his back,   Plunged headlong in the tide. LX No sound of joy or sorrow   Was heard from either bank; But friends and foes in dumb surprise, With parted lips and straining eyes,   Stood gazing where he sank; And when above the surges   They saw his crest appear, All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry, And even the ranks of Tuscany   Could scarce forbear to cheer. LXI But fiercely ran the current,   Swollen high by months of rain: And fast his blood was flowing;   And he was sore in pain, And heavy with his armour,   And spent with changing blows: And oft they thought him sinking,   But still again he rose. LXII Never, I ween, did swimmer,   In such an evil case, Struggle through such a raging flood   Safe to the landing place. But his limbs were borne up bravely   By the brave heart within, And our good father Tiber   Bare bravely up his chin. LXIII ‘Curse on him!’ quoth false Sextus;   ‘Will not the villain drown? But for this stay, ere close of day   We should have sacked the town!’ ‘Heaven help him!’ quoth Lars Porsena,   ‘And bring him safe to shore; For such a gallant feat of arms   Was never seen before.’ LXIV And now he feels the bottom;   Now on dry earth he stands; Now round him throng the Fathers;   To press his gory hands; And now, with shouts and clapping,   And noise of weeping loud, He enters through the River-Gate,   Borne by the joyous crowd. LXV They gave him of the corn-land,   That was of public right, As much as two strong oxen   Could plough from morn till night; And they made a molten image,   And set it up on high, And there it stands unto this day   To witness if I lie. LXVI It stands in the Comitium,   Plain for all folk to see; Horatius in his harness,   halting upon one knee: And underneath is written, *   In letters all of gold, How valiantly he kept the bridge   In the brave days of old. LXVII And still his name sounds stirring   Unto the men of Rome, As the trumpet-blast that cries to them   To charge the Volscian home; And wives still pray to Juno *   For boys with hearts as bold As his who kept the bridge so well   In the brave days of old. LXVIII And in the nights of winter,   When the cold north winds blow, And the long howling of the wolves   Is heard amidst the snow; When round the lonely cottage   Roars loud the tempest’s din, And the good logs of Algidus   Roar louder yet within; LXIX When the oldest cask is opened,   And the largest lamp is lit; When the chestnuts glow in the embers,   And the kid turns on the spit; When young and old in circle   Around the firebrands close; When the girls are weaving baskets,   And the lads are shaping bows; LXX When the goodman mends his armour,   And trims his helmet’s plume; When the goodwife’s shuttle merrily   Goes flashing through the loom; With weeping and with laughter   Still is the story told, How well Horatius kept the bridge   In the brave days of old.