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The Story of Rome by  Mary Macgregor

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THE KING WHO FOUGHT AND PRAYED

[33] LIKE his grandfather Numa Pompilius, Ancus Marcius loved peace.

His first act after he became king was to restore the service of the gods, which during the last reign had ofttimes been neglected. The sacred laws of Pompilius, too, he ordered to be written on tablets of wood and to be shown to the people.

Now among the enemies of Rome was a tribe named the Latins. The Latins, knowing that King Ancus spent his time in prayer and in offering sacrifices to the gods, began to plunder and destroy the country round about Rome, thinking to go unpunished. But they soon found that the king could fight as well as pray.

No sooner, indeed, had Ancus heard that the Latins were laying waste his dominions, than he commanded the priests to attend to the temple services. Then, placing himself at the head of his army, he marched against the enemy.

The battle was fierce and long, but at length the Latins were beaten and their towns destroyed. His prisoners the king took back with him to Rome, bidding them make their home on the Aventine hill.

Ancus next determined to secure the command of the Tiber and to join the Janiculum hill to Rome by throwing a wooden bridge across the river, which was named the "Bridge of the Wooden Piles," for it was built entirely of wood. The beams were placed loosely, one alongside another, so that, [34] should an enemy approach, it could be quickly taken to pieces.

Ancus loved peace, but he could not yet lay down his arms, for he saw that Rome ought to secure the land that lay between the city and the sea. So he led his army against the tribes to whom this land belonged, and, taking it from them, he built a town at the mouth of the Tiber, which he called Ostia. And here a busy harbour was soon to be seen, from which Roman ships set sail for the open sea.

For twenty-four years this good king reigned, and then, calm and content as his royal grandfather, he died. His name was ever held in honour by his people, for in time of peace he had been just, in time of war victorious.

The children of the king were still young when their father died, so they were left to the care of his friend, Lucius Tarquinius.


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