| 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 |
 ON the death of Titus his brother Domitian became emperor. He was a very bad
man and took pleasure only in doing cruel and wicked things. It is said
that one of his amusements was catching flies and sticking them with pins.
Once when a visitor called and inquired whether there was any one with the
emperor, the servant answered, "No, not even a fly."
It is not to be supposed that such an emperor could have been liked by the
people. Even his soldiers hated him, and at last they formed a plot against
his life and killed him in his own palace.
Nerva, who had been a favorite of Nero, was the next emperor, but he was an
old man and died after a reign of two years. He was succeeded by his
adopted son Trajan, who became emperor in 98 A.D. and reigned for nineteen
Trajan was a good man and a brave soldier. At the time he became emperor he
was governor of one
 of the Roman territories or provinces in Germany along the banks of the
Rhine, and he resided at Colonia, now called Cologne.
Not long after his return to Rome Trajan was engaged in a war with the King
of Dacia. This was the name of the country lying north of the Danube River.
The greater part of it is now called Hungary. The Dacian king, whose name
was Decebalus, had frequently made raids into neighboring countries which
belonged to Rome, and robbed and killed many of the people. Trajan resolved
to punish Decebalus, and so he set out with a large army and marched into
Dacia. The war continued three years, for the Dacians were brave and
skillful fighters; but at last Decebalus was defeated in a great battle and
he had to come to Trajan and humbly beg for peace. He agreed to be a vassal
of Rome; that is, to hold his kingdom subject to the control of the Roman
 But in less than a year Decebalus again attacked his Roman neighbors, and
Trajan had again to march against him with an army. The Dacians were once
more defeated in a great battle, and Decebalus, after failing in an attempt
to escape, put an end to his own life. Dacia was then made a Roman
During this year Trajan built a remarkable bridge across the Danube. Before
that time bridges were built of wood, but in the bridge over the Danube
Trajan used stone for the piers, which were of great size. The bridge had
twenty-two arches, and its ruins, which are still to be seen, show what a
wonderful work it was.
When Trajan returned to Rome after his victory over Decebalus he had a grand
Triumph, and there were games and shows in his honor which lasted a hundred
and twenty days. It is told that during these celebrations 10,000
gladiators fought in the amphitheatre and 11,000 wild animals were killed in
A marble column was erected in honor of Trajan's victories in Dacia. This
monument is still standing in Rome. It is called Trajan's Column. Many
scenes showing battles and other events in the Dacian war are engraved upon
it from the base to the top.
 TRAJAN also had wars in Asia, and he won many victories. He conquered
Armenia and Mesopotamia and added them to the empire. But he did not live
to return to Rome. He died in a town in Asia Minor, which in honor of him
was afterwards called Trajanopolis.
The Romans were much grieved at the death of Trajan, for he had been a good
emperor and had done much to benefit the people. He built fine
 roads and canals and bridges in Italy and the provinces. He greatly
improved and beautified the Circus Maximus. This was the place in which the
Romans had their horse races and chariot races. It was built in the hollow
between the Palatine and Aventine hills, and it had seats for 250,000
A CHARIOT RACE
Trajan also made a forum in Rome, which was called after his name the Trajan
Forum. In the centre of this forum the Trajan Column was built, and around
it were temples and libraries established by the good emperor. For a long
time after Trajan's death the people of Rome, whenever they got a new
emperor, used to wish that he would be "as great as Augustus and as good as
Some great writers lived in Rome in the time of Trajan. One of them was
Plutarch, who wrote the famous book called
"Plutarch's Lives." This book,
which you will perhaps some day read, contains an account of the lives of
many great men of Greece and Rome. The historian Tacitus, the poet Juvenal,
and Pliny the Younger, already mentioned, also lived in the time of Trajan.
Pliny the Younger was so-called to distinguish him from his uncle, Pliny the
Elder, who lived in the time of Nero and was the author of a celebrated work
on natural history.
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