|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 SOCIAL WAR
THE wars abroad were ended, but now Rome was threatened by
a much more serious danger,—wars at home. These
were brought about by the selfishness and ambition of a
few persons, who cared far more for their own advantage
than for the good of their country.
As you know, the Romans were very proud, and always
 thought themselves a little better than any of the
other people in Italy. They had special rights, and
they alone were allowed to vote or to hold office in
the Roman republic; and when the senate granted the
title of Roman citizen to any outsider, it was
considered a very great honor indeed.
As the Italian states were now part of the republic,
their inhabitants were anxious to enjoy the rights of
Roman citizens. Marius was in favor of giving these
rights to some of the Italian people, but Sulla was
against it, and said that none but the Roman patricians
ought to have them.
These great men thus became the heads of two parties
which daily grew more powerful and more bitter. But,
while the people fancied that Marius and Sulla were for
or against them, and were quarreling for their benefit,
the real truth was that both leaders were thinking of
the best way to secure friends for themselves.
Not all the Romans were blind, however, and one named
Metellus openly refused to obey a law which Marius
had persuaded the people to pass, but which was not for
the good of the state. To punish Metellus for daring
to oppose the law, Marius sent him into exile, but he
was soon recalled, and every one honored him greatly
because he had had the courage to do what he felt was
right, even though he brought down upon himself the
anger of so powerful a man as Marius.
By and by the people grew tired of this man's tyranny,
and treated him so badly that he left Rome in anger,
and went to visit Mithridates, a king in Asia Minor.
Here, too, Marius was unwelcome, because his manners
were rough, and he was as insolent as he was selfish.
 rid of this unwelcome visitor, Mithridates gave him
many gifts, and encouraged him to return to Italy.
Back in Rome once more, Marius joined his old party,
and tried to make himself its leader. Meanwhile, the
question of admitting all the Italian states to Roman
citizenship was again brought up and hotly discussed.
The Romans finally decided to keep all their rights to
themselves, and then the Italians took up arms to gain
The war which followed lasted about two years, and is
known as the Social War, because the Italians were
called socii, or allies. The soldiers on each side
hated those on the other so greatly that they showed no
mercy; and we are told that more than three hundred
thousand people perished in this short space of time.
Many rich and prosperous cities were ruined before the
Italian states were granted most of the rights they
claimed, and the war came to an end.
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