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Geese Guard Against Gauls!

In light of the recent 'geese vs. US Airways' incident, I thought it might be nice to reflect on a time when geese and men (at least Romans) were all on the same side...

In the early 4th century BCE a vast horde of Gauls sacked the city of Rome. Romans gave it up rather easily, actually. Most fled to neighboring cities like Veii while the Senate, priests, and what was left of the Roman army migrated to the Capitol - defending and taking refuge in the temples there. The Gauls made easy pickings of what they found in the city. According to Livy:
For several days they had been directing their fury only against bricks and mortar. Rome was a heap of smouldering ruins, but something remained - the armed men in the Citadel, and when the Gauls saw that, in spite of everything, they remained unshaken and would never yield to anything but force, they resolved to attempt an assault. At dawn, therefore, on a given signal the whole vast horde assembled in the Forum; then, roaring out their challenge, they locked shields and moved up the slope of the Capitol." (5.43)
The Romans, however, used the advantage of being at the top of the hill and managed to beat the Gauls back. Yet the Gauls were determined and even though they had destroyed most of the food and supplies in their initial sack of the city, they began a siege on the hill.

During all of this, officials in Veii were determined to get a message through to the Roman Senate - despite the fact that the Senate was under siege. As the old saying goes, 'if there's a will, there's a way', and a young Roman soldier named Pontius Cominus managed to do it. "Floating on a life-buoy down the river to Rome, he took the shortest way to the Capitol up and over a bluff so steep that the Gauls had never thought of watching it." (5.46) But the Gauls did find out about it and figured if he could do it, then they should all be able to do it too.

One starlit night, they made the attempt. Having first sent an unarmed man to reconnoitre the route, they began the climb. It was something of a scramble: at the awkward spots a man would get a purchase for his feet on a comrade below him, then haul him up in his turn - weapons were passed up from hand to hand as the lie of the rocks allowed - until by pushing and pulling on another they reached the top. What is more, they accomplished the climb so quietly that the Romans on guard never heard a sound, and even the dogs - who are normally aroused by the least noise in the night - noticed nothing. It was the geese that saved them - Juno's sacred geese, which in spite of the dearth of provisions had not been killed. The cackling of the birds and the clapping of their wings awoke Marcus Manlius - a distinguished officer who had been consul three years before - and he, seizing his sword and giving the alarm, hurried, without waiting for the support of his bewildered comrades, straight to the point of danger. (5.46)

And that, my friends, is how the sacred geese of Juno saved Rome - since after that last attempt, the lack of food forced the Gaul to accept payment from the Romans to leave the city alone.

Latest Month

February 2015

2015 in review

1. Big Eyes (2014)****
2. Hercules (2014)***
3. Ida (2013)*****
4. Virunga (2014)****
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)*
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)**
7. Big Hero 6 (2014)*****
8. The Lego Movie (2014)**
9. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)****
10. Begin Again (2014)***
11. Last Days In Vietnam (2014)****
12. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)***
13. Boyhood (2014)**
14. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)***
15. Gone Girl (2014)***
16. The Boxtrolls (2014)***
17. Agent Carter: Season One (2015)*****
18. Whiplash (2014)****
19. Foxcatcher (2014)***
20. Beyond The Lights (2014)**
21. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)****
22. Outlander: Season One (2014)***
23. Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)*
24. Song of the Sea (2014)*****

1. A Vision of Fire ***
~~~~Gillian Anderson
2. The Name of the Game Is Death****
~~~~Dan J. Marlowe
3. Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Bennie Binnion****
~~~~Doug J. Swanson
4. In Real Life****
~~~~Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
5. The Outsmarting of Criminals***
~~~~Steven Rigolosi
6. Let's Go Crazy****
~~~~Alan Light
7. Tuck Everlasting****
~~~~Natalie Babbitt
8. Death Bed*
~~~~Stephen Greenleaf
9. Dead Pull Hitter****
~~~~Alison Gordon
10. Safe At Home***
~~~~Alison Gordon
11. Mortal Stakes****
~~~~Robert B. Parker
12. Night Game***
~~~~Alison Gordon
13. Striking Out***
~~~~Alison Gordon
14. Bra-Strap Bar & Grill**
~~~~Donna Camille
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