Introductory American History
Henry Eldridge Bourne and Elbert Jay Benton
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Gundry and PG Distributed Proofreaders
INTRODUCTORY AMERICAN HISTORY
HENRY ELDRIDGE BOURNE
ELBERT JAY BENTON
PROFESSORS OF HISTORY IN WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
This volume is the introductory part of a course in American history
embodying the plan of study recommended by the Committee of Eight of the
American Historical Association. The plan calls for a continuous
course running through grades six, seven, and eight. The events which
have taken place within the limits of what is now the United States must
necessarily furnish the most of the content of the lessons. But the
Committee urge that enough other matter, of an introductory character,
be included to teach boys and girls of from twelve to fourteen years of
age that our civilization had its beginnings far back in the history of
the Old World. Such introductory study will enable them to think of our
country in its true historical setting. The Committee recommend that
about two-thirds of one year's work be devoted to this preliminary
matter, and that the remainder of the year be given to the period of
discovery and exploration.
The plan of the Committee of Eight emphasizes three or four lines of
development in the world's history leading up to American
First, there was a movement of conquest or colonization by which the
ancient civilized world, originally made up of communities like the
Greeks and Phoenicians in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean Seas,
spread to southern Italy and adjacent lands. The Roman conquest of Italy
and of the barbarian tribes of western Europe expanded the civilized
world to the shores of the Atlantic. Within this greater Roman world new
nations grew up. The migration of Europeans to the American continent
was the final step.
Second, accompanying the growth of the civilized world in extent was a
growth of knowledge of the shape of the earth, or of what we call
geography. Columbus was a geographer as well as the herald of an
A third process was the creation and transmission of all that we mean by
civilization. Here, as the Committee remark, the effort should be to
"show, in a very simple way, the civilization which formed the heritage
of those who were to go to America, that is, to explain what America
The Committee also suggest that it is necessary "to associate the three
or four peoples of Europe which were to have a share in American
colonization with enough of their characteristic incidents to give the
child some feeling for the name 'England,' 'Spain,' 'Holland,' and
No attempt is made in this book to give a connected history of Greece,
Rome, England, or any other country of Europe. Such an attempt would be
utterly destructive of the plan. Only those features of early
civilization and those incidents of history have been selected which
appear to have a vital relation to the subsequent fortunes of mankind in
America as well as in Europe. They are treated in all cases as
introductory. Opinions may differ upon the question of what topics best
illustrate the relation. The Committee leaves a wide margin of
opportunity for the exercise of judgment in selection. In the use of a
textbook based on the plan the teacher should use the same liberty of
selection. For example, we have chosen the story of Marathon to
illustrate the idea of the heroic memories of Greece. Others may prefer
Thermopylae, because this story seems to possess a simpler dramatic
development. In the same way teachers may desire to give more emphasis
to certain phases of ancient or mediaeval civilization or certain heroic
persons treated very briefly in this book. Exercises similar to those
inserted at the end of each chapter offer means of supplementing work
provided in the text.
The story of American discovery and exploration in the plan of the
Committee of Eight follows the introductory matter as a natural
culmination. In our textbook we have adhered to the same plan of
division. The work of the seventh grade will, therefore, open with the
study of the first permanent English settlements.
The discoveries and explorations are told in more detail than most of
the earlier incidents, but whatever is referred to is treated, we hope,
with such simplicity and definiteness of statement that it will be
comprehensible and instructive to pupils of the sixth grade.
At the close of the book will be found a list of references. From this
teachers may draw a rich variety of stories and descriptions to
illustrate any features of the subject which especially interest their
classes. In the index is given the pronunciation of difficult names.
We wish to express gratitude to those who have aided us with wise advice
[Footnote 1: The Study of History in Elementary Schools. Scribner's,
I. THE SCATTERED CHILDREN OF EUROPE
II. OUR EARLIEST TEACHERS
III. HOW THE GREEKS LIVED
IV. GREEK EMIGRANTS OR COLONISTS
V. NEW RIVALS OF THE GREEKS
VI. THE MEDITERRANEAN A ROMAN LAKE
VII. THE ANCIENT WORLD EXTENDED TO THE SHORES OF THE ATLANTIC
VIII. THE CIVILIZATION OF THE ROMAN WORLD
IX. CHRISTIANITY AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE
X. EMIGRANTS A THOUSAND YEARS AGO
XI. HOW ENGLISHMEN LEARNED TO GOVERN THEMSELVES
XII. THE CIVILIZATION OF THE MIDDLE AGES
XIII. TRADERS, TRAVELERS, AND EXPLORERS IN THE LATER MIDDLE AGES
XIV. THE DISCOVERY OF A NEW WORLD
XV. OTHERS HELP IN THE DISCOVERY OF THE NEW WORLD
XVI. EARLY SPANISH EXPLORERS AND CONQUERORS OF THE MAINLAND
XVII. THE SPANISH EXPLORERS OF NORTH AMERICA
XVIII. RIVALRY AND STRIFE IN EUROPE
XIX. FIRST FRENCH ATTEMPTS TO SETTLE AMERICA
XX. THE ENGLISH AND THE DUTCH TRIUMPH OVER SPAIN
XXI. THE ENGLISH PEOPLE ATTEMPT TO SETTLE AMERICA
REFERENCES FOR TEACHERS
INDEX AND PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY
INTRODUCTORY AMERICAN HISTORY
THE SCATTERED CHILDREN OF EUROPE
THE EMIGRANT AND WHAT HE BRINGS TO AMERICA. The emigrant who lands
at New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or any other seaport, brings with
him something which we do not see. He may have in his hands only a
small bundle of clothing and enough money to pay his railroad fare to
his new home, but he is carrying another kind of baggage more valuable
than bundles or boxes or a pocket full of silver or gold. This other
baggage is the knowledge, the customs, and the memories he has brought
from the fatherland.
He has already learned in Europe how to do the work at which he hopes
to labor in America. In his native land he has been taught to obey the
laws and to do his duty as a citizen. This fits him to share in our
self-government. He also brings great memories, for he likes to think
of the brave and noble deeds done by men of his race. If he is a
religious man, he worships God just as his forefathers have for
hundreds of years. To understand how the emigrant happens to know what
he does and to be what he is, we must study the history of the country
from which he comes.
ALL AMERICANS ARE EMIGRANTS. If this is true of the newcomer, it is
equally true of the rest of us, for we are all emigrants. The Indians
are the only native Americans, and when we find out more about them we
may learn that they, too, are emigrants. If we follow the history of
our families far enough back, we shall come upon the names of our
forefathers who sailed from Europe. They may have come to America in
the early days when there were only a few settlements scattered along
our Atlantic coast, or they may have come since the Revolutionary War
changed the English colonies into the United States.
Like the Canadians, the South Americans, and the Australians, we are
simply Europeans who have moved away. The story of the Europe in which
our forefathers lived is, therefore, part of our story. In order to
understand our own history we must know something of the history of
England, France, Germany, Italy, and other European lands.
WHAT THE EARLY EMIGRANTS BROUGHT. If we read the story of our
forefathers before they left Europe, we shall find answers to several
important questions. Why, we ask, did Columbus seek for new lands or
for new ways to lands already known? How did the people of Europe live
at the time he discovered America? What did they know how to do? Were
they skilful in all sorts of work, or were they as rude and ignorant
as the Indians on the western shores of the Atlantic?
The answers which history will give to these questions will say that
the first emigrants who landed on our shores brought with them much of
the same knowledge and many of the same customs and memories which
emigrants bring nowadays and which we also have. It is true that since
the time the first settlers came men have found out how to make many
new things. The most important of these are the steam-engine, the
electric motor, the telegraph, and the telephone. But it is surprising
how many important things, which we still use, were made before
Columbus saw America.
[Illustration: A MODERN STEAMSHIP AND AN EARLY SAILING VESSEL
The early emigrants came in small sailing vessels and suffered great
For one thing, men knew how to print books. This art had been
discovered during the boyhood of Columbus. Another thing, men could
make guns, while the Indians had only bows and arrows. The ships in
which Columbus sailed across the ocean seemed very large and wonderful
to the Indians, who used canoes. The ships were steered with the help
of a compass, an instrument which the Indians had never seen.
Some of the things which the early emigrants knew had been known
hundreds or thousands of years before. One of the oldest was the art
of writing. The way to write words or sounds was found out so long ago
that we shall never know the name of the man who first discovered it.
The historians tell us he lived in Egypt, which was in northern
Africa, exactly where Egypt is now. Some men were afraid that the new
art might do more harm than good. The king to whom the secret was told
thought that the children would be unwilling to work hard and try to
remember because everything could be written down and they would not
need to use their memories. The Egyptians at first used pictures to
put their words upon rocks or paper, and even after they made several
letters of the alphabet their writing seemed like a mixture of little
pictures and queer marks.
[Illustration: Cleopatra EGYPTIAN PHONETIC WRITING]
OLD AND NEW INVENTIONS. Those who first discover how to make things
are called inventors, and what they make are called inventions. Now if
we should write out a list of the most useful inventions, we could
place in one column the inventions which were made before the days of
Columbus and in another those which have been made since. With this
list before us we may ask which inventions we could live without and
which we could not spare unless we were willing to become like the
savages. We should find that a large number of the inventions which we
use every day belong to the set of things older than Columbus. This is
another reason why, if we wish to understand our ways of living and
working, we must ask about the history of the countries where our
forefathers lived. It is the beginning of our own history.
[Illustration: Phoenician Early Greek Early Latin English
GROWTH OF LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET]
A PLAN OF STUDY. The discovery of America was made in 1492, at the
beginning of what we call Modern Times. Before Modern Times were the
Middle Ages, lasting about a thousand years. These began three or four
hundred years after the time of Christ or what we call the beginning
of the Christian Era. All the events that took place earlier we say
happened in Ancient Times. Much that we know was learned first by the
Greeks or Romans who lived in Ancient Times.
It is in the Middle Ages that we first hear of peoples called
Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Dutchmen, Italians, Spaniards, and
many others now living in Great Britain and on the Continent of
Europe. We shall learn first of the Greeks and Romans and of what they
knew and succeeded in doing, and then shall find out how these things
were learned by the peoples of the Middle Ages and what they added to
them. This will help us to find out what our forefathers started with
when they came to live in America.
