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 Death of Caesar

As soon as Cæsar landed in Egypt, he was offered Pompey's head. Instead of rejoicing at the sight of this ghastly token, he burst into tears. Then, taking advantage of his power, he interfered in the affairs of Egypt, and gave the throne to Cleopatra, the king's sister, who was the most beautiful woman of her time.

This did not please some of the Egyptians, who still wished to be ruled by Ptolemy. The result was a war between Ptolemy and the Egyptians on one side, and Cæsar and Cleopatra on the other.

In the course of this conflict the whole world suffered a great loss; for the magnificent library at Alexandria, containing four hundred thousand manuscript volumes, was accidentally set on fire. These precious books were written on parchment, or on a sort of bark called papyrus. They were all burned up, and thus were lost the records of the work of many ancient students.

Cæsar was victorious, as usual, and Cleopatra was made queen of Egypt. The Roman general then left her and went to fight in Pontus, where a new war had broken out. Such was the energy which Cæsar showed that he soon conquered the whole country. The news of his victory was sent to Rome in three Latin words, "Veni, vidi, vici," which mean, "I came, I saw, I conquered."

After a short campaign in Africa, Cæsar returned to Rome, where he was rewarded by four triumphs such as had never yet been seen. Not long afterwards, he was given the title of Imperator, a word which later came to mean "emperor." In his honor, too, one of the Roman months was called Julius, from which our name July has come.

Cæsar made one more remarkable campaign in Spain before he really settled down at Rome. He now devoted his clear mind and great energy to making better laws. He gave grain to the hungry people, granted lands to the soldiers who had fought so bravely, and became ruler under the title of dictator, which he was to retain for ten years.

As the people in Rome were always very fond of shows, Cæsar often amused them by sham battles. Sometimes, even, he would change the arena into a vast pool, by turning aside the waters of the Tiber; and then galleys sailed into the circus, where sham naval battles were fought under the eyes of the delighted spectators. He also permitted fights by gladiators; but, as he was not cruel by nature, he was careful not to let them grow too fierce.

Cæsar was a very ambitious man, and his dearest wish was always to be first, even in Rome. Some of his friends approved greatly of his ambition, and would have liked to make him king. But others were anxious to keep the republic, and feared that he was going to overthrow it.

Among the stanch Roman republicans were Cassius and Brutus. They were friends of Cæsar, but they did not like his thirst for power. Indeed, they soon grew so afraid lest he should accept the crown that they made a plot to murder him.

In spite of many warnings, Cæsar went to the senate on the day appointed by Cassius and Brutus for his death. It is said that he also paid no attention to the appearance of a comet, which the ancient Romans thought to be a sign of evil, although, as you know, a comet is as natural as a star. Cæsar was standing at the foot of Pompey's statue, calmly reading a petition which had been handed to him. All at once the signal was given, and the first blow struck. The great man first tried to defend himself, but when he saw Brutus pressing forward, dagger in hand, he sorrowfully cried: "And you, too, Brutus!" Then he covered his face with his robe, and soon fell, pierced with twenty-three mortal wounds.

Julius Caesar

Death of Cæsar.


Thus Cæsar died, when he was only fifty-five years of age. He was the greatest general, the best statesman, and the finest historian of his time and race. You will find many interesting things to read about him, and among them is a beautiful play by Shakespeare.

In this play the great poet tells us how Cæsar was warned, and how he went to the senate in spite of the warnings; and then he describes the heroic death of Cæsar, who was more grieved by his friends' treachery than by the ingratitude of the Romans whom he had served for so many years.