|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 SABINE MAIDENS
 WHEN Romulus had built his city and surrounded it with a
wall, he began to fortify the hill on which it was
built. This was necessary because hostile tribes held
the neighbouring hills, and might at any moment attack
the new city.
The king ordered his followers to scrape the steep
slopes of the Palatine until they were smooth. Then
great slabs of stones, fitted into each other without
mortar, were built into the sides of the hill, from the
base to the summit.
Romulus was pleased when he saw this great
fortification finished, for he knew that it was almost
impossible that an enemy should scale the smooth
surface of the hill and lay siege to the city.
Not far from the foot of the Palatine flowed the river
Tiber, a safe highway to the sea. So the king as he
gazed, first at his well-fortified city and then down
to the swift flowing river, felt that he had indeed
chosen his site with wisdom.
The Palatine was only one of seven hills, and each of
the other six was added to the city during the reign of
the six kings who ruled after Romulus. Five of these
hills were called montes or mountains, while the other
two, being only spurs that jutted out from the
tableland, were called colles or hills.
But I have not yet told you the name of the city! Amid
the shouts of his people the king named it Rome, after
its founder Romulus.
Rome was built and fortified, yet the king was
 for now he found that he had not enough people to dwell
in the city.
The king must by this time have taken possession of the
Capitoline hill, which was close to the Palatine, for
here he resolved to build a city of refuge, that those
who fled to it might gradually be removed to Rome.
Asylum, which is the Greek word for refuge, was the
name of this city, and it was open to all those who had
been forced by crime or misfortune to flee from their
To this Asylum hastened robbers, exiles, slaves who had
fled from their masters, as well as those who had
stained their hands with blood.
The city of refuge was soon crowded, and many of these
rough and criminal folk were then sent to Rome, until
Romulus had as many subjects as he wished.
But there were no women among those who fled to the
king for protection, and Romulus saw that he would have
to find wives for his new subjects.
So he begged the neighbouring tribes, among which was a
tribe called the Sabines, to allow their daughters to
marry his new subjects. But the king's request was
refused. Give their daughters to robbers and
murderers, to men who had been outlawed! The tribes
did not hesitate to mock at Romulus for thinking that
such a thing could be.
Romulus was not a king to be lightly thwarted. He was
determined at any cost to gain wives for his subjects.
So, as his neighbours had proved churlish and refused
his request, he made up his mind to capture their
daughters by guile, or by a trick, as we would say.
Nor did he take long to lay his plans. He invited his
neighbours, among whom were the Sabines, to a feast and
games which he wished to celebrate in honour of the god
They, eager to enjoy the feast and the great spectacle
of the games, came flocking into Rome on the appointed
day, bringing with them their wives and daughters.
Fearlessly they came, and were greeted with great
 hospitality by the king, who knew that he must hide his
anger until his plot had been successful.
The feast began with solemn rites, sacrifices being
offered to the gods, and especially to Consus, in whose
name the festival was held.
When the sacrifices were ended, the guests mingled
carelessly with the Romans, thinking only of the games
The king, seeing that the moment had come, gave the
signal for which his people were waiting.
A band of armed men at once rushed in among the guests,
and in spite of their screams and struggles, carried
away the Sabine maidens.
The parents of the maidens hastened to leave the city
where the laws of hospitality had been so cruelly
transgressed. As they went, they called down the anger
of the gods upon Romulus and his people.
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