|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 ships in olden times were very different from many of
those which you see now. They were not made to go by
steam, but only by sails or by oars. As sails were
useless unless the wind happened to blow in a
favorable direction, the people preferred to use oars,
as a rule.
Even large ships were rowed from one place to another
by well-trained slaves, who sat on benches along either
side of the vessel, and plied their oars slow or fast
according to the orders of the rowing master. These
ves-  sels with many rowers were called galleys. When the men
sat on three tiers of benches, handling oars of
different lengths, the boat they manned was known as a
There were other boats, with five, ten, or even
twenty-four banks of oars; but for war the most useful
were the triremes, or three-banked ships, and the
quinqueremes, or those with five tiers of rowers. For
battle, the ships were provided with metal points or
beaks, and a vessel thus armed was rowed full force
against the side of an enemy's ship to cut it in two.
Of all the people settled on the shores of the
Mediterranean Sea, the Carthaginians were now the best
sailors. They dwelt at Carthage, in Africa, and, as
their city was all the land they owned there at first,
they soon turned all their energies to trading.
The Carthaginians thus amassed great wealth, and their
city, which was near the present Tunis, and was twenty-three
miles around, was one of the finest in the world.
In the course of their journeys, the Carthaginian
sailors often visited Sicily, one of the most fertile
countries in the world. Little by little they began to
establish trading places there, and daily gained ground
in the island. The Romans saw the advance of the
Carthaginians with great displeasure; for it is but a
step from Sicily to the Italian mainland, and they did
not want so powerful a people for their neighbors.
The city of Syracuse was at this time the largest and
strongest on the island, although the Carthaginians had
waged many wars against it. There was also another
city that was independent, which was occupied by a
band of soldiers called Mamertines. A quarrel
 two cities led to war, and the Mamertines were so
badly defeated that they asked the Romans for help.
When Hiero, the King of Syracuse, heard that Rome was
planning to help his enemies, he sought aid from
Carthage, and began to get ready for the coming war.
The Romans, however, boldly crossed over into Sicily,
and won such great victories that Hiero soon made peace
them, and he remained friendly to Rome as long as he
The Carthaginians were thus left to carry on the war
without the help of Syracuse. Now while the Roman
legions were noted for their bravery on land, the
Romans soon realized that Carthage would have the
advantage, because it had so many ships.
A navy was needed to carry on the war with any hopes of
success, and as the Romans had no vessels of war, they
began right away to build some. A Carthaginian
quinquereme, wrecked on their shores, was used as a
model. While the shipbuilders were making the one
twenty galleys which were to compose the fleet, the
future captains trained their crews of rowers by daily
exercise on shore.
Such was the energy of the Romans that in the short
space of two months the fleet was ready. As the Romans
were more experienced in hand-to-hand fighting than any
other mode of warfare, each ship was furnished with
grappling hooks, which would serve to hold the
fast, and would permit the Roman soldiers to board it
and kill the crew.
The fleet was placed under the command of Duilius Nepos, who met the Carthaginian vessels near Mylæ, on
 the coast of Sicily, and defeated them completely. Most
of the enemy's ships were taken or sunk, and, when
Duilius returned to Rome, the senate awarded him the
first naval triumph.
In the procession, the conqueror was followed by his
sailors, bearing the bronze beaks of the Carthaginian
galleys which they had taken. These beaks, called
"rostra," were afterwards placed on a column in the
Forum, near the orators' stand, which was itself known
as the Rostra, because it was already adorned by similar beaks of
Duilius was further honored by an escort of flute
players and torchbearers, who accompanied him home from
every banquet he attended. As no one else could boast
of such an escort, this was considered a great
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