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.
was enrolled by his own praenomen, Caius or Lucius, or whatever it might be, for there was only a choice of fifteen.  After this he was liable to be called out to fight.  A certain number of men were chosen from each tribe by the tribune.  It was divided into centuries, each led by a centurion; and the whole body together was called a legion, from lego, to choose.  In later times the proper number for a legion was 6000 men.  Each legion had a standard, a bar across the top of the spear, with the letters on it S P Q R—­Senatus, Populus Que Romanus—­meaning the Roman Senate and People, a purple flag below and a figure above, such as an eagle, or the wolf and twins, or some emblem dear to the Romans.  The legions were on foot, but the troops of patricians and knights on horseback were attached to them and had to protect them.

[Illustration:  FEMALE COSTUMES.]

The Romans had in those days very small riches, they held in general small farms in the country, which they worked themselves with the help of their sons and slaves.  The plebeians were often the richest.  They too held farms leased to them by the state, and had often small shops in Rome.  The whole territory was so small that it was easy to come into Rome to worship, attend the Senate, or vote, and many had no houses in the city.  Each man was married with a ring and sacrifice, and the lady was then carried over the threshold, on which a sheepskin was spread, and made mistress of the house by being bidden to be Caia to Caius.  The Roman matrons were good and noble women in those days, and the highest praise of them was held to be Domum mansit, lanam fecit—­she stayed at home and spun wool.  Each man was absolute master in his own house, and had full power over his grown-up sons, even for life or death, and they almost always submitted entirely.  For what made the Romans so great was that they were not only brave, but they were perfectly obedient, and obeyed as perfectly as they could their fathers, their officers, their magistrates, and, as they thought, their gods.

[Illustration]

CHAPTER VIII.

MENENIUS AGRIPPA’S FABLE.

B.C. 494.

A great deal of the history of Rome consists of struggles between the patricians and plebeians.  In those early days the plebeians were often poor, and when they wanted to improve their lands they had to borrow money from the patricians, who not only had larger lands, but, as they were the officers in war, got a larger share of the spoil.  The Roman law was hard on a man in debt.  His lands might be seized, he might be thrown into prison or sold into slavery with his wife and children, or, if the creditors liked, be cut to pieces so that each might take his share.

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