1. What does the emigrant from Europe bring to America besides his
2. Why are all Americans emigrants?
3. What did the earliest emigrants from Europe to America bring with
4. Which do you think the more useful invention--the telephone or
the art of writing? Who invented this art? Find Egypt on the map.
How did Egyptian writing look?
5. Why was it a help to Columbus that gunpowder and guns were
invented before he discovered America?
6. When did the Christian Era begin? What is meant by Ancient Times?
By the Middle Ages? By Modern Times? In what Times was the art of
writing invented? In what Times was the compass invented? In what
Times was the telephone invented?
1. Collect from illustrated papers, magazines, or advertising
folders, pictures of ocean steamships. Collect pictures of sailing
ships, ships used now and those used long ago.
2. Collect from persons who have recently come to this country
stories of how they traveled from Europe to America, and from ports
like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia to where they now live.
3. Let each boy and girl in the schoolroom point out on the map the
European country from which his parents or his grandparents or his
4. Let each boy and girl make a list of the holidays which his
forefathers had in the "fatherland" or "mother country." Let each
find out the manner in which the holidays were kept. Let each tell
the most interesting hero story from among the stories of the mother
country or fatherland. Let each find out whether the tools used in
the old home were like the tools his parents use here.
OUR EARLIEST TEACHERS
ANCIENT CITIES THAT STILL EXIST. In Ancient Times the most
important peoples lived on the shores of the Mediterranean. The
northern shore turns and twists around four peninsulas. The first is
Spain, which separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean;
the second, shaped like a boot, is Italy; and the third, the end of
which looks like a mulberry leaf, is Greece. Beyond Greece is Asia
Minor, the part of Asia which lies between the Mediterranean Sea and
the Black Sea.
The Italians now live in Italy, but the Romans lived there in Ancient
Times. The people who live in Greece are called Greeks, just as they
were more than two thousand years ago. Many of the cities that the
Greeks and Romans built are still standing. Alexandria was founded by
the great conqueror Alexander. Constantinople used to be the Greek
city of Byzantium. Another Greek city, Massilia, has become the modern
French city of Marseilles. Rome had the same name in Ancient Times,
except that it was spelled Roma. The Romans called Paris by the name
of Lutetia, and London they called Lugdunum.
RUINS WHICH SHOW HOW THE ANCIENTS LIVED. In many of these cities
are ancient buildings or ruins of buildings, bits of carving, vases,
mosaics, sometimes even wall paintings, which we may see and from
which we may learn how the Greeks and Romans lived. Near Naples are
the ruins of Pompeii, a Roman city suddenly destroyed during an
eruption of the volcano Vesuvius.
For hundreds of years the city lay buried under fifteen or twenty feet
of ashes. When these were taken away, the old streets and the walls of
the houses could be seen. No roofs were left and the walls in many
places were only partly standing, but things which in other ancient
cities had entirely disappeared were kept safe in Pompeii under the
The traveler who walks to-day along the ruined streets can see how its
inhabitants lived two thousand years ago. He can visit their public
buildings and their private houses, can handle their dishes and can
look at the paintings on their walls or the mosaics in the floors. But
interesting as Pompeii is, we must not think that its ruins teach us
more than the ruins of Rome or Athens or many other ancient cities.
Each has something important to tell us of the people who lived long
ANCIENT WORDS STILL IN USE. The ancient Greeks and Romans have left
us some things more useful than the ruins of their buildings. These
are the words in our language which once were theirs, and which we use
with slight changes in spelling. Most of our words came in the
beginning from Germany, where our English forefathers lived before
they settled in England. To the words they took over from Germany they
added words borrowed from other peoples, just as we do now. We have
recently borrowed several words from the French, such as tonneau and
limousine, words used to describe parts of an automobile, besides the
name automobile itself, which is made up of a Latin and a Greek word.
[Illustration: RUINS OF A HOUSE AT POMPEII The houses of the
better sort were built with an open court in the center]
In this way, for hundreds of years, words have been coming into our
language from other languages. Several thousand have come from Latin,
the language of the Romans; several hundred from Greek, either
directly or passed on to us by the Romans or the French. The word
school is Greek, and the word arithmetic was borrowed from the French,
who took it from the Greeks. Geography is another word which came,
through French and Latin, from the Greeks, to whom it meant that which
is written about the earth. The word grammar came in the same way. The
word alphabet is made by joining together the names of the first two
Greek letters, alpha and beta.
Many words about religion are borrowed from the Greeks, and this is
not strange, for the New Testament was written in Greek. Some of these
are Bible, church, bishop, choir, angel, devil, apostle, and martyr.
The Greeks have handed down to us many words about government,
including the word itself, which in the beginning meant "to steer."
Politics meant having to do with a _polis_ or city. Several of the
words most recently made up of Greek words are telegraph, telephone,
phonograph, and thermometer.
MANY WORDS BORROWED FROM THE ROMANS. Nearly ten times as many of
our words are borrowed from the Romans as from the Greeks, and it is
not strange, because at one time the Romans ruled over all the country
now occupied by the Italians, the French, the Spaniards, a part of the
Germans, and the English, so that these peoples naturally learned the
words used by their conquerors and governors.
INTERESTING ANCIENT STORIES. In the poems and tales which we learn
at home or at school are stories which Greek and Roman parents and
teachers taught their children many hundred years ago. We learn them
partly because they are interesting, and because they please or amuse
us, and partly because they appear so often in our books that it is
necessary to know them if we would understand our own books and
language. Who has not heard of Hercules and his Labors, of the Search
for the Golden Fleece, the Siege of Troy, or the Wanderings of
Ulysses? We love modern fairy stories and tales of adventure, but they
are not more pleasing than these ancient stories.
[Illustration: THE PLAIN OF MARATHON]
THE STORY OF THE GREEKS. Our language and our books are full of
memories of Greek and Roman deeds of courage. The story of the Greeks
comes before the story of the Romans, for the Greeks were living in
beautiful cities, with temples and theaters, while the Romans were
still an almost unknown people dwelling on the hills that border the
MEMORIES OF GREEK COURAGE. The most heroic deeds of the Greeks took
place in a great war between the Greek cities and the kingdom of
Persia about five hundred years before Christ. In those days there was
no kingdom called Greece, such as the geographies now describe.
Instead there were cities, a few of which were ruled by kings, others
by the citizens themselves. These cities banded together when any
danger threatened them. Sometimes one city turned traitor and helped
the enemy against the others. The most dangerous enemy the Greeks had,
until the Romans attacked them, was the kingdom of Persia, which
stretched from the Aegean Sea far into Asia. In the war with the
Persians the Greeks fought three famous battles, at Marathon,
Thermopylae, and Salamis, the stories of which men have always liked
to hear and remember.
PREPARING FOR MARATHON, 490 B.C. To the Athenians belong the
glories of Marathon. They lived where the modern city of Athens now
stands. The ruins of their temples and theaters still attract students
and travelers to Greece. The plain of Marathon lay more than twenty
miles to the northeast, and the roads to it led through mountain
passes. When the Athenians heard that the hosts of the Great King of
Persia were approaching, they sent a runner, Pheidippides by name, to
ask aid of Sparta, a city one hundred and forty miles away, in the
peninsula now called the Morea, where dwelt the sturdiest fighters of
Greece. This runner reached Sparta on the second day, but the Spartans
said it would be against their religious custom to march before the
moon was full. The Athenians saw that they must meet the enemy
alone--one small city against a mighty empire. They called their ten
thousand men together and set out. On the way they were joined by a
thousand more, the whole army of the brave little town of Plataea.
[Illustration: GREEK SOLDIERS IN ARMS From a Greek vase of
about the time of the battle of Marathon]
HOW THE ATHENIANS WERE ARMED. Although the Persians had six times
as many soldiers as the Athenians, they were not so well armed for
hand to hand fighting. Their principal weapon was the bow and arrow,
while the Greeks used the lance and a short sword. The Greek soldier
was protected by his bronze helmet, solid across the forehead and over
the nose; by his breastplate, a leathern or linen tunic covered with
small metal scales, with flaps hanging below his hips; and by greaves
or pieces of metal in front of his knees and shins. He was also
protected by a shield, often long enough to reach from his face to his
knees. According to a strange custom the Athenians were led by ten
generals, each commanding one day in turn.
THE BATTLE-GROUND. Marathon was a plain about two miles wide, lying
between the mountains and the sea. From it two roads ran toward
Athens, one along the shore where the hills almost reached the sea,
the other up a narrow valley and over the mountains. The Athenians
were encamped in this valley, where they could attack the Persians if
they tried to follow the shore road.
The Persians landed from their ships and filled the plain near the
shore. They wanted to fight in the open plain because they had so many
more soldiers than the Athenians and because they meant to use their
horsemen. For some time the Athenians watched the Persians, not
knowing what it was best to do. Half the generals did not wish to risk
a battle, but Miltiades was eager to fight, for he feared that delay
would lead timid citizens or traitors to yield to the Persians. He
finally gained his wish, and on his day of command the battle was
THE BATTLE. The Persians by this time had decided to sail around to
the harbor of Athens and had taken their horsemen on board their
ships. When they saw the Greeks coming they drew up their
foot-soldiers in deep masses. The Athenians and their comrades--the
Plataeans--soon began to move forward on the run. The Persians thought
this madness, because the Greeks had no archers or horsemen. But the
Greeks saw that if they moved forward slowly the Persians would have
time to shoot arrows at them again and again.
When the Greeks rushed upon the Persians the soldiers at the two ends
of the Persian line gave way and fled towards the shore. In the
center, where the best Persian soldiers stood, the Greeks were not at
first successful, and were forced to retreat. But those who had been
victorious came to their rescue, attacked the Persians in the rear,
and finally drove them off. The Persians ran into the sea to reach the
ships, and the Athenians followed them. Some of the Greeks were so
eager in the fight that they seized the sides of the ships and tried
to keep them from being rowed away, but the Persians cut at their
hands and made them let go.
