|The Story of the Romans|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Rome, presenting short stories of the great heroes, mythical and historical, from Aeneas and the founding of Rome to the fall of the western empire. Around the famous characters of Rome are graphically grouped the great events with which their names will forever stand connected. Vivid descriptions bring to life the events narrated, making history attractive to the young, and awakening their enthusiasm for further reading and study. Ages 10-14 |
THE QUARREL WITH ALBA
 FOR a long time the Roman people were in the habit of
burying their dead; but by and by they began to burn the
bodies, and keep the ashes in little urns.
When Numa Pompilius died, however, the people laid his
body in a stone coffin. Many years later, so the Romans
said, a farmer in plowing came across the tomb. He
opened it, and found in the coffin, besides the king's
bones, a number of old books. In them were written the laws
which Numa Pompilius had made for his people, and
an account of the religious ceremonies of his day.
The farmer, unfortunately, was a very ignorant man. He
fancied that such old and musty books were of no value,
and so he burned them up. By doing this, he destroyed
a very great treasure; for if he had kept those ancient
books, we would know much more about the early Romans
than we do now.
As Numa was so good and wise a king, the people felt
very sorry to lose him; and they said that his death was
mourned even by the water nymph Egeria. The Roman
mothers used to tell their children that this nymph wept so
many tears that the gods, in pity, changed her into a
fountain which still bears her name.
Numa Pompilius had no son to take his place on the
throne, so the senators elected Tullus Hostilius, a patrician, as the third king of Rome. Unlike the former
king, the new ruler was proud and quarrelsome; and, as he
enjoyed fighting, the Romans were soon called to war.
 Tullus first quarreled with his neighbors in Alba, the
city where Amulius and Numitor had once reigned.
Neither people was willing to yield to the other, and yet
each disliked to begin the bloodshed; for they saw that
they were about equally matched, and that their fighting
would end only with their lives. As they could not wait
forever, the two parties finally decided to settle
their quarrel by a fair fight between three picked
warriors on either side.
The Albans selected as their champions three brothers
named Curiatius, all noted for their strength, their
courage, and their great skill in handling arms. The
Romans made an equally careful choice, and selected three
brothers from the Horatius family. These six men are
called the Curiatii and the Horatii, because these are the plural forms of their names in Latin,
which was the language of both Rome and Alba.
Now, in the peaceful days of Numa Pompilius, long before
there had been any thought of war, the Romans and Albans
had often visited each other, and the Horatii and
Curiatii were great friends. Indeed, the two families were
so intimate that one of the Curiatii was engaged to
marry Camilla, the sister of the Horatii.
In spite of this long-standing friendship, both families
would have considered it a disgrace not to fight, when
selected as their country's champions; and in spite of
Camilla's tears and entreaties, all six young men prepared
for the coming contest.
Poor Camilla was in despair, for either her brothers would
kill her lover, or he would kill them. No matter which
way the battle ended, it could not fail to bring
sor-  row and loss to her, for she was deeply attached
to her brothers and lover; and she tried again and again
to make them give up this fight.
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