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 Buried Cities

Titus, the son of Vespasian, was joyfully received as his successor, and became one of the best rulers that Rome had ever seen. He was as good as he was brave; and, although he was not a Christian, he is known as one of the best men that ever lived, and could serve as an example for many people now.

He soon won the hearts of all his people, and he fully deserved the title which they gave him, "Delight of Mankind." True and just, Titus punished informers, false witnesses, and criminals, and made examples of all sinful people. But he was very generous, too, and very courteous and ready to do good. Whenever a whole day passed without his being able to help any one, he would exclaim with regret, "Alas, I have lost a day!"

It was fortunate that the Romans had so good an emperor at that time, for a very great calamity happened, which filled the hearts of all with horror.

You may remember that Spartacus and the revolted slaves fled at first to a mountain called Mount Vesuvius. Well, in those days this mountain was covered with verdure, and near its foot were the two rich and flourishing cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The people felt no fear of the mountain, because it was not then, as now, an active volcano.

But one day they began to feel earthquakes, the air grew hot and very sultry, smoke began to come out of the crater, and all at once, with an awful noise, a terrible eruption took place. Red-hot rocks were shot far up into the air with frightful force; great rivers of burning lava flowed like torrents down the mountain side; and, before the people could escape, Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under many feet of ashes and lava.

Thousands of people died, countless homes were burned or buried, and much land which had formerly been very fertile was made barren and unproductive. Pliny, the naturalist, had been told of the strange, rumbling sounds which were heard in Vesuvius, and had journeyed thither from Rome to investigate the matter. He was on a ship at the time, but when he saw the smoke he went ashore near the mountain, and before long was smothered in the foul air.

Sixteen hundred years after the two cities were buried, an Italian began to dig a well in the place where Pompeii had once stood. After digging down to a depth of forty feet, he came across one of the old houses in a remarkable state of preservation.


Interior of a House in Pompeii.

Since then, the ruins have been partly dug out, and many treasures have been found there buried under the soil. The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum are visited every year by many travelers from all parts of the world. They go there to see how people lived in the days of the Roman emperors, and to admire the fragments of beautiful paintings, the statues, pottery, etc., which have been found there.

Most of the large houses in Pompeii had a central court or hall, in which was a large tank of fresh water. This was the coolest place in the house, and the children had great fun playing around the water and plunging in it.

When Pompeii was destroyed all Italy was saddened by the terrible catastrophe, but the Romans soon had cause to rejoice once more at the news of victories won abroad. A revolt in Britain was put down, and the people there soon learned to imitate their conquerors, and to build fine houses and solid roads.

The good emperor Titus died of a fever after a reign of about two years. His death was mourned by all his people, who felt that they would never have so good a friend again.