|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 CLEVER TRICK
 AFTER many days of sailing thus on the blue waters of the
Mediterranean, and after much suffering in the
different islands where they stopped to rest, Æneas
and his companions came at last to the island of
Sicily. This, as you will see on your maps, is a
three-cornered piece of land, near the toe of the boot
formed by the Italian peninsula. While the Trojans
were resting here, poor old Anchises died, and was
buried by his sorrowing son. But as soon as the
funeral rites were ended, Æneas prepared to sail away,
for he knew that this was not the place where he was to
make his new home.
Unfortunately for Æneas, some of the gods whom his
people had so long worshiped had taken a dislike to all
the Trojan race. It was these gods who made him suffer
so much, and one of them now stirred up a terrible
The boats were tossed up and down on the waves, and
driven apart by the fierce winds, and some of them sank
under the water. The other vessels would have been
dashed to pieces, and all the men on board would have
perished, had not a second god interfered in favor of
Æneas, and suddenly stilled the awful storm.
The wind was so high, the darkness so great, and the
lightning flashes so blinding, that Æneas had lost his
bearings. When the storm was over, he sailed for the
nearest land, and came to the coast of what is now
Tunis; but he had no idea where he was. He therefore
bade his companions remain on the ships, while he went
 with only one man,—the faithful Achates, who
always went with him, and was his devoted friend. So
these two men started out and began cautiously to
explore the country where they had landed, trying to
find some one who could tell them where they were.
Before long they met a beautiful woman. This was
Venus, the mother of Æneas, in disguise. She had come
there to tell her son all about the place where he had
landed, and to give him some good advice; but she did
not wish to have him know her at first.
Meeting of Æneas and Venus.
Venus, therefore, began to speak to Æneas as if he
were a stranger, and in answer to his questions said
that he had landed in Africa, near the new city of
Carthage. This town, she said, was ruled by Dido, a beautiful queen, who had also come from the coast of
Asia, but from a spot southeast of the ruined city of
Dido's husband had been murdered by her brother, and
she had fled in the night, upon one of her vessels,
carrying off all her treasures; for she knew that her
brother would soon try to kill her also. Many of her
faithful subjects followed her, swearing that they
would settle wherever she wished, and promising to help
her found a new kingdom of which she should be queen.
When Dido reached the coast of Africa, near the present
city of Tunis, and saw how beautiful the country
seemed, she wished to settle there; but the people
refused to sell her the land on which to build a city.
She tried in vain to persuade them, and finally made up
her mind to secure the land by a clever trick. She
therefore asked the people if they would be willing to
sell her as much land as an oxhide would inclose. The
rude people were quite
 ready to part with a few measures of dirt; so the
bargain was at once made.
Imagine their surprise, however, when Dido had a large
ox skin cut up into very narrow strips, drew these
around a vast tract of land, and claimed it as her own!
As the land had certainly been inclosed by an oxhide,
they could not dispute her right to it, and Dido at
once began to build a beautiful city, about which you
will hear many tales.
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