| 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 |
MUCIUS THE LEFT-HANDED
 BUT Porsena still remained with his army on the other side
of the river. He thought that by preventing food from being
sent into the city he could force the inhabitants to
surrender. So he got ships and stationed them on the Tiber
to drive away or seize any vessels that should attempt to
come to Rome with food.
Now there was in Rome at this time a very brave young man
named Caius Mucius, and he thought of a plan to save the
city. His plan was to march boldly into the enemy's camp
and kill King Porsena. So he concealed a sword under his
tunic and went across the river to the Etruscan camp. Then
he made his way to the place where the king was sitting.
happened that it was pay day in the army and the soldiers
were getting their money. A secretary, who sat beside the
king and was dressed very much like him, was talking to the
men and giving them orders. Mucius mistook the secretary
for Porsena and rushed forward and stabbed him to death.
 Instantly the daring Roman was seized by the guards. He
heard the soldiers crying out that the secretary was killed.
Then he knew what a mistake he had made.
Porsena was greatly enraged at seeing his secretary killed,
and in a loud and angry voice he commanded Mucius to tell
who he was and why he had committed such a deed. Without
showing any sign of fear the bold Mucius answered:
"I am a Roman citizen. I came here to kill you, because you
are an enemy of my country. I have failed, but there are
others to come after me who will not fail. Your life will
be constantly in danger, and you will be killed when you
least expect it."
On hearing these words Porsena jumped from his seat in a
great fury and threatened to burn Mucius to death if he did
not at once tell all about the others who were coming to
kill him. But Mucius was not frightened, and to show how
little he cared about the king's threat he thrust his right
hand into the flame of a fire which had been lighted close
by and held it there without flinching. At the same time he
cried out to the king:
"Behold how little we Romans care for pain when it is to
defend our country."
Porsena was astonished at this sight, and he so much admired
the courage and patriotism of the
 Roman that he ordered the
guards to set him free. Then Mucius said to the king:
"In return for your kindness I now tell you of my own free
will what I would not tell you when you threatened me with
punishment. Know then that three hundred Roman youths have
bound themselves by oath to kill you, each to make the
attempt in his turn. The lot fell first on me. I have
failed, but the attempt will be made again and again until
some one succeeds."
MUCIUS THRUSTS HIS HAND INTO THE FIRE
King Porsena was so terrified on hearing this that he
resolved to make peace at once with Rome. So he immediately
sent messengers to the Senate, and terms of peace were
quickly agreed upon.
The Senate rewarded Mucius by giving him a tract of land on
the banks of the Tiber. This land was afterwards called the
Mucian Meadows. Mucius himself got the name of Scævola, a Latin word which means left-handed. He had lost the use of
his right hand by burning it in the fire.
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