|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 |
A SLAVE BECOMES A KING
 AMONG the slaves of the king was a young boy named Servius
Tullius. One day the lad fell fast asleep in the
doorway of the palace.
As he slept, it chanced that Tanaquil, the queen, came
out to walk in the palace grounds. When she saw
Servius she would have roused him, save that a flame of
fire was playing around his head, yet doing him no
But the attendants of the queen also saw this strange
sight, and at once rushed off in search of water with
which to put out the flame.
Tanaquil, however, called to them to return, saying:
"Leave the lad to sleep. The flame will not injure
Then, hastening back to the palace, she told the king
what she had seen, adding: "The gods have appointed
Servius to great honour."
From that day the boy was no longer treated as a slave,
but as the king's son, and when he was older he was
married to the daughter of Tarquinius.
Little by little Servius Tullius was entrusted with the
cares of State, while the Senate or elders of the
people treated him as a prince.
Now the sons of Ancus, from whom Tarquinius had stolen
the crown, were indignant when they saw the former
slave treated with more honour than were they, and they
grew afraid lest the king should appoint Servius to
succeed him. That this might not be, they determined
to kill Tarquinius.
 Hiring two men, they bade them go kill the king, and
they should be well rewarded for their deed.
So the men disguised themselves as shepherds, and
begged to be admitted to the presence of Tarquinius,
that he might settle their dispute, for, so they
pretended, they had quarrelled with one another while
they tended their flocks.
When they stood before the king one of the shepherds
began to tell a piteous tale. While Tarquinius was
listening, the other suddenly raised his axe, and with
one great blow killed the king. The false shepherds
then fled from the palace.
But the sons of Ancus had forgotten that Tanaquil was
left to thwart their plans.
No sooner was the king slain, than she ordered the
doors of the palace to be closed. Then, when the
people heard it rumoured that the king was dead and
rushed to the palace, Tanaquil opened an upper window
and spoke to the crowds below.
"The king is but wounded," she told them, "he is not
dead. He has commanded that you should obey Servius
until he is again able to rule." But all the while
Tarquinius lay in the palace, dead.
But the people, loyal, as they thought, to the wishes
of their king, allowed Servius to rule. And the sons
of Ancus knew that they had killed the king in vain.
A few days later it was known that the king was really
dead; yet, although neither the Senate nor the people
had chosen Servius to be king, he continued to sit upon
the throne and to rule over Rome. Moreover, he was
wise enough to try to win the hearts of the people by
promising to give them land and to rule justly.
So well did he perform his royal duties, that when he
called together an assembly of the people he was at
once elected king.
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