Young Folks' History of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Young Folks' History of Rome.
according to their wealth.  Then these centuries, or hundreds, had votes, by the persons they chose, when it was a question of peace or war.  Their meeting was called the Comitia; but as there were more patrician centuries than plebeian ones, the patricians still had much more power.  Besides, the Senate and all the magistrates were in those days always patricians.  These magistrates were chosen every year.  There were two consuls, who were like kings for the time, only that they wore no crowns; they had purple robes, and sat in chairs ornamented with ivory, and they were always attended by lictors, who carried bundles of rods tied round an axe—­the first for scourging, the second for beheading.  There were under them two praetors, or judges, who tried offences; two quaestors, who attended to the public buildings; and two censors, who had to look after the numbering and registering of the people in their tribes and centuries.  The consuls in general commanded the army, but sometimes, when there was a great need, one single leader was chosen and was called dictator.  Sometimes a dictator was chosen merely to fulfil an omen, by driving a nail into the head of the great statue of Jupiter in the Capitol.  Besides these, all the priests had to be patricians; the chief of all was called Pontifex Maximus.  Some say this was because he was the fax (maker) of pontes (bridges), as he blessed them and decided by omens where they should be; but others think the word was Pompifex, and that he was the maker of pomps or ceremonies.  There were many priests as well as augurs, who had to draw omens from the flight of birds or the appearance of sacrifices, and who kept the account of the calendar of lucky and unlucky days, and of festivals.

[Illustration:  Female costumes.]

The Romans were a grave religious people in those days, and did not count their lives or their affections dear in comparison with their duties to their altars and their hearths, though their notions of duty do not always agree with ours.  Their dress in the city was a white woollen garment edged with purple—­it must have been more like in shape to a Scottish plaid than anything else—­and was wrapped round so as to leave one arm free:  sometimes a fold was drawn over the head.  No one might wear it but a free-born Roman, and he never went out on public business without it, even when more convenient fashions had been copied from Greece.  Those who were asking votes for a public office wore it white (candidus), and therefore were called candidates.  The consuls had it on great days entirely purple and embroidered, and all senators and ex-magistrates had broader borders of purple.  The ladies wore a long graceful wrapping-gown; the boys a short tunic, and round their necks was hung a hollow golden ball called a bulla, or bubble.  When a boy was seventeen, there was a great family sacrifice to the Lares and the forefathers, his bulla was taken off, the toga was put on, and he

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