|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
THE ROMAN LEGIONS IN AFRICA
 THE Roman soldiers did not wish to sail to a strange land.
Their dislike to the voyage grew as they listened to
bewildering tales of these unknown regions.
So they began to grumble, saying that the heat would
overpower them, that they would be lost in the great
forests of which they had been told, and that huge and
poisonous serpents would certainly strangle them. Even
one of the tribunes was disloyal, and encouraged the
soldiers to complain.
But Regulus paid no heed to the distress of the
soldiers, and the fleet sailed on, until it reached the
coast of Africa.
The soldiers disembarked, and in a short time they
found how foolish had been their fears. Instead of
being lost in dark and fearful forests, they found
themselves in a country that was beautiful and glad as
Figs, larger than the Romans had ever seen, grew in
abundance; harvests, more plentiful than they had
deemed possible, waved golden in the fields. Houses,
surrounded by vineyards, oliveyards and rich pasture
land, roused the envy as well as the delight of the
Over this beautiful country the Roman army was soon
scattered to plunder and to destroy. Houses were
burned, fields were trampled down, cattle was stolen,
and it is said that 20,000 persons, many of whom had
lived in comfort all their lives, were now captured and
sold as slaves.
And while their land was destroyed and their people
 were taken prisoners, the Punic army kept to the hills,
and left the enemy unmolested.
Then the Romans, knowing that on such steep ground
neither cavalry nor elephants would be of much use to
the enemy, attacked the Carthaginian army and defeated
After this victory, Manilus, with one army, was
recalled to Rome.
Regulus continued to ravage the country unchecked, for
the Carthaginians, after their defeat, were unable to
hinder his onslaughts. The Consul indeed is said to
have boasted that he had taken and plundered more than
three hundred walled villages.
To add to the misery of the people, the wild tribes of
the desert also began to attack the defenceless village
folk, and to rob their homesteads.
Then, from far and near, the wretched inhabitants
flocked into Carthage for shelter and protection, until
the city was so full that there was scarcely enough
bread to feed the hungry multitude.
The Senate of Carthage sent, in despair, to Regulus, to
beg for peace.
But the Consul received the ambassadors with scant
courtesy, while the terms he offered were intolerable.
Among other things, he demanded that the Carthaginians
should make neither alliance nor war, unless by the
permission of Rome, that they should never send more
than one ship of war to sea for their own ends, while
if Rome demanded help they must be ready to provide her
with a fleet of fifty vessels. The Consul also said
that they must agree to pay, not only the expenses of
the war that was going on, but a yearly tribute to Rome
When the ambassadors protested that it would be
impossible for Carthage to accept such degrading terms,
Regulus drove them from his camp, rudely saying, "Men
who are good for anything, should either conquer or
submit to their betters."
 The Senate, with one voice, agreed that the terms
offered by the Consul deserved no consideration.
It was plain that Regulus would not help them, and so
the people, in their despair, turned to their gods.
Lest the city of Carthage itself should fall into the
hands of the enemy, they must be appeased with
In the temple, one of the gods stood with arms
outstretched, while at his feet a furnace flamed. Into
the cold and lifeless arms little children of noble
rank were laid. But the god was unable to hold the
treasures given into his keeping, and they rolled out
of his arms and fell into the furnace below. By such
terrible sacrifices the Carthaginians strove to appease
After the sacrifices had been offered the Senate
determined to send for hired soldiers to Greece, that
the army might be strengthened. Among those who came
to fight for the Carthaginians was a Spartan officer,
As he belonged to Sparta, Xanthippus, like all the
youths of his land, had been trained from the age of
seven to endure hardships, and to suffer pain without a
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