[Illustration: THE STRAITS OF SALAMIS Where a great sea-fight
between Greeks and Persians took place]
THE NEWS OF THE VICTORY. The Athenians had won a victory of which
they were so proud that they meant it never should be forgotten. Their
city had suddenly become great through the courage and self-sacrifice
of her citizens. One hundred and ninety-two Greeks had fallen, and on
the battle-field their comrades raised over their bodies a mound of
earth which still marks their tomb. The victors sent the runner
Pheidippides to bear the news to Athens. Over the hills he ran until
he reached the market place, and there, with the message of triumph on
his lips, he fell dead.
OTHER VICTORIES OF THE GREEKS. Marathon was only the beginning of
Greek victories over the Persians, only the first struggle in the long
wars between Europe and Asia. Ten years after Marathon the Spartans
won everlasting glory by their heroic stand at the Pass of Thermopylae
--three hundred Greeks against the mighty army of the Persian king
Xerxes. The barbarian hordes passed over their bodies, took the road
to Athens, burned the city, but were soon beaten in the sea-fight
which took place on the waters lying between the mainland of Athenian
territory and the island of Salamis. This victory was also due to
Athenian courage and leadership, for the Athenians and their leader,
Themistocles, were resolved to stay and fight, although the other
Greeks wanted to sail away.
WHY MARATHON IS REMEMBERED. The victories of Marathon and Salamis
were great not only because small armies of Greeks put to flight the
hosts of Persia, they were great because they saved the independence
of Greece. If the Greeks had become the subjects and slaves of Persia,
they would not have built the wonderful buildings, or carved the
beautiful statues, or written the books which we study and admire.
When we think of the Greeks as our first teachers we feel as proud of
their victories as if they were our own victories.
THE WARS OF THE GREEK CITIES. The Athenians had done the most in
winning the victory over the Persians, and therefore Athens was for
many years the most powerful city in Greece. The Spartans were always
jealous of the Athenians, and in less than a century after the victory
of Marathon they conquered and humbled Athens. The worst faults of the
Greeks were such jealousies and the desire to lord it over one
another. Greek history is full of wars of city against city, Sparta
against Athens, Corinth against Athens, and Thebes against Sparta. In
these wars many heroic deeds were done, of which we like to read, but
it is more important for us to understand how the Greeks lived.
1. What ancient cities still exist? Find them on the map.
(For each difficult name find the pronunciation in the index.)
2. What things do we find in the ruins of ancient cities which tell
us how the people lived?
3. From what country did most of our words come in the beginning?
Why are they now called English? What peoples used the word
geography before we did? About how many words do we get from the
Greeks, and how many from the Romans?
4. Which people became famous earlier, the Greeks or the Romans?
Point out on the map the peninsula where each lived.
5. Why do we like to remember the brave deeds of the Greeks?
6. Find the city of Athens on the map. Find Sparta. Where
was Marathon? What city won glory at Marathon?
7. What were the worst faults of the Greeks?
1. Collect pictures of ruined cities in Italy, Greece, and Asia
Minor, from illustrated papers, magazines, or advertising folders.
Collect postal cards giving such pictures.
2. Choose the best one of the Greek stories mentioned in Chapter II,
and tell it.
3. Find out how differently soldiers now are clothed and armed from
the way the Greek soldiers were.
4. Find out why a long distance run is now called a "Marathon."
HOW THE GREEKS LIVED
THE GREEK CITIES. The Greeks lived in cities so much of the time that
we do not often think of them as ever living in the country. The
reason for this was that their government and everything else
important was carried on in the city. The cities were usually
surrounded by high, thick stone walls, which made them safe from
sudden attack. Within or beside the city there was often a lofty hill,
which we should call a fort or citadel, but which they called the
upper city or acropolis. There the people lived at first when they
were few in number, and thither they fled if the walls of their city
were broken down by enemies.
In Athens such a hill rose two hundred feet above the plain. Its top
was a thousand feet long, and all the sides except one were steep
cliffs. On it the Athenians built their most beautiful temples.
PRIVATE HOUSES. Unlike people nowadays the Greeks did not spend much
money on their dwelling-houses. To us these houses would seem small,
badly ventilated, and very uncomfortable. But what their houses lacked
was more than made up by the beauty and splendor of the public
buildings, halls, theaters, porticoes, and especially the temples.
TEMPLES. The temples were not intended to hold hundreds of worshipers
like the large churches of Europe and America to-day. Religious
ceremonies were most often carried on in the open air. The Parthenon,
the most famous temple of Ancient Times, was small. Its principal room
measured less than one hundred feet in length. Part of this room was
used for an altar and for the ivory and gold statue of the goddess
[Illustration: THE ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS AS IT IS TO-DAY]
THE PARTHENON. In a picture of the Parthenon, or of a similar temple,
we notice the columns in front and along the sides. The Parthenon had
eight at each end and seventeen on each side. They were thirty-four
feet high. A few feet within the columns on the sides was the wall of
the temple. Before the vestibule and entrances at the front and at the
rear stood six more columns. The beauty of the marble from which
stones and columns were cut might have seemed enough, but the builders
carved groups of figures in the three-cornered space (called the
pediment) in front between the roof and the stones resting upon the
columns. The upper rows of stones beneath the roof and above the
columns were also carved, and continuous carvings (called a frieze)
ran around the top of the temple wall on the outside. The temple was
not left a glistening white, but parts of it were painted in blue, or
red, or gilt, or orange.
[Illustration: THE TOP OF THE ACROPOLIS 2000 YEARS AGO The
Parthenon is the large temple on the right]
OTHER GREEK TEMPLES. This beautiful temple is now partly ruined. Ruins
of other temples are on the Acropolis, and one better preserved,
called the Theseum, stands on a lower hill. There are also similar
ruins in many places along the shores of the Mediterranean. The most
interesting are at Paestum in Italy, and at Girgenti in Sicily. Long
before these temples were ruined they had taught the Romans how to
construct one of the most beautiful kinds of buildings, and this the
Romans later taught the peoples of western Europe.
GREEK METHODS OF BUILDING STILL USED. If we look at our large
buildings, we shall see much to remind us of the Greek buildings.
Sometimes the exact form of the Greek building is imitated; sometimes
this form is changed as the Romans changed it, or as it was changed by
builders who lived after the time of the Romans. If the model of the
whole building is not used, there are similar pillars, or gables, or
the sculpture in the pediment and the frieze is imitated. The Greeks
had three kinds of pillars, named Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The
Doric is simple and solid, the Ionic shows in its capital, or top,
delicate and beautiful curves, while the Corinthian is adorned with
leaves springing gracefully from the top of the pillar.
[Illustration: Doric Ionic Corinthian GREEK ORDERS OF
[Illustration: RUINS OF THE GREEK THEATER AT EPIDAURUS]
THEATERS. The first Greek theater was only a smooth open space near a
hillside, with a tent, called a _skené_, or scene, in which the
actors dressed. Later an amphitheater of stone seats was constructed
on the hillside, and across the open end was placed the _scene_,
which had been changed into a stone building. On its front sometimes a
house or a palace was painted, just as nowadays theaters are furnished
with painted scenery. In these open-air theaters thousands of people
gathered. Plays were generally given as a part of religious festivals,
and there were contests between writers to see which could produce the
best play. Sometimes the plays followed one another for three days
from morning until night. Many of them are so interesting that people
still read them, after twenty-five hundred years. The Romans studied
them, and so do modern men who are preparing themselves to write
[Illustration: THE MODERN STADIUM AT ATHENS]
THE STADIUM. A building which somewhat resembled the theater was the
stadium, where races were run. The difference was that it was oblong
instead of half round. The most famous stadium, at Olympia, was seven
hundred and two feet long, with raised seats on both sides and around
one end of the running track. The other end was open. About fifty
thousand persons used to gather there to watch the races.
PORTICOES. There were other buildings, some for meeting places, some
for gymnasiums, and still others called porticoes, where the judges
held court or the city officers carried on their business. The
porticoes were simply rows of columns, roofed over, with occasionally
a second story. As they stretched along the sides of a square or
market place they added much to the beauty of a city.
GREEK SCULPTURE. We know that the Greeks were skilful sculptors
because from the ruins of their cities have been dug wonderful marble
and bronze statues which are now preserved in the great museums of the
world, in Paris, London, Berlin, and Rome, and here in America, in New
York and Boston. Museums which cannot have the original statues
usually contain copies or casts of them in plaster. The statues are
generally marred and broken, but enough remains to show us the
wonderful beauty of the artist's work. Among the most famous are the
Venus, of Melos (or "de Milo"), which stands in a special room in a
museum called the Louvre in Paris; the Hermes in the museum of Olympia
in Greece; and the figures from the Parthenon in the British Museum in
[Illustration: THE DISCUS-THROWER (DISCOBOLOS) An ancient
Greek statue now in the Vatican]
Artists nowadays, like the Roman artists long ago, study the Greek
statues and the Greek sculpture, in order that they may learn how such
beautiful things can be made. They do not hope to excel the Greeks,
but are content to remain their pupils.
PAINTING AND POTTERY. The Greeks were also painters, makers of
pottery, and workers in gold and silver. Many pieces of their
workmanship have been discovered by those who have dug in the ruins of
ancient buildings and tombs.
[Illustration: A GREEK BOOK The upper picture, shows the book
WHAT THE BOYS WERE TAUGHT. The Greek boys were not very good at
arithmetic, and even grown men used counting boards or their fingers
to help them in reckoning. In learning to write they smeared a thin
layer of wax over a board and marked on that. There was a kind of
paper called papyrus, made from a reed which grew mostly in Egypt, but
this was expensive. Rolls were made of sheets of it pasted together,
and these were their books. One of the books the boys studied much was
the poems of Homer--the Iliad and the Odyssey--which tell about the
siege of Troy and the wanderings of Ulysses. Boys often learned these
long poems by heart. They also stored away in their memories the
sayings of other poets and wise men, so that they could generally know
what to think, having with them so many good and wise thoughts put in
such excellent words.
