There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. — Mark Twain

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Roman Conquests

You might think that the Romans had all they could do to fight the Carthaginians in Spain, Italy, and Africa; but even while the Second Punic War was still raging, they were also obliged to fight Philip V., King of Macedon.

As soon as the struggle with Carthage was ended, the war with Philip was begun again in earnest. The army was finally placed under the command of Flamininus, who defeated Philip, and compelled him to ask for peace. Then he told the Greeks, who had long been oppressed by the Macedonians, that they were free from further tyranny.

This announcement was made by Flamininus himself at the celebration of the Isthmian Games; and when the Greeks heard that they were free, they sent up such mighty shouts of joy that it is said that a flock of birds fell down to the earth quite stunned.

To have triumphed over the Carthaginians and Macedonians was not enough for the Romans. They had won much land by these wars, but were now longing to get more. They therefore soon began to fight against Antiochus, King of Syria, who had been the ally of the Macedonians, and now threatened the Greeks.

Although Antiochus was not a great warrior himself, he had at his court one of the greatest generals of the ancient world. This was Hannibal, whom the Carthaginians had exiled, and while he staid there he once met his conqueror, Scipio, and the two generals had many talks together.

On one occasion, Scipio is said to have asked Hannibal who was the greatest general the world had ever seen.

"Alexander!" promptly answered Hannibal.

"Whom do you rank next?" continued Scipio.


"And after Pyrrhus?"

"Myself!" said the Carthaginian, proudly.

"Where would you have placed yourself if you had conquered me?" asked Scipio.

"Above Pyrrhus, and Alexander, and all the other generals!" Hannibal exclaimed.

If Antiochus had followed Hannibal's advice, he might, perhaps, have conquered the Romans; but although he had a much greater army than theirs, he was soon driven out of Greece, and defeated in Asia on land and sea by another Scipio (a brother of Africanus), who thus won the title of Asiaticus.

Then the Romans forced Antiochus to give up all his land in Asia Minor northwest of the Taurus Mountains, and also made him agree to surrender his guest, Hannibal. He did not keep this promise, however; for Hannibal fled to Bithynia, where, finding that he could no longer escape from his lifelong enemies, he killed himself by swallowing the poison contained in a little hollow in a ring which he always wore.

The Romans had allowed Philip to keep the crown of Macedon on condition that he should obey them. He did so, but his successor, Perseus, hated the Romans, and made a last desperate effort to regain his freedom. The attempt was vain, however, and he was finally and completely defeated at Pydna.

Perseus was then made a prisoner and carried off to Italy, to grace the Roman general's triumph; and Macedon (or Macedonia), the most powerful country in the world under the rule of Alexander, was reduced to the rank of a Roman province, after a few more vain attempts to recover its independence.


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