Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

Antoninus Pius

When the new ruler was called to the throne, he received the surname Pius, because he had been very good to Hadrian when that emperor was ill and would fain have killed himself. Antoninus had no ambition to reign, but he accepted the crown because it had been Hadrian's wish that he should look after the welfare of the Roman people.

One of his first acts was to adopt another good man, Marcus Aurelius, as his successor, and to show clemency toward a few of the senators who conspired against him. The leaders of the conspiracy, fearing his wrath, killed themselves in their terror; but Antoninus would not allow any inquiry to be made into the plot, lest he should hear that there were other Romans who hated him.

All through his long reign of more than twenty years, his gentleness and moderation continued, and his first and constant thought was the good of his people. Once, during a famine, he was stoned by some of the most ignorant Romans, who fancied that their sufferings were his fault. But, instead of punishing them, he freely forgave them, and divided all the food he had in his palace among the famished multitude.

We are told that Antoninus built the great circus at Nimes, in Gaul, because his family had lived there; and that he ordered the erection of the huge aqueduct near there which is known as the "Bridge of the Gard."

Antoninus once read the works of a philosopher named Justin, who had been converted to Christianity. From them he learned that the Christians, whom the Romans despised and illtreated, taught their disciples nothing but good; and he therefore put an end to the persecutions against them.

Although the emperor himself was not a Christian, he allowed the new sect to practice their religion openly. Before this, the Christians had been obliged to hide in the Catacombs, long, underground passages, where they had held their meetings in constant terror for their lives.

When Antoninus died, at the age of seventy-four, the people all mourned for him as for a father; and they erected a column in his honor, of which nothing but the base can now be seen. We are told that this monument bore the emperor's favorite maxim, which was: "I would rather save the life of one citizen, than put to death a thousand enemies."


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