GAMES AND EXERCISES FOR BOYS. It is not surprising that Greek boys
knew how to play, but it is surprising that they played many of the
games which boys play now, such as hide-and-seek, tug of war, ducks
and drakes, and blind man's buff. They even "pitched pennies." In
school the boys were taught not only to read and write, but to be
skilful athletes, and to play on the lyre, accompanying this with
singing. The gymnasium was often an open space near a stream into
which they could plunge after their exercises were over. They were
taught to box, to wrestle, to throw the discus, and to hurl the spear.
Military training was important for them, since all might be called to
fight for the safety of their city.
THE OLYMPIC GAMES. Boys and young men were trained as runners,
wrestlers, boxers, and discus throwers, not only because they enjoyed
these exercises and the Greeks thought them an important part of
education, but also that they might bring back honors and prizes to
their city from the great games which all the Greeks held every few
years. The most famous of these games were held at Olympia. There the
Greeks went from all parts of the country, carrying their tents and
cooking utensils with them, because there were not enough houses in
Olympia to hold so many people. Wars even were stopped for a time in
order that the games might not be postponed.
THE REWARDS OF THE VICTORS. The principal contest was a dash for two
hundred yards, although there were longer races and many other kinds
of contests. Unfortunately the Greeks liked to see the most brutal
sort of boxing, in which the boxer's hands and arms were covered with
heavy strips of leather stiffened with pieces of iron or lead. For the
games men trained ten months, part of the time at Olympia. The prize
was a crown of wild olive, and the winner returned in triumph to his
city, where poets sang his praises, a special seat at public games was
reserved for him, and often artists were employed to make a bronze
statue of him to be set up in Olympia or in his own city.
[Illustration: GREEK GAMES--RUNNING From an antique vase]
THE GOVERNMENT OF ATHENS. The citizen of Athens, and of other Greek
cities, had more to do with his government than do most Americans with
theirs. As nearly all work was done by slaves, he had plenty of time
to attend meetings. All the citizens could attend the great assembly,
or _ecclesia_, where six thousand at least must be present before
anything could be decided. By this assembly foreigners might be
admitted to citizenship or citizens might be expelled, or ostracized,
from Athens as hurtful to its welfare.
There was a smaller council of five hundred which decided less
important questions without laying them before the general assembly.
This body was chosen by lot just as our juries are, but members of the
council whose term had ended had a right to object to any new member
as an unworthy citizen A tenth of the council ruled for a tenth of the
year, and they chose their president by lot every day, so that any
worthy man at Athens had a chance to be president for a day and a
[Illustration: A DECREE OF THE COUNCIL--ABOUT 450 B.C.]
Many citizens also served in the courts, for there were six thousand
judges, and in deciding important cases as many as a thousand and one,
or even fifteen hundred and one, took part. Before such large courts
and assemblies it was necessary to be a good speaker to be able to win
a case or persuade the citizens. Some of the greatest orators of the
world were Athenians, the best known being Demosthenes.
SOCRATES. The Athenians were not always just, although so many of them
acted as judges. One court, composed of five hundred and one judges,
condemned to death Socrates, the wisest man of the Greeks and one of
the wisest in the world. He did not make speeches, or write books, or
teach in school. He went about, in the market place, at the gymnasium,
and on the streets, asking men, young and old, questions about what
interested him most, that is, What is the true way to live? If people
did not give him an answer which seemed good, he asked more questions,
until sometimes they went away angry. Many of them thought because he
asked questions about everything that he did not believe in anything,
not even in the religion of his city.
[Illustration: SOCRATES After the marble bust in the Vatican]
THE DEATH OF SOCRATES, 399 B.C. After a while the enemies of Socrates
accused him of being a wicked man who persuaded young men to be
wicked. He was tried by an Athenian court, which made the terrible
blunder of finding him guilty and condemning him to death. According
to the Athenian custom he was obliged to drink a cup of poisonous
hemlock. This he did, after talking to his friends cheerily about how
a good man should live. As he wrote no books we have learned about him
from his friends. The most famous of these was Plato, who is also
counted among the wisest men that ever lived. The story of the lives
of these men is another gift which the Greeks made to all who were to
live after them, and it is quite as valuable as are the ways of
building, artistic skill, or great poems and plays.
1. Why do we wish to know how the Greeks lived?
2. What was an Acropolis? How does the Acropolis at Athens look?
3. On the picture of the Parthenon point out the pediment. Show
where the frieze was placed. Find on a map Paestum.
4. What did the Greeks first mean by a _scene_? Why do we still
study Greek plays? What is left of the Greek theaters?
5. What was a stadium, a portico, a gymnasium? Do we have such
6. How do we know that the Greeks made beautiful statues?
7. What games for Greek boys were like our games? Tell about the
great public games of the Greeks.
8. How were the Greek rolls or books made?
9. Tell the story of Socrates.
1. Are there any buildings in your town which are like Greek
2. Find in your town Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.
3. Get from a wall-paper dealer a sample of a frieze for a papered
4. What is the difference between the government of Athens and the
government of your town?
5. What is the difference between the courts at Athens and the
courts in your town?
6. Are Olympic games held now? Where?
7. Which prizes would you prefer, the prizes given to winners at
Greek games or the prizes given to winners in our athletic games?
GREEK EMIGRANTS OR COLONISTS
WHEN THE ATLANTIC WAS UNKNOWN. One of the most important things
done by the men of Ancient Times was to explore the coasts and lands of
Europe and to make settlements wherever they went. At first they knew
little of the western and northern parts of Europe. Herodotus, a Greek
whom we call the "Father of History," and who was a great traveler,
said, "Though I have taken vast pains, I have never been able to get an
assurance from any eye-witness that there is any sea on the further side
of Europe." By the "further side" he meant "western," and his remark
shows that he did not know of the Atlantic Ocean. He understood that tin
and amber came from the "Tin Islands," which he called the "ends of the
earth." As tin came from England, it is plain that he had heard a little
of that island.
[Illustration: MAP OF THE WORLD AS DESCRIBED BY THE GREEK
GREEK EMIGRANTS. Long before Athens became a great and beautiful
city the Greeks had begun to make settlements on distant shores. Those
who lived on the western coast of Asia Minor, as well as those who lived
where the kingdom of Greece is now, sent out colonists or emigrants. The
Greek colonies were very important, because by them the ancient
civilized world was made larger, just as by the settlement of America
the modern world was doubled in size. The colonists sailed away from
home for the same reasons which led our forefathers to leave England and
Europe for America. They either hoped to find it easier in a new land to
make a living and obtain property, or they did not like the way their
city was ruled, and being unable to change this, resolved to build
elsewhere a city which they could manage as they pleased.
HOW THEY LOCATED A NEW CITY. There were several different lands to
which they could go, just as the European of to-day may sail for the
United States or South America or Australia. They could attempt to
settle on the shores of the Black Sea, or cross over to northern Africa,
or try to reach Italy and the more distant coasts of what are now France
and Spain. In order to choose wisely, they generally asked the advice of
the priests of their god Apollo at his temple at Delphi. These priests
knew more about good places for settlements than most other persons,
because travelers from everywhere came to Delphi and the priests were
wise enough to inquire about all parts of the world.
[Illustration: _The territory occupied by the Greeks is
indicated by solid black_]
The story is told that one group of emigrants was advised to locate
their new colony opposite the "city of the blind." They discovered that
these words meant that an earlier band of emigrants had passed by the
wonderful harbor of the present city of Constantinople and had settled
instead on the other shore of the Bosphorus. Taught by the oracle they
chose the better place and began to build the city of Byzantium, which
later became Constantinople.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER CITIES. Solemn ceremonies took place when
colonists departed. They carried with them fire from the hearth of the
mother city in order to light a similar fire on their new hearth, for
every city had its hearthstone and on it a fire that was never quenched.
The ties between the mother and the daughter city were close, and the
enemies of one were the enemies of the other. He who wished to visit the
colony usually went to the mother city to find a ship bound thither.
WHERE THE SETTLEMENTS WERE MADE. When the Greek sailors first
entered the Black Sea, they thought it a boundless ocean, and called it
the Pontus, a word which means "The Main." Until that time they had been
accustomed to sail only from island to island in the Aegean Sea. After a
while they made settlements all around the shores of the Black Sea, and
in later times Athens drew from this region her supply of grain. Still
more important settlements were made in Sicily and southern Italy, for
it was through these settlements that some of the things the Greeks
knew, like the art of writing, were taught to the Italian tribes and to
DANGERS OF THE VOYAGE. At first Greek sailors feared the dangers of the
western Mediterranean as much as those of the Black Sea. They imagined
that the huge, misshapen, and dreadful monsters Scylla and Charybdis
lurked in the Straits of Messina waiting to seize and swallow the
unlucky passer-by. On the slopes of Mount Aetna dwelt, they thought,
hideous, one-eyed giants, the Cyclops, who fed their fierce appetites
with the quivering flesh of many captives.
[Illustration: GREEK RUINS AT PAESTUM IN ITALY]
GREEKS IN THE WEST. The earliest settlement of the Greeks in Italy
was at Cumae, on a headland at the entrance of the Bay of Naples. Later
these colonists entered the bay and founded the "new city," or Neapolis,
which we call Naples. Finally there were so many Greek cities in
southern Italy that it was named "Great Greece." The Greeks also made
settlements in what is now southern France and eastern Spain. The
principal one was Massilia, or Marseilles. Through the traders of this
city the ancient world obtained a supply of tin from Britain, a country
which is now called England.
GREEK COLONIES AS CENTERS OF CIVILIZATION. The Greeks in these
colonies traded with the natives whose villages were near by, and many
of the natives learned to live like the Greeks. In this way the Greeks
became teachers of civilization, and the Greek world, which at first was
made up of cities on the shores of the Aegean Sea, was spread from place
to place along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
[Illustration: A GREEK TRIREME]
GREEK SHIPS. The ships of the Greeks were very different from
modern vessels. Of course they were not driven by steam, nor did they
rely as much on sails as modern sailing ships do. They had sails, but
were driven forward mostly by their oars. The trireme, or ordinary
war-ship, had its oars arranged in three banks, fifty men rowing at
once. After these had rowed several hours, or a "watch," another fifty
took their places, and finally a third fifty, so that the ships could be
rowed at high speed all the time. With the aid of its two sails a
trireme is said to have gone one hundred and fifty miles in a day and a
night. These boats were about one hundred and twenty feet long and
fifteen feet wide. They could be rowed in shallow water, but were not
high enough to ride heavy seas safely. They had a sharp beak, which,
driven against an enemy's ship, would break in its sides. The Greek
grain ships and freight boats were heavier and more capable of enduring
[Illustration: ALEXANDER THE GREAT After the bust in the
Capitoline Museum, Rome]
ALEXANDER THE GREAT, KING OF MACEDON FROM 336 TO 323 B.C. Greek
ways of living were also carried eastward as well as westward. The
enlargement of the Greek world in this direction was due to Alexander
the Great, the most skilful soldier and the ablest leader of men among
all the Greeks. Alexander was king of Macedon, and like the earlier
Greeks he regarded the Persians as his enemies, and made war upon them.
