|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 FLIGHT OF MARIUS
 WHEN Marius fled from Rome, he hastened to Ostia, a seaport
at the mouth of the Tiber. So eager was he to escape
that he sailed without waiting for his son, young
Marius, whom he had sent to procure provisions.
Young Marius, meanwhile, had reached the farm where his
father-in-law lived, and had spent the night there
But when morning dawned a servant rushed into the
house, saying that he had seen soldiers riding in the
direction of the farm. The steward at once ran to his
barn, dragged out a wagon full of beans, and hid young
Marius under them. Then, without any apparent haste,
he yoked his oxen to the wagon and drove off toward the
Before he had driven far he passed the search party,
which, unconscious that it had missed it prey, went on
at a sharp trot toward the farm. In this way Marius
reached the coast safely, and sailed to Africa.
But Marius, the father, was no sooner on board the
ship, in which he had so hurriedly embarked, than
difficulty after difficulty beset him.
Before he had sailed far along the coast of Italy a
violent storm arose and blew the vessel to the shore.
Here Marius and his few followers were forced to land,
and to wander about in a desolate country in search of
food and shelter.
At length they met some herdsmen, but they had neither
roof nor bread which they could share with the
The herdsmen warned them, however, that horsemen were
scouring the country; so, almost fainting with hunger,
 they struggled on, until they came to a wood, and here
they hid themselves for the night.
In the morning, weak as he was, and still famished for
want of food, Marius dragged himself along in the
direction of the sea, for there lay his one hope of
The old soldier still carried with him a brave spirit,
and he believed that he would yet overcome his
misfortunes. He begged his companions not to forsake
him, telling them that he would reward their
faithfulness. Had not the diviners assured him that he
would be Consul a seventh time?
The poor little company struggled on, encouraged, it
may be, by the promises of Marius. They were now only
about two miles from the sea, and not far off the
coast, ships under sail were visible. Surely now they
would soon be safe on board one of these vessels!
But just as their hopes began to rise, the sound of
horses' feet struck upon their ears. The sound grew
nearer and nearer.
In desperate fear the wanderers, feeble as they were,
began to run, and at length actually reached the shore,
and plunging into the water, swam toward the ships.
Marius had to be helped by two of his followers, for he
was too heavy to swim with ease. He was only just safe
on board when a troop of soldiers on horseback reached
the edge of the water.
The soldiers shouted to the crew of the vessel on which
Marius had found refuge, bidding them either to send
the fugitive back to the shore, or to throw him into
With tears streaming down his cheeks Marius implored
the sailors to save him from his enemies.
At length, after thinking now that it would send the
unfortunate man to shore, now that it would sail away
with him, the crew made up its mind to put off to sea.
But even then the troubles of Marius were not ended.
In a very short time the sailors again changed their
minds. They were, after all, afraid to keep the man
 Rome had banned, so, although they had not given him up
to the enemy, they now determined to desert him.
They therefore put in to land near a town called
Minturnæ, and bidding Marius go on shore, they told
him to rest until a more favourable wind arose.
Marius had no suspicion that the sailors intended to
desert him. Perhaps he was too bewildered with the
hardships he had already endured to think of others
that might yet befall him.
But the sailors had no sooner got rid of their
unwelcome guest than they sailed away, leaving Marius
alone. His companions had, it seems, gone on board
When at length Marius realised that the sailors had
played him false, he struggled to his feet and looked
around. The ground was full of bogs and marsh, but he
stumbled on, for shelter he must find. In time he
reached the hut of an old man who worked in the fens.
Marius begged the old man to hide him, and he appeared
willing to do so, for he led the stranger to a secret
place in the fens and covered him with rushes.
Even here, however, Marius was not safe. The horsemen
succeeded in tracing him to the hut, and Marius could
hear their loud voices as they threatened to punish the
old man for concealing an enemy of Rome.
He must escape, and that without delay! So, hastily
stripping off his clothes, Marius plunged deep into the
thick and muddy bog, hoping to find a ditch into which
he might slip and yet baffle his pursuers. But his
hope was vain.
The horsemen had dismounted, and were searching
everywhere for their prey. At last one of them caught
sight of the desperate man, and darting into the bog,
pulled Marius out, covered with mire.
Thus, naked and begrimed, he was carried to the
magistrates of Minturnæ.
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