Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

Invasion of the Goths

During the reign of Decius, a new and terrible race of barbarians, called Goths, came sweeping down from the north. They were tall and fierce, and traveled with their wives and children, their flocks, and all they owned.

The Goths were divided into several large tribes: the Ostrogoths, or East Goths, the Visigoths, or West Goths, and the Gepidæ, or Laggards, so called because this tribe followed the others. All these barbarians spoke a rude Teutonic dialect, like the one from which the present German language has grown; and among the gods whom they worshiped was Odin.

The Goths met the Romans in several battles, and spreading always farther, ruined many towns, among others, Philippopolis, in Thrace, a city which had been founded by the father of Alexander the Great. Here they killed more than one hundred thousand people.

Decius marched against the Goths, hoping to punish them for this massacre; but he fell into an ambush, where he was killed with his son. His successor, Gallus, made a dishonorable peace with the barbarians, and allowed them to settle on the other side of the Danube.

Gallus and his general Æmilian, who succeeded him, were both slain by their own troops; and the next emperor was Valerian, who was the choice of the Roman legions in Rætia. This last named prince was both brave and virtuous. He arrived in Rome to find both Gallus and Aemilian dead, and took possession of the throne without dispute.

Although already a very old man, Valerian directed his son Gallienus to attend to the wars in Europe, while he went off to Asia to fight Sapor, King of Persia. This monarch had overrun much Roman territory, and had surprised the city of Antioch while the inhabitants were at the theater.

Valerian recovered Antioch from the enemy, but was finally defeated and taken prisoner. We are told that he was treated very harshly by Sapor, who used the emperor's neck as a mounting block whenever he wanted to get on his horse.

Some writers of history say that when Valerian died, the Persian king had him flayed. His skin was then dyed red, stuffed, and hung up in a temple, where Sapor insolently pointed it out to the Roman ambassadors, saying, "Behold your emperor!"


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