|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 |
JULIUS CÆSAR IS CAPTURED BY THE PIRATES
 JULIUS CAESAR was born in 100 or 101 B.C.,
to one of the most illustrious patrician families of Rome.
From his boyhood, Cæsar was a favourite with the people.
They liked his frank, bright ways, and then he spent money
lavishly, and that was what they thought the young nobles
ought to do.
But they never dreamed that this youth was different
from the other pleasure-loving youths of Rome, that in his
heart he hid great ambitions, and had already, in his own
way, begun to pave the way toward their fulfilment.
That he was fearless and not easily turned away from
his purpose he soon showed. Even of Sulla in his most
powerful day he felt no dread.
When Sulla commanded that all those who were connected
with the party of Marius by marriage should send
their wives away, Cæsar, who was
then only nineteen years
of age, refused to obey.
So Cornelia stayed with her husband
in spite of the danger they both knew they
would incur by
defying one of Sulla's commands.
Cæsar would indeed have lost his life,
had not powerful
friends begged Sulla to be merciful, adding that it was
surely not necessary to put a mere boy to death.
But Sulla was a reader of character, and he believed
that Cæsar was too clever not to be dangerous
to the State.
To those who begged for his life, he said, "You know
little if you do not see more than one
Marius in that boy."
When Cæsar heard what Sulla had said, he escaped to
 the Sabine hills and hid himself, until Rome
a safer city.
Some time after this the young patrician was on his way
to Rhodes to study rhetoric, when he was captured by
pirates. For this was before Pompey had cleared the seas
of the terrible sea robbers.
The pirates did not know how great a prize they had
captured when they took Julius Cæsar
prisoner, and they
demanded merely twenty talents for his ransom.
Cæsar laughed, for he valued himself at
more than that
modest sum, and offered them fifty talents.
He then sent his followers away to raise the money,
while he stayed alone with the pirates,
save for one friend
and two attendants. And this he did, although he knew
that they often put their prisoners to death.
For thirty-eight days he lived with them, sometimes
amusing himself by joining in their sports,
sometimes reading to them poems he had written,
or rehearsing speeches he
To these they would listen, indeed, but without giving
any applause. Then Cæsar would grow angry with them,
calling them names, saying that when he was free he would
At other times, if he wished to sleep and
the pirates were
making a noise, he would send to bid them be quiet.
The pirates laughed at the strange ways and words of
their captive, and paid no heed to his threats.
was in earnest when he was angry, and no sooner was his
ransom paid and he set free, than the first
thing he did was
to hire ships to go in search of these very
He soon found and captured them, and in the end he
crucified them, as he had more than once
threatened to do
when he was their prisoner.
Cæsar then went to Rhodes to study
he profited by his studies, for on his return
to Rome his
eloquence won him fame.
 As for the citizens they still loved him, for he was kind
to them and feasted and spent money as before. But that
he would prove a great soldier, one who would astonish
not only Rome, but the whole world, there was nothing
yet to tell.
Cicero, indeed, as Sulla had done before, saw that Cæsar
was ambitious. Beneath his pleasant smiles and ways,
Cicero sometimes thought that the young patrician had a
hidden purpose, which he would not easily lay aside. At
other times the orator thought that, after all, Cæsar was
a trifler and nothing more. "When I see his hair so
carefully arranged," says this wise man, "and
observe him adjusting it with one finger, I
cannot imagine it should enter
into such a man's thoughts to subvert the Roman State."
But whatever others thought, there was no doubt that
to the people Cæsar had become an idol. And he was
pleased that this should be so, for he liked well to be popular
About the year 67 B.C.,
Cæsar was appointed to superintend the
repairs of the Appian Way. On these repairs
he spent large sums of his own, and the people whispered
to one another that this was done for their welfare, and they
smiled more warmly than ever on the young noble.
But he looked after their pleasures as well as after their
more practical welfare. For he held a show of gladiators in
which six hundred and forty took part, to the delight of the
citizens, while the games he celebrated were more
magnificent than those usually seen in Rome.
The height of his popularity in these early days was
reached, however, when he restored the statues of
and of his triumph over Jugurtha and the Cimbri. These
had been banished from the Capitol during the time that
Sulla ruled the city.
In 63 B.C. Cæsar
determined to put his popularity to the
test. The high priest had died,
and Cæsar wished to succeed
him. It was true that Catulus and another
influ-  ence were known to expect that the appointment would be
given to one of them. But in spite of this Caesar insisted
on letting the people know that he too was a candidate.
Catulus, dreading a contest with one who was so popular,
offered Caesar a large sum of money if he would withdraw.
But Caesar, although he had spent all his money and
was deep in debt, scornfully refused the offer of Catulus.
"I would borrow a larger sum to carry on the contest," he said, with proud defiance.
On the day that the votes were to be taken, his mother
accompanied him to the door of their house, her tears
betraying her anxiety. But he, as he embraced her, said,
"To-day you will see me either high priest or an exile."
The excitement ran high as the different tribes gave
their votes, but it was Cæsar, the idol of the people, who
won the day.
It was what, in his proud confidence he had expected,
but he was pleased, while the people were elated.
But the nobles were exceedingly annoyed. What would
the citizens do next? Would they not be content until
Julius Cæsar reigned supreme in Rome?
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