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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.

Camillus commanded in another war with the Falisci, also an Etruscan race, and laid siege to their city.  The sons of almost all the chief families were in charge of a sort of schoolmaster, who taught them both reading and all kinds of exercises.  One day this man, pretending to take the boys out walking, led them all into the enemy’s camp, to the tent of Camillus, where he told that he brought them all, and with them the place, since the Romans had only to threaten their lives to make their fathers deliver up the city.  Camillus, however, was so shocked at such perfidy, that he immediately bade the lictors strip the fellow instantly, and give the boys rods with which to scourge him back into the town.  Their fathers were so grateful that they made peace at once, and about the same time the AEqui were also conquered; and the commons and open lands belonging to Veii being divided, so that each Roman freeman had six acres, the plebeians were contented for the time.

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The truth seems to have been that these Etruscan nations were weakened by a great new nation coming on them from the North.  They were what the Romans called Galli or Gauls, one of the great races of the old stock which has always been finding its way westward into Europe, and they had their home north of the Alps, but they were always pressing on and on, and had long since made settlements in northern Italy.  They were in clans, each obedient to one chief as a father, and joining together in one brotherhood.  They had lands to which whole families had a common right, and when their numbers outgrew what the land could maintain, the bolder ones would set off with their wives, children, and cattle to find new homes.  The Greeks and Romans themselves had begun first in the same way, and their tribes, and the claims of all to the common land, were the remains of the old way; but they had been settled in cities so long that this had been forgotten, and they were very different people from the wild men who spoke what we call Welsh, and wore checked tartan trews and plaids, with gold collars round their necks, round shields, huge broadswords, and their red or black hair long and shaggy.  The Romans knew little or nothing about what passed beyond their own Apennines, and went on with their own quarrels.  Camillus was accused of having taken more than his proper share of the spoil of Veii, in especial a brass door from a temple.  His friends offered to pay any fine that might be laid on him, but he was too proud to stand his trial, and chose rather to leave Rome.  As he passed the gates, he turned round and called upon the gods to bring Rome to speedy repentance for having driven him away.

Even then the Gauls were in the midst of a war with Clusium, the city of Porsena, and the inhabitants sent to beg the help of the Romans, and the senate sent three young brothers of the Fabian family to try to arrange matters.  They met the Gaulish Bran or chief, whom Latin authors call Brennus, and asked him what was his quarrel with Clusium or his right to any part of Etruria.  Brennus answered that his right was his sword, and that all things belonged to the brave, and that his quarrel with the men of Clusium was, that though they had more land than they could till, they would not yield him any.  As to the Romans, they had robbed their neighbors already, and had no right to find fault.

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