|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 SCHOOLMASTER WHO PROVED A TRAITOR
 THE Falerians were not disturbed when the Roman army
pitched its camp without their walls, not even although
they knew that so great a general as Camillus was at
Their city was well fortified, and so, sure of being
able to defend it, they guarded their walls, and then
went on with their work and with their play as was
But there was a traitor within the walls of Falerii,
and through his treachery misfortune well-nigh overtook
The traitor was a schoolmaster. He thought that it
would be an easy matter to betray the city to the
Romans by the aid, unknown to themselves, of his
Before the siege began he had been used to take the
children outside the city walls for their daily walks
He continued to do so after the Romans had laid siege
to the city, but at first he did not venture far from
the gates, lest the children should be afraid.
But, little by little, as they became careless of the
enemy, the schoolmaster took them nearer and nearer to
the Roman camp. Then one day, before the boys were
aware, their master had led them close to the enemy's
lines and had asked to be taken before Camillus.
He was admitted to the presence of the tribune, and
pointing to his pupils the traitor said: "I have
brought you the children of Falerii. With them in your
power, you will soon be able to make what terms you
 the citizens. They will give up their city without a
struggle to secure the safe return of their children."
But Camillus was not the man that the traitor had
dreamed. He looked with scorn upon the treacherous
schoolmaster, then, turning to those who stood near, he
said: "War indeed is of necessity attended with much
injustice and violence. Certain laws, however, all
good men observe, even in war itself, nor is victory so
great an object as to induce us to incur for its sake
obligations for base and impious acts. A great general
should rely on his own valour and not on other men's
Camillus then bade his officers strip off the
schoolmaster's clothes and tie his hands behind him.
The children were then given rods and told to beat
their master back to the city.
Meanwhile, the Falerians had missed the children.
Fathers and mothers, distraught with grief, rushed to
the walls, to the gates, but nowhere was there any
trace of their boys. Cries and lamentations filled the
Suddenly the cries were hushed. Hark! that was a
joyful shout! And then another and yet another rent
The children were there, in sight, running back,
merrily as it seemed, from the direction of the enemy's
Then silence fell upon the parents, for as the children
came nearer a strange picture was visible.
Their boys had rods in their hands, and they were
chasing and beating a miserable, naked man, who looked
like the honourable schoolmaster. But surely they must
be mistaken. . . .
A moment or two later the children rushed through the
gates, and in breathless haste told to their parents
all that had befallen them, and how Camillus himself
had bidden them chase the traitor schoolmaster back to
Not only the parents, but all the citizens of Falerii
were so pleased with the kindness Camillus had shown to
 children that they sent ambassadors to him, offering to
give up to the Romans whatever he chose to ask.
Again Camillus showed how generous a foe he could be,
for he made peace with the Falerians, and demanding
from them only a sum of money, he took his army back to
But the soldiers, who had hoped to gain much booty in
Falerii, were angry. When they reached Rome
empty-handed, they grumbled against their general, and
told the people he was not their friend, for he cared
for nothing save his own welfare.
Then his enemies determine to get rid of Camillus. So
they accused him of keeping more than his share of the
spoils of Veii. Even now, so they said, valuable brass
gates, to which he had no right, were in his
Camillus had many friends as well as many enemies, and
he entreated those who trusted him to prove that the
accusations brought against him were false. But all
they could promise to do was to help him pay, should
the Senate insist on fining him.
But this did not satisfy the brave Roman, who knew that
he was guiltless. He determined to leave the city for
which he had done so much, without waiting to hear his
As he passed through the gates, he turned, and
stretching out his hands toward the Capitol, he cried to
the gods: "If not for evil I have done," he cried,
"but through the hatred of my enemies I have been
driven into exile, grant that the Romans may soon grow
sorry and send for Camillus to help them when trouble
And his prayer was answered. For when, in 390
B.C., the Gauls descended upon Rome,
soldiers and citizens alike demanded that the Senate
should send to Camillus and beseech him to come to help
them in their dire need.
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