Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Emperor's Tablets

Some of the Roman legions, displeased at having so unworthy an emperor, revolted under their general Antonius. As he failed to please them, however, they did not fight very bravely for him, and his troops were completely defeated the first time they met the legions which still remained faithful to Domitian.

Although the soldiers had failed to get rid of Domitian, the cruel reign of that emperor was soon ended. He had married a wife by force, and she was known by the name of Domitia. Of course she could not love a husband who had taken her against her will. Domitian therefore grew tired of her, and wrote her name down upon the tablets where he was wont to place the names of the next persons to be slain.

Domitia found these tablets. Seeing her own name among several others, she carried the list to two pretorian guards who were to die also, and induced them to murder Domitian. Under the pretext of revealing a conspiracy against him, these men sent a freedman into the imperial chamber.

While Domitian was eagerly reading a paper upon which the names of the conspirators were written, this freedman suddenly drew out a dagger, which he had hidden beneath his robe, and dealt the emperor a mortal wound.

Domitian fell, loudly calling for help. The pretorian guard rushed in at this sound, but, instead of killing the freedman, they helped him dispatch their master, who had reigned about fifteen years, but had not made a single friend.

The Romans related that signs and prodigies foretold the emperor's death, and that an astrologer at Ephesus saw the crime reflected in the skies at the very moment when it happened.

Under Domitian's reign there was another terrible persecution of the Christians, and John, a disciple of our Lord, was banished to the island of Patmos, where he wrote Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Although John escaped on this occasion, he later became a martyr, for he was tortured by being plunged into boiling oil.

It is said, however, in some stories, that John did not die in the boiling oil, but lived to be a very old man. On the spot where he is said to have suffered there is now a chapel which bears his name.


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