|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 DEATH OF CAESAR
AS soon as Cæsar landed in Egypt, he was offered
Pompey's head. Instead of rejoicing at the sight of
this ghastly token, he burst into tears. Then, taking
advantage of his power, he interfered in the affairs of
Egypt, and gave the throne to Cleopatra, the king's
sister, who was the most beautiful woman of her time.
 This did not please some of the Egyptians, who still
wished to be ruled by Ptolemy. The result was a war
between Ptolemy and the Egyptians on one side, and
Cæsar and Cleopatra on the other.
In the course of this conflict the whole world suffered
a great loss; for the magnificent library at
Alexandria, containing four hundred thousand
manuscript volumes, was accidentally set on fire.
These precious books were written on parchment, or on a
sort of bark called papyrus. They were all burned up,
and thus were lost the records of the work of many
Cæsar was victorious, as usual, and Cleopatra was
made queen of Egypt. The Roman general then left her
and went to fight in Pontus, where a new war had broken
out. Such was the energy which Cæsar showed that
he soon conquered the whole country. The news of his
victory was sent to Rome in three Latin words,
"Veni, vidi, vici," which mean, "I came, I saw,
After a short campaign in Africa, Cæsar returned
to Rome, where he was rewarded by four triumphs such as
had never yet been seen. Not long afterwards, he was
given the title of Imperator, a word which later came
to mean "emperor." In his honor, too, one of the Roman
months was called Julius, from which our name July has
Cæsar made one more remarkable campaign in Spain
before he really settled down at Rome. He now devoted
his clear mind and great energy to making better laws.
He gave grain to the hungry people, granted lands to
the soldiers who had fought so bravely, and became
 under the title of dictator, which he was to retain for
As the people in Rome were always very fond of shows,
Cæsar often amused them by sham battles.
Sometimes, even, he would change the arena into a vast
pool, by turning aside the waters of the Tiber; and
then galleys sailed into the circus, where sham naval
battles were fought under the eyes of the delighted
spectators. He also permitted fights by gladiators;
but, as he was not cruel by nature, he was careful not
to let them grow too fierce.
Cæsar was a very ambitious man, and his dearest
wish was always to be first, even in Rome. Some of his
friends approved greatly of his ambition, and would
 to make him king. But others were anxious to keep the
republic, and feared that he was going to overthrow it.
Among the stanch Roman republicans were Cassius and
Brutus. They were friends of Cæsar, but they did
not like his thirst for power. Indeed, they soon grew
so afraid lest he should accept the crown that they
made a plot to murder him.
In spite of many warnings, Cæsar went to the
senate on the day appointed by Cassius and Brutus for
his death. It is said that he also paid no attention
to the appearance of a comet, which the ancient Romans
thought to be a sign of evil, although, as you know, a
comet is as natural as a star. Cæsar was standing
at the foot of Pompey's statue, calmly reading a
petition which had been handed to him. All at once the
signal was given, and the first blow struck. The great
man first tried to defend himself, but when he saw
Brutus pressing forward, dagger in hand, he sorrowfully
cried: "And you, too, Brutus!" Then he covered his
face with his robe, and soon fell, pierced with
twenty-three mortal wounds.
Death of Cæsar.
Thus Cæsar died, when he was only fifty-five years
of age. He was the greatest general, the best
statesman, and the finest historian of his time and
race. You will find many interesting things to read
about him, and among them is a beautiful play by
In this play the great poet tells us how Cæsar was
warned, and how he went to the senate in spite of the
warnings; and then he describes the heroic death of
Cæsar, who was more grieved by his friends'
treachery than by the ingratitude of the Romans whom he
had served for so many years.
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