After conquering the Persians he marched across western Asia until he
had reached the Indus River in India. He was a builder of cities as well
as a conqueror. He founded seventy cities, and sixteen of them were
named for him. The most important was the Alexandria which is still the
chief seaport of Egypt. Greek became the language commonly spoken
throughout the lands near the eastern Mediterranean. This is the reason
why in later times the New Testament was written in Greek.
ALEXANDRIA. Of this Greek world Athens ceased to be the center and
Alexandria took its place. At Alexandria there was a great library which
contained over five hundred thousand volumes or rolls. There also was
the museum or university, in which many learned men were at work. The
best known of these men was Euclid, who perfected the mathematics which
we call geometry, and Ptolemy, whose ideas about geography and the shape
and size of the globe Columbus carefully studied before he set out on
his great voyage. Alexandria was also a center of trade and commerce.
From Alexandria, because its ships were the first foreign ships to be
admitted to a Roman port, the Romans gained their liking for many of the
beautiful things which the Greeks made.
1. Why were the Greek colonies important? Why did the Greeks
emigrate to the colonies?
2. Point out on the map, the lands to which they might go.
Name several cities which they built.
3. What were the ties between the daughter and the mother city?
4. Why was a part of southern Italy called Great Greece?
5. Describe a Greek trireme and the way it was managed.
6. Of what country was Alexander the Great king? When did he reign?
How far east did he march? What did he do besides winning victories?
7. Why was the city of Alexandria famous in Ancient Times?
8. Of what help was Ptolemy to Columbus?
1. Find out the colonies we have. For what purpose do Americans go
to these colonies? Is it as hard to reach them as it was for the
Greeks to reach their colonies?
2. What country now has the most colonies?
3. Learn and tell the story of Ulysses and the Cyclops.
4. Find out what is meant at Constantinople by "the Golden Horn?"
Who now live at Constantinople, at Naples, at Marseilles?
5. Collect pictures of these cities.
(Chapters II, III, and IV)
_Ten things we owe to the Greeks_:
1. Many useful words.
2. Many interesting tales.
3. Many examples of heroism.
4. Knowledge of how to construct beautiful buildings.
5. How to carve beautiful statues, reliefs, and friezes.
6. How to write great plays.
7. How to speak before large audiences.
8. Wise sayings of men like Socrates and Plato.
9. Knowledge of geography and mathematics.
10. Their work as colonists in teaching other peoples to live, and
think and act as they did.
_Two important dates_:
Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C. Death of Alexander the Great, 323 B.C.
NEW RIVALS OF THE GREEKS
THE GREEK COLONIES AND THE CARTHAGINIANS. The Greek colonies were
sometimes in danger of being attacked by the native tribes whose lands
they had seized or by the wilder tribes that dwelt further from the
coast. In Sicily their most dangerous neighbors were the Carthaginians
at the western end of the island. The chief town of these people was
Carthage, situated opposite Sicily in northern Africa in what is now
Tunis. The Carthaginians were emigrants from Tyre and other cities of
Phoenicia on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and because of
their many ships held control of a large part of the western
Mediterranean. They had colonies even in Spain, where in very early
times Phoenician traders had gone to obtain gold and silver.
THE GREEKS AND THE ROMANS. In Italy the most dangerous neighbors of
the Greek colonists were the Romans, who lived half-way up the western
side of the peninsula along the river Tiber. The history of the Romans,
like the history of the Greeks, is full of interesting and wonderful
tales. Some of them are legends, such as every people likes to tell
about its early history. They relate how the city was founded by two
brothers, Romulus and Remus; how Horatius defended the bridge across the
Tiber against the hosts of the exiled Tarquin king; how the farmer
Cincinnatus, having been made leader or dictator, in sixteen days drove
off the neighboring tribes which were attacking the Romans and then went
back to his plough.
THE GAULS BURN ROME, 390 B.C. The Romans told stories of their
defeats as well as of their victories. One of these tells how hosts of
Gauls, a people of the same race as the forefathers of the French,
streamed southward from the valley of the Po. The Romans were alarmed by
such tall men, with fierce eyes, and fair, flowing hair, whose swords
crashed through the frail Roman helmets. They sent a large army to stop
the invaders, but in the battle, which was fought only twelve miles from
Rome, this army was destroyed.
The few defenders that were left withdrew to the Capitoline, the
steepest of the hills over which the city had spread. Some of the older
senators and several priests scorned to seek a refuge from the fury of
the barbarians, and took their seats quietly in ivory chairs in the
market place or Forum at the foot of the Capitoline hill. The Gauls at
first gazed in wonder at the strange sight of the motionless figures.
When one of them attempted to stroke the white beard of a senator, the
senator struck him with his staff; then the Gauls fell upon senators and
priests and slew them.
[Illustration: CLIFF OF THE CAPITOLINE HILL]
The sides of the Capitoline hill were so steep that for a long time the
Gauls were baffled in their attempts to seize it. At last they
discovered a path, and one dark night were on the point of scaling the
height when some geese, sacred to the goddess Juno, cackled and flapped
their wings until the garrison was aroused and the Gauls hurled headlong
down the precipice. The garrison was saved, but the city was burned.
This happened in Rome just one hundred years after the battle of
Marathon in Greece.
THE CAUDINE FORKS. Another adventure did not have so happy an
ending. The Romans were at war with the Samnites, a tribe living on the
slopes of the Apennines, who were continually attacking the Greek cities
on the coast. The war was caused by the attempt of the Romans to protect
one of the Greek cities. The Roman generals, with a large army, in
making their way into the Samnite country attempted to march through a
narrow gorge which broadened out into a plain and then was closed again
at the farther end by another gorge. When they reached this second gorge
they found the road blocked by fallen trees and heaps of stones. They
also saw Samnites on the heights above them. In alarm they hastened to
retrace their steps, only to find the other entrance closed in the same
way. After vain attempts to force a passage or to scale the surrounding
heights they were obliged to surrender.
[Illustration: THE REGION OF THE CAUDINE FORKS]
[Illustration: ITALY BEFORE THE GROWTH OF ROMAN POWER]
The Samnites compelled the Roman army, both generals and soldiers, each
clad in a single garment, to pass "under the yoke" made of two spears
set upright with one laid across, while they stood by and jeered. If any
Roman looked angry or sullen at his disgrace, they struck or even killed
him. This was called the disaster of the Caudine Forks, from the pass
where the Romans were caught.
THE ROMANS AND THE GREEK CITIES. Not many years after this the
Romans quarreled with the Greek cities of southern Italy. The Greeks of
Tarentum, situated where Taranto is now, called to their aid Pyrrhus,
who ruled a part of Alexander's old kingdom. Pyrrhus was a skilful
general, and he had with him, besides his foot-soldiers and horsemen,
many trained elephants. A charge of these elephants was too much for the
Romans, who were already hard pressed by the long spears of the soldiers
of Pyrrhus. But the Romans were ready for another battle, and in this
they fought so stubbornly and killed so many of the Greek soldiers that
Pyrrhus cried out, "Another victory like this and we are ruined." In a
third battle, which took place 275 B.C., he was defeated, and returned
to Greece, leaving the Romans masters of the Greek cities in Italy.
THE ROMANS CONQUERORS OF ITALY. By this time there were few tribes
south of the river Po which did not own the Romans as their masters. All
Italy was united under their rule. This was the first step in the
conquest of the world that lay about the Mediterranean Sea and in the
extension of that ancient world to the shores of the Atlantic and to
England. Before we read the story of the other conquests we must inquire
who the Roman people were and how they lived.
HOW THE ROMANS LIVED. In early times most of the Romans were
farmers or cattle raisers. A man's wealth was reckoned according to the
number of cattle he owned. Their manner of living was simple and frugal.
Like the Greek, the Roman had his games. He enjoyed chariot-races, but
used slaves or freedmen as drivers. He also went to the theater,
although he thought it unworthy of a Roman to be an actor. Such an
occupation was for foreigners or slaves.
[Illustration: A ROMAN WEARING A TOGA]
ROMAN BOYS AT SCHOOL. The boys at school did not learn poems, as
did the Greek boys, but studied the first set of laws made by the
Romans, called the Twelve Tables. This they read, copied, and learned by
heart. Their interest in laws was the first sign that they were to
become the world's greatest lawmakers.
ROMAN WOMEN. In their respect for women the Romans were superior to
the Greeks. The Roman mother did not remain in the women's apartments of
the house, as she was expected to do at Athens, but was her husband's
companion, received his guests, directed her household, and went in and
out as she chose.
PATRICIANS AND PLEBEIANS. The men of the families which first ruled
Rome were called patricians or nobles, while the rest were plebeians or
common people. There were also many slaves, but they had no rights. At
first only the patricians knew exactly what the laws were, because the
laws were not written in a book. When disputes arose between patricians
and plebeians about property, the plebeians believed the patricians
changed the laws in order to gain an advantage over their poorer
The story is told that twice the plebeians withdrew from the city and
refused to return until their wrongs were removed. Then they compelled
the nobles to draw up the laws in a roll called the Twelve Tables. At
this time messengers were sent to Athens to examine the laws of the
Greeks. The richer plebeians were also gradually admitted to all the
offices of the Roman republic, and so became nobles themselves.
