Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man. — John Cardinal Newman

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




The Death of Virginia

The next day, at the appointed hour, the client appeared before Appius Claudius, and claimed Virginia as his property, saying that her mother had once been his slave. Now this was not true, and Virginia's uncle protested against such a judgment; but Appius declared at once that the girl must go with the client. He said this because he had arranged that the man should give Virginia to him; and he fancied that no one would guess his motive or dare to resist.

The client laid hands upon the unwilling Virginia, and was about to drag her away by force, when her unfortunate father appeared. Breathless with the haste he had made to reach Rome in time to save his child, he began to plead with Appius Claudius to set her free. He soon saw, however, that all his prayers were vain, and that in spite of all he could say or do his daughter would be taken away from him, and given over to the mercy of those wicked men.

In his despair, he now asked that he might, at least, be allowed to take leave of Virginia, and he sadly led her to one side. He knew that none of the spectators would have the courage to help him save her, and that death was far better than the life which awaited her in the house of Appius Claudius. All at once, he caught up a knife from a neighboring butcher's shop, and stabbed her to the heart, saying:

"Dear little daughter, only thus can I save you."

Then, drawing the bloody dagger from her breast, he rushed through the guards, who did not dare to stop him, and left Rome, vowing that he would be avenged. When he reached the army, and told his companions about the base attempt of Appius Claudius, they all swore to help him, and marched towards Rome.

The decemvirs had not expected a revolt, and had made no preparations to defend the city. The army therefore marched in unhindered, and Appius was flung into prison. There he was found soon after, strangled to death; but no one ever took the trouble to inquire how this accident had happened.

The decemvirs were now entirely set aside, and the government was restored as it had been before; but the brazen tablets remained, and the laws which the tyrants had chosen continued to be enforced, because they were, in general, good and just for all the people.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire