Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive. — Nietzsche

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




The Proscription Lists

Marius would not reënter Rome until the frightened senate recalled his sentence of banishment; for he always appeared very anxious to obey the laws, so as to make the people believe that he was thinking only of them.

The Roman citizens were, therefore, called together, the question was put to the vote, and Marius found a large majority in favor of his return. He entered Rome, as powerful as ever, and celebrated his return by ordering the death of all the people who had been his enemies.

Marius and Cinna named themselves consuls, and one of their first acts was to set aside all the laws made by Sulla. Their next was to hunt up all his friends, and to carry out their bloody plans for revenge by killing them all. Fortunately for the Romans, however, the old man died one month after his return to Rome, and thus his bloody career came to an end.

In the mean while the news that Marius had returned to Rome was sent as quickly as possible to Sulla, who was making war against Mithridates in the East. Sulla waited till he had won many victories over this king; then, making peace, he came home as fast as possible to punish the men who had murdered his friends.

It was too late to injure Marius, for he was dead; but Sulla was fully as bloodthirsty as his former rival, and turned his wrath against Cinna and the son of Marius, who were now at the head of their party. Hearing that Sulla had made peace with Mithridates, and was on his way home, Cinna sent an army to meet and stop him.

But, instead of fighting Sulla, the Romans deserted, and joined him, hoping to receive a share of the gold which he had brought back from the East. Owing to this increase in his forces, and to the help of Pompey, who raised an army for him in Italy, Sulla won several victories, and finally marched into Rome at the head of his troops.

Cinna was killed by his own soldiers, and when Sulla entered Rome he had eight thousand prisoners of war who had belonged to the party of Marius. Instead of showing himself generous, he secretly ordered the massacre of all these men before he went to the senate.

The cries and groans of the dying could be plainly heard by the senators. They trembled and grew pale, but they did not dare oppose Sulla, and only shuddered when he said: "I will not spare a single man who has borne arms against me."

Then, for many days, long lists were made, containing the names of all the citizens whom Sulla wished to have slain. These lists were posted in public places, and a proclamation was made, offering a reward for the killing of each man whose name was marked there, and threatening with death any one—even a relative—who should give such a man shelter.

Through the civil wars waged between the parties of Marius and Sulla, and through these fatal lists, more than one hundred and fifty thousand Roman citizens lost their lives.

Sulla, to prevent any one else from ruling the Romans, now forced them to name him dictator for life. But, after governing for a short time with capricious tyranny, he suddenly gave up his power, and retired to a country house, where he spent his days and nights in revelry of all kinds.

Soon after, he was seized by a most horrible and loathsome disease, which could not be cured. He died, in a terrible fit of senseless anger, after giving orders for his own funeral, and for the building of a magnificent tomb on the Field of Mars. On this was placed the following epitaph, which he had himself composed:

"I am Sulla the Fortunate, who, in the course of my life, have surpassed both friends and enemies; the former by the good, the latter by the evil, I have done them."

But, although Sulla boastfully called himself "the Fortunate," he was never really happy, because he thought more of himself than of his country and fellow-citizens.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire