THE MAIDENS CARRIED OFF
 AS all the robbers, murderers, and runaway slaves of
the kingdoms near by had come to settle in Rome, there
were soon plenty of men there. Only a few of them,
however, had wives, so women were very scarce indeed.
The Romans, anxious to secure wives, tried to coax the
girls of the neighboring states to marry them; but as
they had the reputation of being fierce and lawless,
their wooing was all in vain.
Romulus knew that the men would soon leave him if they
could not have wives, so he resolved to help them get
by a trick what they could not secure by fair means.
Sending out trumpeters into all the neighboring towns
and villages, he invited the people to come to Rome and
see the games which the Romans were going to celebrate
in honor of one of their gods.
As these games were wrestling and boxing matches, horse
and foot races, and many other tests of strength and
skill, all the people were anxious to see them; so they
came to Rome in crowds, unarmed and in holiday attire.
Whole families came to see the fun, and among the
spectators were many of the young women whom the Romans
wanted for wives.
Romulus waited until the games were well under way.
Then he suddenly gave a signal, and all the young
Romans caught up the girls in their arms and carried
them off to the houses, in spite of their cries and
The fathers, brothers, and lovers of the captive
maidens would gladly have defended them; but they had
 the games unarmed, and could not strike a blow.
As the Romans refused to give up the girls, they rushed
home for their weapons, but when they came back, the
gates of Rome were closed.
While these men were raging outside the city, the
captive maidens had been forced to marry their captors,
who now vowed that no one should rob them of their
newly won wives, and prepared to resist every attack.
Most of the women that had been thus won came from some
Sabine villages; and the Romans had easy work to
conquer all their enemies until they were called upon
to fight the Sabines. The war with them lasted a long
time, for neither side was much stronger than the
At last, in the third year, the Sabines secured an
entrance to the citadel by bribing Tarpeia, the daughter of the gate keeper. This girl was so vain,
and so fond of ornaments, that she would have done
anything to get some. She therefore promised to open
the gates, and let the Sabine warriors enter during the
night, if each of them would give her what he wore on
his left arm, meaning a broad armlet of gold.
The Sabines promised to give her all she asked, and
Tarpeia opened the gates. As the warriors filed past
her, she claimed her reward; and each man, scorning her
for her meanness, flung the heavy bronze buckler, which
he also wore on his left arm, straight at her.
Tarpeia sank to the ground at the first blow, and was
crushed to death under the weight of the heavy shields.
She fell at the foot of a steep rock, or cliff, which
has ever since been known as the Tarpeian Rock. From
the top of this cliff, the Romans used to hurl their
 criminals, so that they might be killed by the fall.
In this way many other persons came to die on the spot
where the faithless girl had once stood, when she
offered to sell the city to the enemy for the sake of a