F Heritage History | Story of Rome by Mary Macgregor
Contents 
Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor




Horatius Slays His Sister

Tullus Hostilius, the king who succeeded Numa Pompilius in 672 B.C., loved war as much as Pompilius had loved peace.

He feared lest already the Romans had lost the renown that had been theirs on the battlefield when Romulus was king. So he determined to find a pretext for war as soon as possible, that his soldiers might show that courage was still theirs, and that their fame might spread as of old to the neighbouring tribes.

Such was the warlike character of Tullus Hostilius, that it was soon found necessary to throw wide the gates of the temple Janus.

It chanced that shortly after the new king came to the throne some Roman and Alban countrymen quarrelled, each saying that he had been robbed by the other.

Tullus at once took the side of his own people, sending to the King of Alba to demand that the goods which had been stolen should be restored. The King of Alba at the same time sent messengers to Tullus, claiming that justice should be meted out to those who had robbed his subjects.

The King of Rome received the messengers from Alba so courteously and treated them so well, that they forgot the errand on which they had been sent, until startled by the return of the Roman ambassadors.

They, having been refused justice by the King of Alba, had, ere they left, declared that the Romans would avenge the wrong done to their countrymen.

Tullus was well pleased with the report of his ambassadors. He sent away the careless messengers of Alba, bidding them tell their king that it was he who had provoked the war.

The two kings speedily collected their armies and marched to the battlefield. But before the war began the King of Alba died. Then the Albans chose one of their number, named Mettius, to be Dictator.

He, standing between the two armies, begged that the victory might be decided by single combat, so that many lives might be spared.

To this Tullus agreed, sending forth as the Roman champions three brothers, called the Horatii, while the choice of Mettius fell upon three Alban brothers, named the Curiatii.

A great silence fell upon the two armies as the combatants stood forth, armed to the teeth, and the contest which was to settle the fate of Rome and Alba began.

Should the Horatii win, Rome would seize Alba as its prize. Should the Curiatii be the victors, Rome would be forfeit to the Albans.

Fierce and yet more fierce fell the blows of the champions, until at length, two of the Horatii lay slain on the ground, while the three Curiatii were wounded.

Then, to the dismay of the Roman army, Horatius, on whose courage the safety of Rome depended, turned and fled, pursued by the three wounded men.

But the Romans need not have feared that Horatius had turned coward. His flight, as they soon saw, was but a feint to separate his enemies.

As the swiftest of the Curiatii gained upon him, the Roman champion turned and smote him to the ground. Without a moment's pause Horatius then attacked the second brother, who had now reached his side, and he also fell before the fury of the Roman's stroke. The last of the Curiatii had been forced to follow more slowly, as his wounds had been severe. He, too, was now stricken down by the conqueror.

Rome was saved! At the thought great shouts rent the air, and Horatius was led in triumph toward the city.

As the glad procession drew near to the gate, the sister of Horatius came out to meet her brother. She was the promised bride of one of the Curiatii.

When she saw Horatius, wearing on his shoulders the cloak of her betrothed, which she herself had embroidered, she broke into bitter sobs and began to curse him for his cruel deed.

Horatius victor over Curiatti

When she saw Horatius wearing on his shoulders the cloak of her betrothed, she broke into bitter sobs.


Then Horatius, in sudden passion, drew his sword and stabbed his sister, crying: 'So perish the Roman maiden who shall weep for her country's enemy.'

Great was the service Horatius had done for Rome that day, yet his rash act could not be allowed to pass unpunished. He was taken prisoner, and brought before two judges, who condemned him to death.

But Horatius refused to submit to his sentence, and appealed to the people of Rome to save him. And for the sake of his old father, who had already that day lost two sons, as well as because he himself had risked his life for his country, the people listened to his plea and set him free.

Yet, as a public penance, he was obliged to pass beneath a yoke and offer sacrifices to the spirit of the sister he had slain.

The yoke under which Horatius had to pass was formed of two beams of wood which were thrust into the ground, and across the top of which a third beam was placed. Sometimes the yoke was made by using three swords in this way.

But it was a wooden yoke under which Horatius stooped, and one of the beams was treasured for many years, and named the 'sister's beam.'

Yet it was not only the memory of his penance that was preserved. To recall his courage to the Romans who would follow him, the arms which Horatius had taken from the Curiatii were hung on a pillar in the market-place. And in days to come the citizens would point to this pillar, saying: 'It is the pillar of Horatius.'