GOVERNMENT AT ROME. The Romans had once been ruled by kings, but
now their chief officers were consuls. Two consuls were chosen each year
because the Romans feared that a single consul might make himself a
king, or, at least, gain too much power. The real rulers of Rome,
however, were the senators, the men who had held the prominent offices.
There were assemblies of the people, but these generally did what the
senators or other officers told them to do.
Among the interesting officers of Rome was the censor, who drew up a
list or census of the citizens and of their property. Another officer
was the tribune, chosen in the beginning by the plebeians to protect
them against the patricians. The tribune was not at first a member of
the senate, but he was given a seat outside the door, and if a law was
proposed that would injure the plebeians, he cried out, "Veto," which
means "I forbid," and the law had to be dropped. This is the origin of
our word "veto."
HOW THE ROMANS TREATED THE ITALIANS. The Romans were wise in their
dealings with the cities or tribes which they conquered. They not only
sent out colonies of their fellow-citizens to occupy a part of the lands
they had seized, but they also gave the conquered peoples a share in
their government, and in some cases allowed them to act as citizens of
Rome. These new Roman citizens helped the older Romans in their wars
with other tribes. In this way Roman towns gradually spread over Italy.
[Illustration: A ROMAN MILITARY STANDARD]
1. What was the name of the dangerous neighbors of the Greeks in
Sicily? Find Carthage on the map. Where did the
Carthaginians come from originally? Find Phoenicia on the map.
2. Who were the dangerous neighbors of the Greeks in Italy? Find the
Tiber and Rome on the map.
3. Tell the story of the capture of Rome by the Gauls. How long was
this after the battle of Marathon? How long after the death of
Socrates? How long before Alexander became king of Macedon?
4. Find the land of the Samnites on the map. Tell the story
of the Caudine Forks.
5. What Greek king did the people of Tarentum call to Italy to help
them against the Romans? What did he say after his second battle
with the Romans?
6. After the defeat of Pyrrhus how much of Italy owned the Romans as
masters? How did the Romans treat the Italians?
7. Explain how the early Roman ways of living differed from the ways
of the Greeks.
8. How differently did the Romans and the Greeks govern themselves?
1. Read the story of Horatius in Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome."
2. Collect pictures of Rome and Italy.
3. Is there a modern city of Carthage? What country rules over
Tunis? Are there now any Phoenicians?
4. Read the description of Tyre in the Bible, Ezekiel xxvii. 3-25,
and tell what is said there about the riches of the Tyrians. Find
out who destroyed Tyre.
[Illustration: AN EARLY ROMAN COIN]
THE MEDITERRANEAN A ROMAN LAKE
ROME IN PERIL. The conquest of Italy by the Romans took about two
hundred and fifty years. The conquest of the peoples living in the
other lands on the shores of the Mediterranean took nearly as long
again. Only twice in these four or five hundred years was Rome in
serious danger of destruction. Once it was by the Gauls, as we have
read, who captured all the city except the citadel. The second time it
was by the Carthaginians, who lived on the northern coast of Africa.
The Romans were finally victorious over all their enemies because they
were patient and courageous in misfortune and refused to believe that
they could be conquered.
CAUSE OF WAR WITH CARTHAGE. The Carthaginians were angry at the way
the Romans treated them. They watched with alarm the steady growth of
the Roman power, and feared that the Romans, if masters of Italy,
would attack their trade with the cities of the western Mediterranean.
A quarrel broke out over a city in Sicily. At first the Carthaginians
seemed to have the best of it, because they had a strong war fleet
while the Romans had only a few small vessels. But the Romans
hurriedly built ships and placed upon each a kind of drawbridge,
fitted with great hooks called grappling-irons. These they let down
upon the enemy's decks as soon as the ships came close enough, and
over these drawbridges the Roman soldiers rushed and captured the
When the Carthaginians asked for peace, the Romans demanded a great
sum of money and a promise that the Carthaginians would leave the
cities in Sicily which they occupied. Soon afterward the Romans took
advantage of a mutiny in the Carthaginian army to demand more money
and to seize Sardinia and Corsica. No wonder the Carthaginians were
angry. The result was a new and more terrible war.
HANNIBAL. The Carthaginians in the new war were led by Hannibal, who
understood how to fight battles better than any of the generals whom
the Romans sent against him. The story is told that when he was a boy
his father made him promise, at the altar of his city's gods, undying
hatred to Rome. Even the Romans thought him a wonderful man. Their
historians said that toil did not wear out his body or exhaust his
energy. Cold or heat were alike to him. He never ate or drank more
than he needed. He slept when he had time, whether it was day or
night, wrapping himself in a military cloak and lying on the ground in
the midst of his soldiers. He did not dress better than the other
officers, but his weapons and his horses were the best in the army.
WAR CARRIED INTO ITALY, 218 B.C. Hannibal decided that the war should
be carried into Italy to the very gates of Rome. He started from
Spain, half of which the Carthaginians ruled, marched across southern
Gaul, and came to the foot-hills of the Alps. To climb the Alps was
the most difficult part of his long journey.
CROSSING THE ALPS. There were no roads across the mountains, only
rough paths used by the mountaineers, who constantly attacked
Hannibal's soldiers, bursting out suddenly upon them from behind a
turn in the trail, or rolling huge rocks upon them from above. The
elephants, the horses, and the baggage animals of the army were
frightened, and in the tumult many of them slipped over the precipices
and were dashed on the rocks below. For five days the army toiled
upward, and then rested two days on the summit of the pass.
[Illustration: THE ALPS THAT HANNIBAL HAD TO CROSS]
Although the road down into Italy was short, it was steep, and the
paths were slippery with ice and with snow trodden into slush by
thousands of men and animals. In one place there had been a landslide,
and the road along the rocky slope was cut away for a thousand feet.
In order to build a new road it was necessary to crack the rocks. This
the soldiers did by making huge fires and pouring wine over the heated
surface. At last, worn out, ragged, and half starved, the army reached
the plains of Italy, but with a loss of half its men.
HOW HANNIBAL WON A VICTORY. The first great battle with the Romans was
fought on the river Trebia in northern Italy, and in it Hannibal
showed how easily he could outwit and destroy a Roman army. It was a
winter's day and the river was swollen by rains. The two camps lay on
opposite banks. In the early morning Hannibal sent across the river a
body of horsemen to attack the Roman camp and draw the Romans into a
battle. At the same time he ordered his other soldiers to eat
breakfast, to build fires before their tents to warm themselves, and
to rub their bodies with oil, so that they might be strong for the
The Romans were suddenly roused by the attack of the Carthaginian
horsemen, and, without waiting for food, moved out of camp, chasing
the horsemen toward the river. Into its icy waters the Romans waded
breast-high, and when they came up on the opposite bank they were
benumbed with cold. As soon as Hannibal knew that the Romans had
crossed the river he attacked them fiercely with all his troops. Two
thousand men whom he had placed in ambush fell upon the rear of their
line. Their allies were frightened by a charge of elephants. Seeing
that destruction was certain, ten thousand of the best soldiers broke
through the Carthaginian line and marched away. All the rest of the
army was destroyed.
ROMAN ENDURANCE. This was not the last of the Roman defeats. Two other
armies were destroyed by Hannibal during the next two years. In the
battle of Cannae nearly seventy thousand Romans, including eighty
senators, were slain. The news filled the city with weeping women, but
the senate did not think of yielding. When their allies deserted them,
they besieged the faithless cities, took them, beheaded the rulers,
and sold the inhabitants into slavery.
They did not dare to fight Hannibal in the open field, but tried to
wear him out by cutting off all small bodies of his troops and by
making it difficult for him to get food for his army. They carried the
war into Spain and finally into Africa, and when, with a weakened
army, Hannibal faced them there, they defeated him. His defeat was the
ruin of Carthage, for the unhappy city was compelled to see her fleet
destroyed, to pay the Romans a huge sum of money, and to give up Spain
[Illustration: A ROMAN SOLDIER]
OTHER ROMAN TRIUMPHS. The war with Carthage ended two hundred and two
years before the birth of Christ. In the wars that followed, Roman
armies fought not only in Spain and Africa, but also in Greece and
Asia. Carthage was destroyed; as was also Corinth, a Greek city. Roman
generals enriched themselves and sent great treasures back to Rome.
Roman merchants grew rich because their rivals in Carthage and Corinth
were ruined or because the conquered cities were forbidden to trade
with any city but Rome. All this took a long time and many wars, but
in the end the Romans became masters of every land along the shores of
the Mediterranean. This was not wholly a misfortune, for the Romans
had learned that the Greeks were superior to them in some things and
they took the Greeks as their teachers in most of the arts of living.
The ancient world became a sort of partnership, and we call its
civilization Graeco-Roman, that is, both Greek and Roman.
THE ROMANS AS RULERS. The Romans at first treated the lands in Sicily,
Spain, Africa, Greece, and Asia as conquered territories, or
provinces, sending to rule over them officers who were to act both as
governors and judges. With these men went many tax-collectors or
"publicans." The Romans were obliged to leave in most provinces a
large body of soldiers to put down any attempt at rebellion. Often the
officers and the publicans robbed the country instead of ruling it
EVIL RESULTS OF CONQUEST. During the wars the Romans had lost many of
their simple ways of living. Some had grown rich in the business of
providing for the armies and navies, and they were eager for new wars
in order to make still bigger fortunes. Hannibal's marches up and down
Italy had driven thousands of farmers from their homes, and they had
wandered to Rome for safety and food. When the war was over many of
them did not go back to their homes. Those who did found that they
could no longer get fair prices for their crops because great
quantities of wheat were shipped to Rome from the conquered lands.
Wealthy men bought the little farms and joined them, making great
estates where slaves raised sheep and cattle or tended vineyards and
olive groves. There was not much work for free men in Rome, for slaves
were very cheap. One army of prisoners was sold at about eight cents
apiece. In this way the poor were made idle, while the rich sent
everywhere for new luxuries.
[Illustration: GLADIATORS After carvings on the tomb of
CRUEL SPORTS. To amuse the idle crowds, office-seekers and victorious
generals provided cruel sports. Savage animals were turned loose to
tear one another to pieces. What was worse, human prisoners were
compelled to fight, armed with swords or spears. These men were called
gladiators, and often were specially trained to fight with one another
or with wild beasts.
