|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 |
AS Rome had been partly destroyed, Nero now began to
rebuild it with great magnificence. He also built a
palace for his own use, which was known as the Golden
Palace, because it glittered without and within with
this precious metal.
Nero was guilty of many follies, such as worshiping a
favorite monkey, fishing with a golden net, and
spending large sums in gifts to undeserving courtiers;
and he is said never to have worn the same garment
Of course so cruel and capricious a ruler as Nero could
not be loved, and you will not be surprised to hear
that many Romans found his rule unbearable, and formed
a conspiracy to kill him. A woman named Epicharis took part in the plot; but one of the men whom she
asked to help her proved to be a traitor.
Instead of keeping the secret, this man hastened to
Nero and told him that Epicharis knew the names of all
the conspirators. So the emperor had her seized and
cruelly tortured, but she refused to speak a word,
although she suffered untold agonies. Then, fearing
that she would
 betray her friends when too long suffering had
exhausted her courage, Epicharis strangled herself with
her own girdle.
As Nero could not discover the names of the
conspirators, he condemned all the Romans whom he
suspected of having been in the secret, and forced them
to kill themselves. Even his tutor Seneca obeyed when
ordered to open his veins in a warm bath; and he died
while dictating some of his thoughts to his secretary.
The poet Lucan died in the same way, and as long as
his strength lasted he recited some of his own fine
poetry. We are told that the wife of one victim of
Nero's anger tried to die with her husband, but that
Nero forbade her doing so, had her wounds bound up, and
forced her to live.
Nero was so brutal that he killed his own wife Poppæa
by kicking her, and so inconsistent that he had her
buried with great pomp, built temples in her honor, and
forced the Romans to worship her.
As Nero's crimes were daily increasing in number, a new
conspiracy was soon formed against him. This time, his
soldiers revolted. The legions in Spain elected their
general, Galba, as emperor, and marched toward Rome to
rid the world of the tyrant Nero.
The emperor was feasting when the news of Galba's
approach reached him. He was so frightened that he
fled in haste, carrying with him a little box which
contained some of Locusta's poisonous drugs. He rushed
from door to door, seeking an asylum, which was
everywhere denied him; but finally one of his freedmen
led him to a miserable little hut, where he was soon
followed by his pursuers.
 When Nero heard his enemies coming, he realized that he
could not escape death, and sadly exclaimed: "What a
pity that such a fine musician should perish!" Then he
made a vain attempt to cut his own throat, and, had not
his freedman helped him, he would have fallen alive
into Galba's hands.
Nero was only a little over thirty when he died; and he
had reigned about fourteen years. He was the last
Roman emperor who was related to Augustus, the wise
ruler who had done so much to further the prosperity of
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