|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 MYSTERIOUS GATE
 THE fortress on the Capitoline hill was now in the hands of
the Sabines, but they had still to fight with the
Romans who dwelt on the Palatine hill.
Romulus was, indeed, already to be seen leading his men
into the valley that lay between the two mountains.
The battle was long and fierce, and disaster well-nigh
overtook the Sabines.
In the valley was a swamp, and in this swamp the whole
of the enemy's army would have been engulfed, had not
Curtius, one of their most gallant soldiers, warned
them of danger.
He himself had been carried by his horse into the mire.
Nobly he tried to free his steed, but his efforts were
all in vain. The more the animal struggled, the deeper
it sank into the swamp, until at length Curtius was
forced to leave his horse that he might save himself.
This swamp was ever after known as the Curtian Lake.
Hour after hour the battle raged, until at last Romulus
and his followers were driven backward. In their
dismay the Roman army rushed through one of the gates
into their city, hastily shutting it behind them, that
the foe might not also enter.
But lo! so says the legend, the gate would not remain
shut, but opened, as it seemed, of its own accord.
Twice again the terrified Romans tried to close it, and
twice it opened as mysteriously as before.
The Sabines reached the gate as it opened for the last
 In through the open gate pushed the triumphant enemy,
when suddenly a great flood of water gushed forth from
the temple of the god Janus, which stood near to the
Overwhelmed by the force of the water, the Sabines were
swept, not only out of the gate, but far away from the
city, and Rome was saved.
But although the Sabines had been forced to flee, they
had not been conquered. Again and again they marched
against Romulus, for they could not forgive him for the
loss of their daughters.
In one of these battles Romulus was wounded by a stone
and fell to the ground. His followers, seeing that
their king was wounded, lost courage and began to
But the king was soon on his feet, calling to his men
to stand and fight. But it seemed as though they dared
not turn to face the foe.
Then, in his great need the king stretched out his
hands to heaven and besought Jupiter to come to his
aid, promising that he would build a temple to his
name, so only he would stay the flight of his army.
Even as he prayed the answer came. No voice from
heaven commanded them to stand, yet the Romans were
suddenly ashamed of their cowardice and turned once
more to face the foe.
But as the battle was about to begin with redoubled
fury the Sabine women rushed in between the two armies
with loud cries, entreating now their fathers and
brothers, now their husbands to end this cruel
They even begged that they themselves might be slain,
for, "Better it is that we perish," said the women,
"than live as widows and orphans."
In their arms the women carried their little sons, and
these babes stretched out their tiny arms toward their
grandsires, as though they too would beg for peace.
The lamentable cries of their daughters, the sight of
their little grandchildren made the Sabines hesitate,
and soon the
 warriors in either army let their weapons fall to the
ground in mood no longer warlike. "Then fathers and
sons-in-law clasped hands in friendship. The old men
embraced their daughters, and carried their baby
grandsons on their shields. Surely a sweeter way was
that to use the shield."
Peace was then made, and the Romans and Sabines agreed
to become one, while Romulus and Tatius ruled together
over their united people.
Five years later Tatius was killed in a quarrel, and
Romulus again ruled alone.
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