|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 CITY IS REBUILT
 WHEN the Dictator had cut the Gallic host to pieces, he
returned to Rome. The brave defenders of the Capitol
went out to meet their deliverer, tears of joy
streaming down their gaunt, hungry-looking faces.
Scarcely yet could they believe that they were saved.
But when they saw the vestal virgins returning to their
temple, bearing with them the fire they tended, still
undimmed, and the priests also coming back to the city,
they grew quiet and unafraid, for were not the
ministers of the gods again in their midst?
Before aught else, the sacred places that had been
pulled down must be restored. It was difficult amid
the ruins of the city to find the very spot on which
the temples had stood, but they were rebuilt as nearly
as could be in the places where the people had been
used to see them.
As the touch of the barbarian had made the sites
unholy, they were dedicated anew to the gods, with
solemn rites and sacrifices.
Under the buildings which had been destroyed some
relics were found, as by a miracle unharmed. One of
these was the staff or crook used by Romulus when he
dwelt upon Mount Palatine, a careless shepherd lad,
while another was the Laws of the Twelve Tables.
But the ancient records of the history of the seven
kings were never found, and this is why the story of
the early days of Rome is so full of fancy as well as
When the sacred places were restored, many of the
 citizens felt that they had done all that was needful.
They shrank from the labour of rebuilding the city.
Many of them, too, had houses of their own in Veii,
which they had built while the Gauls were in Rome.
They wished to return to their new homes and found a
Camillus was grieved that the people should wish to
desert Rome, the city of their birth, and he appealed
to them by the things they held most sacred to remain.
Was it not in Rome that their beautiful temples stood?
Was it not here that they had ofttimes heard the sacred
voices of the gods? The people, touched by the words
of Camillus, wavered. At that moment a band of
soldiers halted without the Comitium or place of
Assembly, the centurion calling to his standard-bearer:
"Pitch thy standard here, for this is the best place to
Surely such words were not spoken by chance, thought
the citizens. Surely they were words sent by the gods,
bidding them to stay in Rome.
In this strange way the die was cast, and the people,
throwing aside their indolence, began to build, pulling
down the houses at Veii and bringing the stones to Rome
to complete the rebuilding of the city.
Even with the help of material from Veii, the plebeians
were forced to borrow money from the patricians before
their houses were finished, and their shops and farms
As in earlier days, the patricians showed no mercy to
their debtors, and when they could not pay, threw them
into prison or sold them as bondsmen.
Now Manlius, who had saved the Capitol from the Gauls,
was a rich man, and the troubles of the poor folk made
One day he saw a famous centurion, who had fought by
his side in many a battle, being dragged from the Forum
to prison, because he was unable at once to pay some
haughty patrician what he owed.
 Manlius could not look on at such cruelty and do
nothing. He hastened to the spot, paid his old
comrade's debt, and set him free. This was only one of
the kindnesses by which he won from the grateful people
the title, "Father of the Commons."
The patricians soon heard that Manlius was winning the
hearts of the people. Jealous as ever, they determined
to crush him.
On one pretext or another he was arrested, and when he
stood before the assembly of the people he was accused
of treason, for he had, so his enemies said, tried to
make himself king.
Manlius was standing in the Forum when he was accused,
and looking up he could see the Capitol.
Pointing to the temple, Manlius appealed to the gods
and to the gratitude of the Romans to save him. And
the people, remembering all that he had done, refused
to condemn him, in spite of the anger of the
But the patricians were still determined to destroy the
Father of the Commons. The very name was an offence to
They succeeded in once more bringing Manlius to trial;
but this time they arranged that it should take place
in a grove, from which no glimpse of the Capitol could
Here he was sentenced to death, and as his crime was
treason, it was decreed that he should be thrown down
the Tarpeian Rock.
The struggle between the patricians and the plebeians
lasted for nearly half a century after the death of
But in the year 376 B.C., and for ten
years afterwards, a wise man named Licinius did all
that he could to make better laws for the people. The
laws of this tribune were called the Licinian Laws.
Let me tell you three of the laws by which Licinius
tried to gain fair treatment for the plebians.
He made it unlawful for the patricians to take an
 rate of interest from the poor. As the patricians had
grown rich with the money that they had extorted from
the plebeians, they disliked this Licinian law. But to
the poor it was of the greatest use.
Public land, which belonged to the poor as much as to
the rich, had in the past been seized by the powerful
and already wealthy patricians. This, said the
tribune, should no longer be allowed. The land should
henceforth be divided justly.
And of all these new laws, perhaps the most important
was this, that one Consul should be chosen from among
the plebeians. The patricians did their utmost to
prevent this law from being passed, and when they were
forced to yield, they did so with a bad grace.
To make it clear that they still had privileges which
were not shared by the people, they decreed that
certain new magistrates should be elected. These new
magistrates were called prætors, and only
patricians could be chosen for this new office.
Yet even so, the Licinian Laws improved the position of
the plebeians, and were considered by them to be both
wise and just.
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