Young Folks' History of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Young Folks' History of Rome.

But with the good there was much of evil.  All the old cities, and especially Rome, were full of a strange mixture of Christian show and heathen vice.  There was such idleness and luxury in the towns that hardly any Romans had hardihood enough to go out to fight their own battles, but hired Goths, Germans, Gauls, and Moors; and these learned their ways of warfare, and used them in their turn against the Romans themselves.  Nothing was so much run after as the games in the amphitheatres.  People rushed there to watch the chariot races, and went perfectly wild with eagerness about the drivers whose colors they wore; and even the gladiator games were not done away with by Christianity, although these sports were continually preached against by the clergy, and no really devout person would go to the theatres.  Much time was idled away at the baths, which were the place for talk and gossip, and where there was a soft steamy air which was enough to take away all manhood and resolution.  The ladies’ dresses were exceedingly expensive and absurd, and the whole way of living quite as sumptuous and helpless as in the times of heathenism.  Good people tried to live apart.  More than ever became monks and hermits; and a number of ladies, who had been much struck with St. Jerome’s teaching, made up a sort of society at Rome which busied itself in good works and devotion.  Two of the ladies, a mother and daughter, followed him to the Holy Land, and dwelt in a convent at Bethlehem.

Maximus after a time advanced into Italy, and Valentinian fled to ask the help of Theodosius, who came with an army, defeated and slew Maximus, and restored Valentinian, but only for a short time, for the poor youth was soon murdered by a Frank chief in his own service named Arbogastes.

CHAPTER XL.

THEODOSIUS THE GREAT.

392-395.

The Frank, Arbogastes, who had killed Valentinian did not make himself Emperor, but set up a heathen philosopher called Eugenius, who for a little while restored all the heathen pomp and splendor, and opened the temples again, threatening even to take away the churches and turn the chief one at Milan into a stable.  They knew that Theodosius would soon come to attack them, so they prepared for a great resistance in the passes of the Julian Alps, and the image of the Thundering Jupiter was placed to guard them.

[Illustration]

Theodosius had collected his troops and marched under the Labarum—­that is to say, the Cross of Constantine, which had been the ensign of the imperial army ever since the battle of the Milvian Bridge.  It was the cross combined with the two first Greek letters of the name Christ, [Symbol:  Greek chi & rho combined], and was carried, as the eagles had been, above a purple silk banner.  The men of Eugenius bore before them a figure of Hercules, and in the first battle they gained the advantage, for the more ignorant Eastern soldiers, though Christians, could not get rid of the notion that there was some sort of power in a heathen god, and thought Jupiter and Hercules were too strong for them.

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Young Folks' History of Rome from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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