SOME THINGS THE ROMANS LEARNED. But the successes of the Romans
brought them other things which were good. They took the buildings of
the Greeks as models and built similar temples and porticoes in Rome,
especially about the old market place or Forum. Their own houses,
which in earlier times were nothing but cabins, they enlarged, and if
they were rich enough, built palaces, adorned with paintings and with
statues. Unfortunately many of these came from the plunder of Greek
cities, for the Romans were great robbers of other peoples. The poorer
Romans continued to live in wretched hovels.
THE THEATER. The Romans learned more about the theaters of the Greeks.
Their plays were either translated into Latin from Greek or retold in
a different manner from the original Greek. The Romans did not succeed
in writing any plays of their own which were as good as the plays of
[Illustration: RUINS OF THE ROMAN THEATER AT ORANGE, FRANCE]
THE NEW EDUCATION OF THE ROMANS. The Greeks also taught the Romans how
to write poems and histories. The first histories were written in
Greek, but later the Romans learned how to write in Latin prose and
poetry as good as much that had been written by the Greeks. Greek
became the second language of every educated Roman, and thus he could
enjoy the books of the Greeks as well as those written by Romans. The
education of the Roman boy now began with the poems of Homer, and the
young man's education was not thought to be finished until he had
traveled in Greece and the lands along the eastern Mediterranean.
1. How long did it take the Romans to conquer Italy? How long to
conquer the lands about the Mediterranean? In what "Times" did all
2. Why did the Carthaginians and the Romans fight? What did Hannibal
promise his father? What sort of a leader was Hannibal?
3. How did Hannibal reach Italy? How did he win the battle of the
4. Why was he unable to force the Romans to yield?
5. How long before the beginning of the Christian Era did this war
with Hannibal close? How long after the battle of Marathon, and
after the death of Alexander the Great?
6. What other lands did the Romans conquer? How did they rule these
7. Were they better for the wealth and power they gained? What
became of many of the Italian farmers? Where did the Romans get
8. What good things did they learn from the Greeks? What was the
1. On an outline map of the lands around the Mediterranean mark on
each land, Spain, Greece, northern Africa, Asia Minor, and Egypt,
the dates at which the Romans conquered each, finding these dates in
any brief Roman or Ancient History--Botsford, Myers, Morey,
THE ANCIENT WORLD EXTENDED TO THE SHORES OF THE ATLANTIC
NEW CONQUESTS OF THE ROMANS. The Romans had as yet conquered only
civilized peoples like themselves, with the exception of the tribes in
Spain and southern Gaul. Now the Roman armies were to push northward
over the plains and through the forests of Gaul, across the Rhine into
unknown Germany, and over the Channel into Britain, equally unknown.
They were to be explorers as well as conquerors. In this way they were
to carry their civilization to the Rhine and the Atlantic, and so
increase greatly the part of the earth where men lived and thought as
the Romans did and as the Greeks had before them. The ancient civilized
world was beginning to move from its older center, the Mediterranean,
toward the shore of the Atlantic.
ANCESTORS OF THE FRENCH AND THE GERMANS. The tribes living in Gaul
were not at that time called French, but Gallic. The Gauls were like the
Britons who lived across the Channel in Britain. The German ancestors of
the English had not yet crossed the North Sea to that land. Beyond the
Rhine lived the Germans, who had but little to do with the Romans and
the Greeks and were still barbarians. The Gauls living farthest away
from the Roman settlements were not much more civilized.
The principal difference between the Germans and the Gauls was that the
Gauls lived in villages and towns and cultivated the land or dug in
mines or traded along the rivers, while the Germans had no towns and
dwelt in clearings of the forest. Their wealth, like that of the early
Romans, was their cattle. The land they cultivated was divided between
them year after year, so that a German owned only his hut and the plot
of ground or garden about it. Some of the towns of the Gauls were placed
on high hills and were protected by strong walls.
THE TERRIBLE GERMANS. The Romans had at first been afraid of the
Gauls, because they had never forgotten how terribly these people had
once defeated them. But since that time they had fought the Gauls so
often that they were losing this fear. They now dreaded more to meet the
Germans, who seemed like giants because they were taller even than
[Illustration: GALLIC WARRIORS]
GALLIC AND GERMAN WARRIORS. The leaders of the Germans were sometimes
kings and sometimes nobles whom the Romans called _duces_, from which
comes our word duke. The Gallic chieftains were adorned with gold
necklaces, bracelets, and rings. When they went out to battle, they wore
helmets shaped like the head of some ravenous beast, and their bodies
were protected by coats of chain armor made of iron rings. Their
principal weapon was a long, heavy sword. Both German and Gallic nobles
were accompanied by bands of young men, their devoted followers, who
shared the joys of victory or died with them in case of defeat. It was a
disgrace to lose one's sword or to survive if the leader was killed.
HOW THE GERMANS LIVED. When the Germans were not fighting they were
idle, for all work was done by women and slaves. They were great
drinkers and gamblers, and often in their games a man would stake his
freedom upon the result. If he lost, he became the slave of the winner.
The Germans respected their wives, even if they compelled them to do the
hard work. The women sometimes went with the men to battle, and their
cries encouraged the warriors, or if the warriors wavered, the fierce
reproaches of the women drove them back to the fight.
RELIGION OF THE GERMANS. We remember the religion of the Germans
because four days of the week are named for their gods or the gods of
their neighbors across the Baltic. Their principal god was Wodan, or
Odin, god of the sun and the tempest. Wodan's day is Wednesday. Thursday
is named for Thor, the Northmen's god of thunder. The god of war, Tiw,
gave a name to Tuesday, and Frigu, the goddess of love, to Friday. The
German, like his northern neighbors, thought of heaven as the place
where brave warriors who had died in battle spent their days
JULIUS CAESAR. Julius Caesar was the great Roman general who
conquered the Gauls and led the first expeditions across the Rhine into
Germany and over the Channel into Britain. He was a wealthy noble who,
like other nobles, held one office after another until he became consul.
He was also a great political leader, and with two other men controlled
Rome. We should call them "bosses," but the Romans called them
[Illustration: JULIUS CAESAR After the bust in the Museum at
CAESAR IN GAUL. As soon as Caesar became governor of the province
of southern Gaul, he showed that he was a skilful general as well as a
successful politician. He interfered in the wars between the Gauls,
taking sides with the friends of the Romans. When a large army of
Germans entered Gaul, he defeated it and drove it back across the Rhine.
One war led to another until all the tribes from the country now called
Belgium to the Mediterranean coast professed to be friends of the Roman
people. His campaigns lasted from 58 B.C. for nine years. Two or three
times Caesar was very close to ruin, but by his courage and energy he
always succeeded in gaining the victory.
VERCINGETORIX, GALLIC HERO. The great hero of the Gauls in their
struggle with the Romans was Vercingetorix. He was a young noble who
lived in a mountain town of central Gaul. His father had been killed in
an attempt to make himself king of his native city. Vercingetorix
believed that if the Gauls did not unite against the Romans they would
soon see their lands become Roman provinces. As he knew his army was no
match for the Romans in open fight, he persuaded the Gauls to try to
starve the Romans out of the country. He planned to destroy all village
stores of grain, and to cut off the smaller bands of soldiers which
wandered from the main army in search of food.
CAESAR AND VERCINGETORIX. Vercingetorix found the work of
conquering Caesar in this way too difficult. He was finally driven to
take refuge in Alesia, on a hilltop in eastern Gaul. Here the Romans
prepared to starve him into surrender. They dug miles of deep trenches
about the fortress so that the imprisoned Gauls could not break through.
They dug other trenches to protect themselves from the attacks of a
great army of Gauls which came to rescue Vercingetorix. These trenches
were fifteen or twenty feet wide; they were strengthened by palisades
and ramparts, and filled with water where this was possible. Several
times the Gauls nearly succeeded in breaking through, but the quickness
and stubborn courage of Caesar always saved the day.
DEATH OF VERCINGETORIX. Vercingetorix now proved that he was a real
hero. He offered to give himself up to Caesar, if this would save the
town. But Caesar demanded the submission of all the chiefs. When they
had laid down their arms before the conqueror, Vercingetorix appeared on
a gaily decorated horse. He rode around the throne where Caesar sat,
dismounted in front, took off his armor, and bowed to the ground. His
fate was hard. He was sent to Rome a prisoner, was shown in the
triumphal procession of the victorious Caesar, and was then put to death
in a dungeon. On the site of Alesia stands a monument erected by the
French to the memory of the brave Gallic hero. The defeat of
Vercingetorix ended the resistance of the Gauls, and not many years
afterward their country was added to the long list of Roman provinces.
[Illustration: THE BRIDGE ON WHICH CAESAR'S ARMY CROSSED THE
CAESAR IN GERMANY. Caesar crossed the Rhine into Germany on a bridge
which his engineers built in ten days. He laid waste the fields of the
tribes near the river in order to make the name of Rome feared, and then
returned to Gaul and destroyed the bridge. Twice he sailed over to
Britain, the last time marching a few miles north of where London now
stands. His purpose was to keep the Britons from stirring up the Gauls
to attack him. Other generals many years later conquered Britain as far
as the hills of Scotland.
THE GERMAN HERO HERMANN. The Romans were not fortunate in their
later attempts to conquer a part of Germany. When Caesar's grandnephew
Augustus was master of Rome, he sent an army under Varus into the
forests far from the Rhine. Hermann, a leader of the Germans, gathered
the tribes together and utterly destroyed the army of Varus. Whenever
Augustus thought of this dreadful disaster, he would cry out, "O Varus,
give me back my legions!" The Rhine and the Danube became the northern
boundaries of the Roman conquests.
GAULS AND BRITONS BECOME ROMAN. Although the Gauls had fought
stubbornly against Caesar they soon became as Roman as the Italians
themselves. They ceased to speak their own language and began to use
Latin. They mastered Latin so thoroughly that their schools were
sometimes regarded as better than the schools in Italy, and Roman youths
were sent to Gaul to learn how best to speak their own language. The
Britons also became very good Romans. Even the Germans frequently
crossed the Rhine and enlisted in the Roman armies. When they returned
to their own country they carried Roman ideas and customs with them.
