F Heritage History | Story of the Romans by Helene Guerber
Contents 
Front Matter 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

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




The Inventor Archimedes

Hiero, King of Syracuse, died shortly after the battle of Cannæ. He had helped the Romans much, but his successors soon made an alliance with the Carthaginians, and declared war against Rome.

The Romans, however, had taken new courage from the welcome news that Hannibal had decided upon going to Capua, instead of marching straight on to Rome. As soon as some of the new troops could be spared, therefore, they were sent over to Sicily, under the command of Marcellus, with orders to besiege Syracuse. This was a very great undertaking, for the city was strongly fortified, and within its walls was Archimedes, one of the most famous mathematicians and inventors that have ever been known.

He had discovered that even the heaviest weights could be handled with ease by means of pulleys and levers; and he is said to have exclaimed: "Give me a long enough lever and a spot whereon to rest it, and I will lift the world."

Archimedes

Archimedes.


Archimedes made use of his great talents to invent all sorts of war engines. He taught the Syracusans how to fashion stone catapults of great power, and large grappling hooks which swung over the sea, caught the enemy's vessels, and overturned them in the water. He is also said to have devised a very clever arrangement of mirrors and burning glasses, by means of which he could set fire to the Roman ships. To prevent the Syracusan ships from sinking when they had water in their holds, he invented a water screw which could be used for a pump.

Thanks to the skill of Archimedes, the Syracusans managed to hold out very long; but finally the Romans forced their way into the town. They were so angry with the people for holding out so long that they plundered the whole city, and killed many of the inhabitants.

A Roman soldier rushed into the house where Archimedes was sitting, so absorbed in his calculations that he was not even aware that the city had been taken. The soldier, not knowing who this student was, killed Archimedes as he was sitting in front of a table loaded with papers.

Marcellus, the Roman general, had given orders that the inventor should be spared, and was very sorry to hear that he was dead. To do Archimedes honor, he ordered a fine funeral, which was attended by Romans and Syracusans alike.

In the mean while, Hannibal was beginning to lose ground in Italy; and the Carthaginians who were left in Spain had been obliged to fight many battles. Their leader was Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, while the Romans were commanded by the two Scipios.

These two generals were at last both unlucky; but their successor, another Scipio, defeated the Carthaginians so many times that the whole country became at last a Roman province. Escaping from Spain, Hasdrubal prepared to follow the road his brother had taken, so as to join him in southern Italy.

He never reached Hannibal, however; for after crossing the Alps he was attacked and slain, with all his army. The Romans who won this great victory then hastened south and threw Hasdrubal's head into his brother's camp; and this was the first news that Hannibal had of the great disaster.

All the luck in the beginning of this war had been on the side of the Carthaginians. But fortune had now forsaken them completely; and Hannibal, after meeting with another defeat, went back with his army to Carthage, because he heard that Scipio had come from Spain to besiege the city.

The country to the west of Carthage, called Numidia, was at this time mostly divided between two rival kings. One of them, Masinissa, sent his soldiers to help Scipio as soon as he crossed over to Africa, and the Romans could not but admire the fine horsemanship of these men. They were the ancestors of the Berbers, who live in the same region to-day and are still fine riders.

Syphax, the rival of Masinissa, joined the Carthaginians, who promised to make him king of all Numidia if they succeeded in winning the victory over their enemies. With their help he fought three great battles against the Romans, but in each one he was badly defeated, and in the last he was made prisoner.

After Hannibal came, he soon met the invaders near Zama, and a great battle was fought, in which Scipio and Masinissa gained the victory. In their despair, the Carthaginians proposed to make peace. The Romans consented, and the Second Punic War ended, after it had raged about seventeen years.

On his return to Rome, Scipio was honored by receiving the surname of Africanus, and by a grand triumph, in which Syphax followed his car, chained like a slave. But although the Romans cheered Scipio wildly, and lavished praises upon him, they soon accused him of having wrongfully taken possession of some of the gold he had won during his campaigns.

This base accusation was brought soon after Scipio had helped to win some great victories in Asia, of which you will soon hear; and it made him so angry that he left Rome forever. He withdrew to his country house in Campania, a part of Italy to the southeast of Rome.

Here he remained as long as he lived; and when he died he left orders that his bones should not rest in a city which had proved so ungrateful as Rome.