|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 INVENTOR ARCHIMEDES
 HIERO, King of Syracuse, died shortly after the battle
of Cannæ. He had helped the Romans much, but his
successors soon made an alliance with the
Carthaginians, and declared war against Rome.
The Romans, however, had taken new courage from the
welcome news that Hannibal had decided upon going to
Capua, instead of marching straight on to Rome. As
soon as some of the new troops could be spared,
therefore, they were sent over to Sicily, under the
command of Marcellus, with orders to besiege
Syracuse. This was a very great undertaking, for the
city was strongly
fortified, and within its walls was Archimedes, one of the most famous mathematicians and inventors that
have ever been known.
He had discovered that even the heaviest weights could
be handled with ease by means of pulleys and levers;
and he is said to have exclaimed: "Give me a long
enough lever and a spot whereon to rest it, and I will
lift the world."
Archimedes made use of his great talents to invent all
sorts of war engines. He taught the Syracusans how to fashion stone catapults of great power, and large
grappling hooks which swung over the sea, caught the
enemy's vessels, and overturned them in the water. He
is also said to have devised a very clever arrangement
of mirrors and burning glasses, by means of which he
set fire to the Roman ships. To prevent the Syracusan
ships from sinking when they had water in their holds,
 he invented a water screw which could be used for a
Thanks to the skill of Archimedes, the Syracusans
managed to hold out very long; but finally the Romans
forced their way into the town. They were so angry with
the people for holding out so long that they plundered
the whole city, and killed many of the inhabitants.
A Roman soldier rushed into the house where Archimedes
was sitting, so absorbed in his calculations that he
was not even aware that the city had been taken. The
soldier, not knowing who this student was, killed
Archimedes as he was sitting in front of a table loaded
Marcellus, the Roman general, had given orders that the
inventor should be spared, and was very sorry to hear
that he was dead. To do Archimedes honor, he ordered a
fine funeral, which was attended by Romans and
In the mean while, Hannibal was beginning to lose
ground in Italy; and the Carthaginians who were left
in Spain had been obliged to fight many battles. Their
leader was Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, while
the Romans were commanded by the two Scipios.
These two generals were at last both unlucky; but their
successor, another Scipio, defeated the Carthaginians
so many times that the whole country became at last a
Roman province. Escaping from Spain, Hasdrubal
prepared to follow the road his brother had taken, so
as to join him in southern Italy.
He never reached Hannibal, however; for after crossing
the Alps he was attacked and slain, with all his army.
The Romans who won this great victory then hastened
 south and threw Hasdrubal's head into his brother's
camp; and this was the first news that Hannibal had of
the great disaster.
All the luck in the beginning of this war had been on
the side of the Carthaginians. But fortune had now
forsaken them completely; and Hannibal, after meeting
with another defeat, went back with his army to
Carthage, because he heard that Scipio had come from
Spain to besiege the city.
The country to the west of Carthage, called Numidia, was at this time mostly divided between two rival
kings. One of them, Masinissa, sent his soldiers to
help Scipio as soon as he crossed over to Africa, and
the Romans could not but admire the fine horsemanship
of these men. They were the ancestors of the Berbers, who live in the same region to-day and are still fine
Syphax, the rival of Masinissa, joined the
Carthaginians, who promised to make him king of all
Numidia if they succeeded in winning the victory over
their enemies. With their help he fought three great
battles against the Romans, but in each one he was
badly defeated, and in the last he was made prisoner.
After Hannibal came, he soon met the invaders near
Zama, and a great battle was fought, in which Scipio
and Masinissa gained the victory. In their despair,
the Carthaginians proposed to make peace. The Romans
consented, and the Second Punic War ended, after it
about seventeen years.
On his return to Rome, Scipio was honored by receiving
the surname of Africanus, and by a grand triumph, in
which Syphax followed his car, chained like a slave.
 although the Romans cheered Scipio wildly, and lavished
praises upon him, they soon accused him of having
wrongfully taken possession of some of the gold he had
won during his campaigns.
This base accusation was brought soon after Scipio had
helped to win some great victories in Asia, of which
you will soon hear; and it made him so angry that he
left Rome forever. He withdrew to his country house in
Campania, a part of Italy to the southeast of Rome.
Here he remained as long as he lived; and when he died
he left orders that his bones should not rest in a
city which had proved so ungrateful as Rome.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics