Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Vision of Brutus

As soon as the triumvirs had thus taken all the power into their own hands, they began to think of avenging their private wrongs; and they drew up long lists of the people that were to be slain. In this, they followed the example of Marius and Sulla, instead of showing themselves generous and forgiving like Julius Cæsar.

To satisfy one another's demands, they were all forced to sacrifice some of their relatives and friends. Lepidus gave up his brother to the vengeance of his colleagues; Antony did the same with his uncle; and Octavius consented to the death of his friend Cicero.

When these plans were settled, the triumvirs marched towards Rome, and took possession of the city by force. Then their soldiers began to kill all the citizens whose names stood upon the proscription lists. Many tried to escape, and among them was Cicero, although he was so ill at the time that he had to be carried in a litter.

The soldiers pursued the orator, and soon overtook him. Knowing that all resistance would be useless, Cicero thrust his head meekly out of the litter, and it was struck off with a single blow. The men also carried away his right hand, because Antony had said that he would like to have the hand which had written such angry speeches against him.

Antony and his wife, Fulvia, are said to have received these ghastly presents with lively tokens of joy. Fulvia even pierced the dead orator's tongue with her golden hairpin, in revenge for his having ventured to speak ill of Antony. But this unfeeling woman was soon punished for her cruelty. Her husband, who had not scrupled to kill a friend, soon deserted her, and she finally died of grief and loneliness.

More than two thousand Roman citizens were murdered at this time to satisfy the cruelty of the triumvirs. Many others escaped death only by leaving the country. We are told that one young man carried off his aged and infirm father on his back to save him from his pursuers. Father and son reached a place of safety, where they staid in hiding until they could return to Rome without danger. They were warmly welcomed when they came back, and every one had a kind word to say to the brave young man who had not forsaken his father, although his own life was threatened too.

At the very head of the triumvirs' proscription lists, stood the names of Brutus and Cassius; but these murderers of the great Cæsar were absent, and therefore could not be killed. Brutus had gone to Athens, in Greece, where he persuaded many of the Romans who were studying there to join his army in Macedonia.

It was here that Brutus, a very poor sleeper, once had a strange dream. A specter appeared to him while he slept, and solemnly said: "Brutus, I am thy evil genius; thou shalt see me again at Philippi!"

Shortly after this, Brutus was camping at Philippi, with an army. On the eve of a great battle, he is said to have seen the same specter, who now warned him that his end was near. The battle of Philippi was a very serious one; for Brutus, Cassius, and all their friends were on the one side, while Mark Antony, Octavius, and many other Romans were on the other.

Before very long, however, Cassius and his men were defeated, and he killed himself, without waiting for the end of the battle. Brutus was at first victorious; but a few days later he, too, was defeated. While he was striking madly right and left, his friend Lucilius sprang forward.

Lucilius had seen that Antony's men were trying to capture Brutus; so he threw himself before his beloved general, crying aloud that he was Brutus. While he was being taken to Antony's tent, where the mistake was soon discovered, the real Brutus escaped.

Fearing that he would be overtaken and made prisoner, Brutus vainly implored his friends and slaves to kill him; then, in despair, he fell at last upon his own sword. When Brutus thus put an end to his life he was only forty-three years of age, and had survived Cæsar about two years.


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