|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 |
CATO DIES RATHER THAN YIELD TO CÆSAR
 CAESAR found that a civil war was raging in Egypt, between the
followers of the boy king and his sister Cleopatra. So
the Roman general sent for the brother and sister, and
said that he would settle their dispute.
Cleopatra was beautiful and charming, and this may have
helped Cæsar to decide that she should reign along
with her brother, Ptolemy.
The brother and sister might have been content with
this arrangement, but the king's minister was
dissatisfied, and he persuaded the army to side with
him, and to besiege Cæsar in Alexandria.
But Cæsar had not enough troops to defend the city, so
he sent to Asia for reinforcements. While he awaited
them he withdrew from Alexandria to Pharos, which was
quite close to the city, and connected with it by a
King Ptolemy, who was with Cæsar, begged one day to be
allowed to go to Alexandria, where Cleopatra's sister
had now been established as queen.
Cæsar granted the boy's request, and he went off
gleefully as if for a holiday. But he did not go to
the city. Instead he joined the army which was
fighting against Cæsar, and tried his boyish best to
prevent provisions reaching the Romans by sea.
But in March 47 B.C., the reinforcements for which
Cæsar had sent arrived in Egypt.
Ptolemy did not
hesitate to march with his troops against this new army
before it had joined Cæsar,
where-  upon the Roman general hurried swiftly after him. He
speedily took Ptolemy's camp, and the young king was
forced to flee. In his attempt to escape from the
enemy he was drowned.
Soon after this Cleopatra's sister abdicated, and
Cleopatra became queen.
Cæsar's troubles in Egypt were now over and he was
able to return to Rome, where he had already been
appointed Dictator for a year, and Consul for five
But although the Dictator's presence was needed in
Rome, he could only stay three months in the city, for
he was still more needed in Africa. For the leaders of
the Pompeian Party had gathered together a new army and
were ready to war against Cæsar.
After Julia's death, Pompey had married again, and his
father-in-law, Scipio, was at the head of the army.
Pompey's two sons too, Gnæus and Sextus, were eager to
avenge their father's death. Cato was in possession of
Utica. It was a formidable army, and Cæsar had not as
large a number of men as the Pompeians. Moreover, he
was hampered by having his supplies intercepted by the
fleet of his enemy.
Until reinforcements arrived, Cæsar therefore
contented himself with taking towns that did not make
any serious defence. But in January 46 B.C. his army
was reinforced, and he was eager to draw Scipio into
One day, early in February, Cæsar began to march
toward the town of Thapsus, meaning to attack it.
Scipio followed him, and soon found himself in such a
position that he was forced to fight.
The battle was fierce, but Cæsar in the end defeated
Scipio with great loss. Leaving an officer to carry
out the assault he had planned upon Thapsus, Cæsar
himself then marched towards Utica, which town was held
Now Cato might be a philosopher, and indeed such he
was, but he had not the qualities of a soldier.
No sooner did he hear that Cæsar was on his way to
 Utica, than he decided that any attempt to hold the
town would be useless, and he made none.
But the philosopher was not afraid of death, and he
determined to die rather than to yield to the
conqueror. So he withdrew quietly to his own room and
threw himself upon his sword. His friends, hearing him
fall, rushed to his aid; as the wound was not fatal,
it was dressed and bandaged.
No sooner was Cato again alone, than he dragged off the
bandages and let himself bleed to death.
Gnæus and Sextus Pompeius had gone to Spain, and
Scipio escaped to a ship and sailed away, hoping to
join the lads.
But Cæsar sent a vessel in pursuit of the defeated
general, and Scipio, seeing that he must be captured,
threw himself overboard and was drowned.
Numidia was now made a Roman province, and Cæsar's
work in Africa was ended. He returned to Rome in July
46 B.C. as ruler of the great Roman Empire.
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