| Famous Men of Rome|
|by John H. Haaren|
|Attractive biographical sketches of twenty-eight of the most prominent characters in the history of ancient Rome, from its founding to its fall. Includes most of the best known characters from the kingdom and republic of Rome, as well as the most prominent personages from the imperial age. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. Ages 9-12 |
 TARQUIN the Proud had a nephew named Junius Brutus. He
seemed to be a simpleton, but he was really a very wise man.
His brother had been murdered by the king, and he feared the
same fate himself, so he pretended to be half-witted and
went about saying and doing silly things. Tarquin
therefore did him no harm, but rather pitied him.
Two sons of Tarquin once went to a noted fortune-teller,
taking Brutus with them. The young men asked several
questions. One was:
"Who shall rule Rome after Tarquin?"
The fortune-teller gave this answer:
"Young men, whichever of you shall first kiss your mother
shall be the next ruler of Rome."
The king's sons at once started for home, each eager to be
the first to kiss his mother. But Brutus thought that
something else was really meant by the answer. So after
they had left the fortune-teller he managed to stumble and
fall on his face.
 Then he kissed the ground, saying, "The
earth is the true mother of us all." And as we shall see,
Brutus became the next ruler of Rome.
THE eldest son of Tarquin was named Sextus. He was a very
bad man. He deeply injured a beautiful woman named
Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus, his cousin.
Lucretia told her husband and father and Junius Brutus of
what Sextus had done and called upon them to punish him for
his wicked deed. Then she plunged a dagger into her breast
and fell dead. Brutus drew the dagger from her bleeding
body and, holding it up before his horrified companions,
"I vow before the gods to avenge the wronged Lucretia. Not
one of the Tarquins shall ever again be king in Rome. Rome
shall have no more kings."
THE DEATH OF LUCRETIA
They all vowed with Brutus that Lucretia should be avenged
and that there should be no more kings in Rome. Then they
took up her body and carried it to the Forum. There they
showed it to the people, who gathered around in horror at
the sight. Brutus no longer appeared dull and simple, but
stood with head erect and flashing eyes and spoke to the
crowd in eloquent, stirring words.
"See what has come from the evil deeds of the
he shouted, pointing to the dead woman. "Let us free
ourselves from the rule of these wicked men. Down with
Tarquin the tyrant! No more kings in Rome!"
The people were much excited by his speech, and they made
the Forum ring with their cries:
"Down with Tarquin! Down with Tarquin! No more kings! No
Then they resolved to take the power of king away from
Tarquin and to banish him and his family from Rome. They
also decided to adopt the good laws which had been made
years before by King Servius Tullius, and to choose two men
each year to govern the nation, instead of a king. The men
were to be called consuls and were to rule in turn—one for
one month, the other for the next, and so on for twelve
months. At the end of the year two new consuls were to be
Meanwhile news of the revolt reached King Tarquin, who was
at the time in camp with his army some distance from Rome.
He instantly mounted his horse and rode in haste to the
city. When he reached the gates he found them shut against
him. As he stood impatiently demanding to be admitted, a
Roman officer appeared on the wall and told him of the
sentence of banishment. Tarquin rode away, and Rome was rid
of him forever (510 B.C.).
 THE people elected Junius Brutus and Lucius Collatinus, the
husband of Lucretia, to be their first consuls; but after a
short time Collatinus resigned, because he was himself a
Tarquin. Publius Valerius was elected in his stead.
Tarquin now sent messengers for his household goods and
other things belonging to him which were in Rome. The
messengers while in the city had secret meetings with a
number of young men of noble families, and a plot was formed
to restore Tarquin to the throne.
The young nobles vowed that they would destroy the new
republic and bring back the king, for they did not like
government by the common people. But while they were making
their plans an intelligent slave overheard what they were
saying. This slave went to Brutus and told him of the plot.
All engaged in it were at once arrested and put in prison.
Two sons of Brutus himself, Titus and Tiberius, were
found among the plotters.
When Brutus learned that his own children were traitors he
was overcome with sorrow. For several days he shut himself
up in his house and would see no one. But when the day for
the trial came he did his duty sternly as judge—the consuls
 judges as well as rulers. Titus and Tiberius were
proved guilty of treason, together with the others, and
Brutus sentenced them to be whipped with rods and then
beheaded. He even was a witness of the execution of the
sentence, and we are told that he sat unmoved in his chair
and did not turn away his eyes while his two sons were put
to death. It was his duty to punish traitors, and he did
his duty without sparing his own flesh and blood.
BRUTUS CONDEMNING HIS SONS TO DEATH
 After the loss of his sons Brutus became dull and melancholy
and appeared to care very little for life. Tarquin made an
attempt to take Rome, with the aid of the people of two
cities of Etruria, and Brutus led the Romans to the field to
fight against their former king. During the first part of
the battle, a son of Tarquin rode furiously at Brutus to
kill him. Brutus saw him and advanced rapidly on his horse
to meet the attack. When they came together each ran his
spear through the body of the other, and both were killed.
The death of Brutus maddened the Romans, and they fought
fiercely until dark. Then the armies went to their camps,
and no one knew which side had won. But in the middle of
the night a loud voice came from a wood close by the camp of
the Etruscans, as the people of Etruria were called. The
"One man more has fallen on the side of the Etruscans than
on the side of the Romans; the Romans will conquer in this
The Etruscans believed that this was the voice of the god
Jupiter, and they were so frightened that they broke up
their camp and quickly marched back to their own land.
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