|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 ESCAPE FROM THE BURNING CITY
 IN the days when the Greeks were fighting against Troy,—that
great city in Asia Minor which they besieged for
ten years,—the people in Italy were divided into
several small kingdoms, among which were those of the
Etruscans and the Latins.
The Etruscans occupied the northern part of Italy, or
the top of the boot, and called their country
Etruria, while the Latins dwelt farther south, in a
province named Latium. Each of these kingdoms had its
own leader or king, whom all the people obeyed.
Now the King of Latium in those days was Latinus. He had a beautiful daughter called Lavinia, and as soon
as she was old enough to marry, he thought of getting
her a good husband. One night King Latinus dreamed
that the gods of his country came and spoke to him,
telling him to be sure and give his daughter in
marriage to a stranger whom they would send to Latium.
When Latinus awoke, he was very much troubled, because
his wife was anxious that Lavinia should marry Turnus, a neighboring king. The queen soon persuaded Latinus
to allow this engagement to take place, but he insisted
that the marriage should be postponed for some time
In the mean while the city of Troy had at last fallen
into the hands of the Greeks. The brave Trojans were
attacked by night, and only a few among them managed to
Among these few, however, there was a prince named
 Æneas. His father was Anchises, the cousin of the
King of Troy, and his mother was Venus, the goddess of
beauty. As Venus did not want her son to die with the
rest of the Trojans, she appeared to him during the
fatal night when the Greeks had secretly entered Troy,
and were plundering and burning the houses. She showed
him that resistance would be useless, and bade him flee
from the city, with all his family.
Æneas had been taught to obey every word the gods
said; so he at once stopped fighting, and hurried back
to his house. Then he lifted his poor old father up on
his back, took his little son Iulus by the hand, and
called to his wife and servants to follow him.
This strange group of fugitives quickly passed out of
the city, where the flames were now rising on all
sides, and, under cover of the darkness, made their way
to a temple near by. Here they paused to rest, and
Æneas counted his followers to make sure that they
were all there.
Imagine his sorrow when he found that his beloved wife
was missing! He rushed back into the burning city, and
searched everywhere for her, calling her name aloud, in
spite of the danger. At last he met some one who told
him that his wife had been killed, and that she wished
him to escape to a better country, where he should
found a new kingdom, and where a new wife should take
her place, and make him happy once more.
Æneas sorrowfully turned back, and at the temple found
that his followers had been joined by others who had
managed to escape unseen amid the smoke and darkness.
He led the way to a place of safety, and not long
 set sail with his little band of faithful Trojans, who
all promised to obey and follow him wherever he went.
The ships drifted aimlessly for a long time, because
Æneas had no idea where he was to found his new
kingdom. Twice he tried to settle down, but each time
something happened to drive him away. Finally he asked
the advice of his father, Anchises, a wise and pious
old man, who had snatched up his gods when he left his
house, and had brought them with him on the ship.
The old man now said that he would consult these
images, and he offered them a sacrifice. The next
night Æneas dreamed that the gods spoke to him and
told him that he should go to Italy, a land whence one
of his ancestors had come to Troy.
The little band therefore sailed for the west, although
it was foretold that they would have to suffer many
hardships ere they could reach Italy, and that they
would not be able to settle until they had eaten the
very boards upon which their food was served.
As Æneas was a brave man, the prospect of a terrible
famine did not fill his heart with despair, and he
calmly sailed on in search of a home. There are almost
countless islands in that part of the Mediterranean,
and thus the boats were seldom out of sight of land.
They stopped from time to time, but Æneas did not dare
to settle anywhere, because he thought the gods opposed
it; and he always urged his people to embark again and
The Trojans were by this time very tired of sailing,
but they loved Æneas so well that they gladly followed
him, although they would have liked to make their homes
in the islands they visited.
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