|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 |
AN EMPEROR'S PENANCE
THEODOSIUS was, as we have seen, an excellent emperor,
and we are told that there is but one stain on his
memory,—the massacre at Thessalonica.
The people of that city once revolted, because the
soldiers had arrested one of their favorite chariot
drivers, who had failed to obey the laws. In his rage
at hearing of this revolt, Theodosius commanded that
all the inhabitants of Thessalonica should be killed.
Men, women, and children were accordingly butchered
without mercy; but when the deed was done, the emperor
repented sorely of his cruelty.
He then went to St. Ambrose, a priest who had vainly
tried to disarm his anger. Humbly begging pardon for
his cruelty, he asked permission to come into the
Church once more. St. Ambrose, however, would not
grant him forgiveness until Theodosius had done public
penance for his sin.
Thus, you see, when the Christian emperors did wrong,
they were publicly reproved by the priests, whose duty
it was to teach men to do good and to love one another.
Both sons of Theodosius were mere boys when they were
called by their father's death to take possession of
 the empires of the East and of the West. For a while,
however, the barbarians dared not invade Roman
territory, for they had not yet forgotten how they had
been conquered by Theodosius.
The empire of the West in time became the weaker and
the smaller of the two; for the Caledonians in
Britain, the Germans along the Rhine, the Goths and
Huns along the Danube, and the Moors in Africa were
little by little invading its territory and taking
possession of its most exposed cities.
As the two princes were themselves too young to govern,
the power was wielded by their guardians, Stilicho and Rufinus, who quarreled and finally fought against
each other. The national jealousy which had always
existed between the Greeks and the Latins was increased
by these quarrels between the two ministers; and it did
not come to an end even when Rufinus was caught in an
ambush and slain.
When the Goths saw that the empires of the East and the
West were too busy quarreling with each other to pay
any attention to them, they suddenly marched into
Greece under Alaric.
The Greeks, in terror, implored Stilicho to hasten to
their rescue. He came, and won a victory over the
Goths; but, instead of following up his advantage, he
soon returned to Italy. The Goths, seeing this, soon
followed him thither, and laid siege to Milan.
Stilicho raised an army as quickly as possible, and
defeated the Goths on the same field where Marius had
once conquered the Cimbri. But the Goths, although
defeated, secured favorable terms before they withdrew.
 Honorius, the emperor of the West, had been very badly
frightened by the appearance of the Goths in Italy. In
his terror, he changed his residence to the city of
Ravenna, where he fancied that he could better defend
himself if they attacked him.
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