|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 FIRST SETTLERS
 YOU are now going to hear about the building of Rome,
the capital of Italy, in Europe. By looking at your
maps, you will soon find in Europe a peninsula, shaped
somewhat like a boot, and surrounded on three sides by
the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. This
peninsula is Italy. To the north are the snow-topped
Alps, a chain of high mountains which separate this
country from the rest of Europe; and through the
peninsula run the Apennines, a less lofty mountain
As Italy is in the southern part of Europe, it has a
very mild and delightful climate. The tall mountains
in the north prevent the cold winds from sweeping down
upon it, and many plants which you see here in
hothouses grow there in the open ground.
Orange and almond trees, camellias and pomegranates,
are all covered with fruit or flowers, and the vine and
olive both yield rich harvests in this beautiful land.
The soil is so rich that people do not need to work
very hard in order to have fine crops, and, as the
gener-  ally clear, they can live out of doors
almost all the year round.
As the climate is so pleasant, the land so fertile, the
skies so blue, and the views so beautiful, travelers
have always liked to visit Italy, and have spoken about
its charms to all they met. It is no wonder,
therefore, that many people have gone to settle there,
and you will easily understand that the whole country
was occupied long, long ago.
So many years ago that no one can really tell when it
was, Italy was already inhabited by a people who,
judging from what we have heard of them, must once have
lived in Central Asia. These people were probably
crowded at home, and left their native land in search
of good pasture for their cattle, and a fertile country
where they might dwell.
They traveled on and on, day after day, and coming
finally to the great mountains, some of them climbed up
to see what was on the other side. When they beheld
the green valleys of Italy, and saw how beautiful the
country was, they told their companions, and all made
haste to cross the mountains.
These people traveled on foot, with their families,
cattle, and all their household goods; and they were
very rude and uncivilized. Little by little, however,
they learned to build houses, to cook their food, to
make rude pottery from the clay they found in the
valleys, to spin and weave the wool from their sheep,
and to fashion this homemade stuff into garments.
Although each family at first lived by itself, they
soon discovered that if several families joined
 could cultivate the ground better, could
hunt more successfully, and that in time of danger they
could more easily defend themselves.
Thus several families would form a tribe under the
strongest and cleverest man among them, whom they chose
as their leader. These leaders selected the best place
for them to settle in, told them what to do in time of
war, and thus became chiefs or kings over their own
There were a number of such little kingdoms scattered
throughout Italy, and as the people grew richer, wiser,
and more numerous, they occupied more and more land.
Now it was from some of these tribes that the Romans
were mostly descended. Their city became in time the
greatest in the world, and many histories have been
written about it; but none of them were begun until
several centuries after Rome was founded. Hardly any
records had been kept of the distant past, and the best
that could be done was to write down some stories that
had been told by parents to their children, and thus
had been preserved from generation to generation.
These had become much changed by being told so many
times, and they were connected and rounded out by pure
guesswork; but the whole was soon accepted as true, and
was believed in by every one for ages.
You will now read the story from the beginning, as the
Romans themselves told it. Many of the events in the
first part of it never really happened; but no one can
tell exactly where the mere stories leave off, and the
true history begins. And every well-educated person is
expected to know the whole story.
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