THE INTEREST OF AMERICANS IN ROMAN SUCCESSES. For Americans the
influence the Romans exerted in Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Britain is
more important than their work in the eastern Mediterranean, because
from those countries came the early settlers of America. The
civilization which the Romans taught the peoples of western Europe was
to become a valuable part of the civilization of our forefathers.
[Illustration: THE ROMAN EMPIRE AT ITS GREATEST EXTENT IN 395
SIZE OF THE ROMAN WORLD. We may realize how large the world of the
Romans was by observing on a modern map that within its limits lay
modern England, France, Spain, Portugal, the southern part of
Austria-Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, the Turkish Empire both in
Europe and Asia, Egypt, Tripoli, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco. For a time
they also ruled north of the Danube, and the Rumanians boast that they
are descended from Roman colonists. The peoples in southern Russia were
influenced by the Greeks and by the Romans, although the Romans did not
try to bring them under their rule.
No modern empire has included so many important countries. If we compare
this vast territory with, the scattered colonies of the Greeks, we shall
understand how useful it was that the Romans adopted much of the Greek
civilization, for they could carry it to places that the Greeks
[Illustration: RUINS OF THE ANCIENT GAULS AT CARNAC,
IN BRITTANY, FRANCE]
1. After the Romans had conquered the lands about the Mediterranean,
into what other countries did they march?
2. Who once lived where the French now live? Tell how the Gauls
3. How did the manner of living of the Germans differ from that of
the Gauls? Were the Britons similar to the Germans or to the Gauls?
4. What names do we get from the names of the German gods?
5. Who was Julius Caesar? Why did he go among the Gauls? What was
the result of his wars with the Gauls? Tell the story of
6. After the conquest of the Gauls, into what countries did Caesar
[Illustration: A ROMAN COIN WITH THE HEAD OF JULIUS CAESAR]
7. What was the fate of the Roman army in Germany in the time of
8. In which of these countries did the peoples become much like the
9. Why have Americans a special interest in the Roman conquest of
Gaul and Britain?
1. Caesar and Alexander were two of the greatest generals who ever
lived. How many years after Alexander died did Caesar begin his wars
in Gaul? What difference was there between what these two generals
did? Whose work is the more important for us?
2. Plan a large map of the Graeco-Roman world, pasting on each
country a picture of some interesting Greek or Roman ruin. This will
take a long time, but many pictures may be found in advertising
folders of steamship lines and tourist agencies.
(Chapters IV, V, VI, and VII)
_How the Graeco-Roman world was built up_:
1. The Greeks drive back the Persians.
2. The Greeks settle in many places on the shores of the
Mediterranean and Black Seas.
3. Alexander conquers the countries about the eastern Mediterranean.
4. The Romans conquer the Greeks in Italy, but learn their ways of
5. The Romans conquer the Carthaginians and seize their colonies.
6. The Romans conquer all the lands around the Mediterranean.
7. The Romans conquer Gaul and Britain.
_Important dates in this work of building a Graeco-Roman world_:
Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C. Work of Alexander ended, 323 B.C.
Romans become masters of Italy, 275 B.C. Romans conquer Hannibal,
202 B.C. Caesar's conquest of Gaul complete, 49 B.C.
[Illustration: ROMAN FARMER'S CALENDAR]
THE CIVILIZATION OF THE ROMAN WORLD
STRIFE AT ROME. While the Romans were conquering the ancient world
they had begun to quarrel among themselves. Certain men resolved that
Rome should not be managed any longer by the noble senators for their
own benefit or for the benefit of rich contractors and merchants. They
wished to have the idle crowds of men who packed the shows and circuses
settled as free farmers on the unused lands of Italy.
Among these new leaders were two brothers, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus,
sons of one of Rome's noblest families. The other nobles looked upon
them with hatred and killed them, first Tiberius and afterward Caius.
These murders did not end the trouble. The leaders on both sides armed
their followers, and bloody battles were fought in the streets. Generals
led their armies to Rome, although, according to the laws, to bring an
army into Italy south of the Rubicon River was to make war on the
republic and be guilty of treason. Once in the city these generals put
to death hundreds of their enemies.
CAESAR RULES ROME. The strife in the city had ceased for a time
when Pompey, a famous general, who had once shared power with Caesar as
a "triumvir," joined the senators in planning his ruin. Caesar led his
army into Italy to the borders of the Rubicon. Exclaiming, "The die is
cast,'" he crossed the sacred boundary and marched straight to Rome.
Pompey and his party fled, and civil war divided the Roman world into
those who followed Caesar and those who followed Pompey, Caesar was
everywhere victorious, in Italy, Africa, Spain, and the East. He brought
back order into the government of the city and of the provinces, but in
the year 44 B.C. he was murdered in the senate-house by several
senators, one of whom, Marcus Brutus, had been his friend.
ORIGIN OF THE TITLE "EMPEROR." Caesar had not been called
"emperor," though the chief power had been his. One of his titles was
"imperator," or commander of the army, a word from which our word
"emperor" comes. He was really the first emperor of Rome. In later times
the very word Caesar became an imperial title, not only in the Roman
Empire, but also in modern Germany, for "Kaiser" is another form of the
BEGINNINGS OF THE EMPIRE. Caesar's successor was his grandnephew
Octavius, usually called Augustus, which was one of his titles. Augustus
carried out many of Caesar's plans for improving the government in Rome
and in the provinces. The people in the provinces were no longer robbed
by Roman officers. Many of them became Roman citizens. After a time all
children born within the empire were considered Romans, just as if they
had been born in Rome.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The Roman Empire carried on the work which the
republic had begun. It did some things better than the republic had done
them. Within its frontiers there was peace for two or three hundred
years. Many people had an opportunity to share in all the best that the
Greeks and Romans had learned. Unfortunately the peoples imitated the
bad as well as the good.
ROMAN ROADS. As builders the Romans taught much to those who lived
after them. Their great roads leading out from Rome have never been
excelled. In Gaul these roads served, centuries later, to mark out the
present French system of highroads and showed many a route to the
builders of railroads. They were made so solid that parts of them still
remain after two thousand years.
[Illustration: Augustus Caesar After the statue in the Vatican]
HOW THESE ROADS WERE BUILT. In planning their roads the Romans did
not hesitate before obstacles like hills or deep valleys or marshy
lands. They often pierced the hills with tunnels and bridged the valleys
or swamps. In building a road they dug a trench about fifteen feet wide
and pounded the earth at the bottom until it was hard. Upon this bottom
was placed a layer of rough stones, over which were put nine inches of
broken stone mixed with lime to form a sort of concrete. This was
covered by a layer six inches deep of broken bricks or broken tiles,
which when pounded down offered a hard, smooth surface. On the top were
laid large paving stones carefully fitted so that there need be no jar
when a wagon rolled over the road.
Such roads were necessary for the traders who passed to and fro
throughout the empire, but especially for troops or government
messengers sent with all speed to regions where there was danger of
revolt or where the frontiers were threatened by the barbarians.
[Illustration: CROSS-SECTION OF A ROMAN ROAD]
AQUEDUCTS. Next to their roads the most remarkable Roman structures
were the aqueducts which brought water to the city from rivers or
springs, some of them many miles away. Had they known, as we do, how to
make heavy iron pipes, their aqueducts would have been laid underground,
except where they crossed deep valleys. The lead pipes which they used
were not strong enough to endure the force of a great quantity of water,
and so when the aqueducts reached the edge of the plain which stretches
from the eastern hills to the walls of Rome, the streams of flowing
water were carried in stone channels resting upon arches which sometimes
reached the height of over ninety feet.
THE CLAUDIAN AQUEDUCT. The Claudian aqueduct, which is the most
magnificent ever built, is carried on such arches for about seven miles
and a half. Although broken in many places, and though the water has not
flowed through its lofty channels for sixteen hundred years, it is one
of the grandest sights in the neighborhood of Rome. If we add together
the lengths of the aqueducts, underground or carried on arches, which
provided Rome with her water supply, the total is over three hundred
miles. They could furnish Rome with a hundred million gallons of water
[Illustration: RUINS OF THE CLAUDIAN AQUEDUCT Completed by the
Roman Emperor Claudian in 52 A.D. The structure was nearly a hundred
PUBLIC BATHS. The Romans used great quantities of water for their
public baths, which were large buildings with rooms especially made for
bathing in hot or cold water and for plunges. They were also, like the
Greek gymnasiums, places for exercise, conversation, and reading. Many
were built as monuments by wealthy men and by emperors. A very small fee
was charged for entrance, and the money was used to pay for repairs and
the wages of those who managed the baths.
[Illustration: RUINS OF THE COLOSSEUM]
TWO FAMOUS BUILDINGS. Many of the Roman temples, porticoes, and
theaters were copied from Greek buildings, but the Romans used the arch
more than did the Greeks, and in this the builders of later times
imitated them. Among their greatest buildings were the amphitheaters,
from the benches of which crowds watched gladiators fighting one another
or struggling with wild beasts. The largest of these amphitheaters was
the Colosseum, the ruins of which still exist. Its outer walls were one
hundred and sixty feet high. In one direction it measured six hundred
and seventeen feet and in another five hundred and twelve. There were
seats enough for forty-five thousand persons. The lowest seats were
raised fifteen feet above the arena or central space where men or wild
beasts fought. Through an arrangement of underground pipes the arena
could be flooded so that the spectators might enjoy the excitement of a
real naval battle.
Another great building was the Circus Maximus, built to hold the crowds
that watched the chariot-races, and at one time having seats for two
hundred thousand persons. In their amusements the Romans became more and
more vulgar, excitable, and cruel. Some equally splendid buildings were
used for better things.
[Illustration: The Pantheon]
THE PANTHEON. One of these was the Pantheon, a temple which was
afterward a Christian church. It still stands, and is now used as the
burial-place of the Italian kings. The most remarkable part of it is the
dome, which has a width of a little over one hundred and forty-two feet.
No other dome in the world is so wide. The Romans were very successful
in covering large spaces with arched or vaulted ceilings. All later
builders of domes and arches are their pupils.
[Illustration: THE ARCH OF TITUS]
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