Following the defeat at Alia, many of the citizens of Rome fled to the surrounding countryside. They left behind them nine old patricians, who ensconced themselves in a courtyard to await their deaths. As it happened, however, desecration and occupation were less on Brennus' mind than the spoils of war. His warriors were unnerved by the stillness of the empty city as they searched it, looking for plunder.
Imagine their surprise when they encountered the patricians, who were seated, Livy says, on columns and decked out in their best purple robes. For a long time, the dusty, mustached invaders and the patricians studied one another. Then, plucking up his courage, one of the Celts reached up and tweaked the beard of one Marcus Papirius. The old man whacked him with his staff.
The comedy was soon replaced by tragedy, and all the patricians were slaughtered.