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.

Among those who were in danger was the nephew of Marius’ wife, Caius Julius Caesar, but, as he was of a high patrician family, Sulla only required of him to divorce his wife and marry a stepdaughter of his own.  Caesar refused, and fled to the Sabine hills, where pursuers were sent after him; but his life was begged for by his friends at Rome, especially by the Vestal Virgins, and Sulla spared his life, saying, however, “Beware; in that young trifler is more than one Marius.”  Caesar went to join the army in the East for safety, and thus broke off the idle life of pleasure he had been leading in Rome.

[Illustration:  PALAZZO VECCHIO, FLORENCE.]

The country people were even more cruelly punished than the citizens:  whole cities were destroyed and districts laid waste; the whole of Etruria was ravaged, the old race entirely swept away, and the towns ruined beyond revival, while the new city of Florence was built with their remains, and all we know of them is from the tombs which have of late years been opened.

[Illustration:  CORNELIUS SULLA.]

Both the consuls had perished, and Sulla caused himself to be named Dictator.  He had really a purpose in all the horrors he had perpetrated, namely, to clear the way for restoring the old government at Rome, which Marius and his Italians had been overthrowing.  He did not see that the rule which had worked tolerably well while Rome was only a little city with a small country round it, would not serve when it was the head of numerous distant countries, where the governors, like himself and Marius, grew rich, and trained armies under them able to overpower the whole state at home.  So he set to work to put matters as much as possible in the old order.  So many of the Senate had been killed, that he had to make up the numbers by putting in three hundred knights; and, to supply the lack of other citizens, after the hosts who had perished, he allowed the Italians to go on coming in to be enrolled as citizens; and ten thousand slaves, who had belonged to his victims, were not only set free, but made citizens as his own clients, thus taking the name of Cornelius.  He also much lessened the power of the tribunes of the people, and made a law that when a man had once been a tribune he should never be chosen for any of the higher offices of the state.  By these means he sought to keep up the old patrician power, on which he believed the greatness of Rome depended; though, after all, the grand old patrician families had mostly died off, and half the Senate were only knights made noble.

After this Sulla resigned the dictatorship, for he was growing old, and had worn out his health by his riot and luxury.  He spent his time in a villa near Rome, talking philosophy with his friends, and dictating the history of his own life in Greek.  When he died, he bade them burn his body, contrary to the practice of the Cornelii, no doubt fearing it would be treated like that of Marius.

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