|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 FOUNDING OF ROME
 IT was in the year 753 B.C. that Romulus
was chosen king. He at once began to make preparations
to build a city on the Palatine hill. The foundation
he wished to lay on the twenty-first of the glad month
of April, for, as Romulus knew, this was a feast-day
among the shepherds.
Often he, with his brother, had joined the herdsmen on
that day, to offer cakes to the goddess Pales, to
beseech her blessing on themselves and on their flocks.
And when the prayers and sacrifices were over, how
gladly he had joined in the shepherds' games and
jollity! No better day could be found on which to lay
the foundation of the new city.
When the feast-day arrived, a hole was first dug on the
spot where the city was to stand.
Into this hole the king flung the first fruits of the
earth, corn and fruit.
Each of his followers then took a handful of earth
which he had carried with him from his own, perhaps
distant, home, and flung it also into the hole, which
was then filled to the top.
Here, too, an altar was built, on which the people laid
offerings to the gods. From henceforth the spot, where
the temple had been erected, was to be the hearth or
centre of the new city.
Romulus then throwing his toga, or as we would say, his
mantle, around him, with one end covering his head,
took a white bull and a cow and yoked them to a sacred
plough, the share of which was made of brass.
With this ploughshare the king then made a furrow to
mark the boundary of the city, bidding his followers
 watch that the upturned earth fell inward to the hearth
of the city. Not a clod must be allowed to lie without
the furrow. When the plough reached the different
spots at which the gates of the city were to stand, it
was carefully lifted over the spaces.
As he guided the plough, Romulus cried to his gods that
his city might become strong and endure, and ever grow
more powerful in the great world.
Out of a clear sky thunder crashed, lightning flashed
over the hills as Romulus uttered his petitions, and
the people believed that the storm was the answer of
the god Jupiter to the prayers of their king.
When these sacred rites were ended, Romulus bade his
men begin at once to build the wall which was to
surround his city.
The wall itself was sacred. None might enter the city,
save by the gates. So the king bade one of his
followers, named Celer, to guard the sacred furrow, and
to see that no one dared to scale the wall or jump
across it, as it was being built.
Remus, who was still angry that he had not been chosen
king, had been standing near to Romulus as he laid the
foundation of the city. Then, as the wall began to
rise before him, a swift rage sprang up in his heart,
and he leaped across it, crying: "Shall such defences
as these guard your city?"
Celer, the watchman, seeing that Remus had scorned the
order of the king, raised his spade in sudden fury and
struck the young prince dead to the ground.
Then, fearing lest Romulus should punish him for his
hasty deed, he fled. Fear lent him wings, and his name
from that day became a byword to betoken great speed.
Our own word, "celerity," comes from Celer, the
swift-footed servant of Romulus.
When Romulus was told that his brother had been slain,
he showed neither grief nor anger. "Thus perish every
one who may attempt to cross these walls," were his
stern words to those who brought the sad tidings.
Celer, it was plain, had fled in needless haste.
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